September 18, 2021


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Mark Duplus speaks of ‘language lessons’ and Platonic love stories

7 min read

Mark Duplessis has fallen in love with many people.

He is in love with his wife, yes, but he wants the world to know that you can fall in love with your friends too. “Language Lessons” is a masterpiece by him and Natalie Morales.

As co-writers and co-actors in Morales ’management, they developed their characters individually, then came together again to see how the two would clash. Morales draws a woman named Carino, named for the Spanish word “affection”, who has faith problems but still wants love. Duplus created Adam, a shy but loving man who is suddenly desperate for any confusion when dealing with a tragedy. They meet online, as Carino Adam’s Spanish teacher, and push each other around borders because they see themselves as friends.

Duplus and Morales are both executive producers, Duplus lengthening the list of projects produced last year, such as “Still” and “7 Days”, both of which are clearly epidemic-set. But no one ever says the horrible P-word in “language lessons,” so it’s believable that it only puts the distance between Oakland and Costa Rica on the zoom of Adam and Carino. As Duplessis put it, “Hopefully, people will draw in parallel with the epidemic kind of world whenever they want. And if they don’t want to, and they’re tired of that shit, we won’t put it in their mouths.”

Dupless said Diversity For Morales about the platonic fall, the guilt of the survivor and the beauty of a happy ending.

How has this foundation been assembled?

[Natalie and I] Both admitted that there was a very platonic and professional crash. We said, “We should work together. We should be friends. ”Then a few years ago, I knew he wanted to come into management, so I hired him to direct the first episode of TV on my show“ Room 104 ”. He just hit it.

I really wanted to share the screen with him. The epidemic cut to two months. I am in quarantine with my wife and my two children. We all like each other, we exercise and hold our endorphins, puzzle and watch 90s movies. I was taking online Spanish lessons with this institute in Guatemala. We weren’t really short-spoken people. We’re going deep – real fast. I thought it was interesting that this kind of video communication, which we understand the limitations of intimacy, actually simplifies it in this case, really helps us get closer. I thought, “Oh, wow, a movie with a Spanish teacher and his student, and a complicated relationship can be made, and it’s a two-way street, and it’s small, and it’s cheap to make” – my brain just started to move.

I called Natalie very early, I had made up a lot of ideas before. I’m trying to do this new thing: collaborate with people who are very different from me and bring them in as soon as possible so that every project I create doesn’t look like my old projects. It feels different. So we made it together.

How did you get into co-writing?

We wanted this story to be something that really felt good, that was tough, but basically was – I dare say it – healthy, and reminds you that human connection is possible. Because at the moment everyone is dealing with a storm.

What was in our minds, can you tell a love story where there are zero romantic elements? Will-they-don’t-eliminate all their possibilities and Natalie and I have experienced our own platonic relationship. Which means they’re as complex as navigating our family and romantics. Sometimes even more so, because there is less of a defined path for platonic relationships. When you’re dating, you know what’s going on. It’s like, “We’ll go on a few dates. Now we are comfortable – here comes the kiss. Now we are comfortable – here comes the next step. Are we going to be monotonous? There are milestones. With friends, you can quickly find yourself in a place where you’ve shared extra or come too quickly and scare someone.

Since the idea of ​​a platonic love story came from your own life, do your characters resemble you?

Adam is one [formerly] Close gay man who couldn’t accept himself. This prevents him from being free and being able to express himself year after year. I’m not really like that. I am much more outspoken and do whatever you want. That said, Adam is very strong with people and comes with a lot of love and a lot of care. She wants to take care [Cariño]. I must have it. I have tons of guilt, surviving as a [former] Struggling artist. You put any struggling artist near me, and I’m on top of them, trying to save them and make sure they don’t hurt as much as they hurt my teenage and 20s.

And it can sometimes go well, or some people may feel off by it. I was able to experiment with that element of my own through Adam. I don’t want to talk too much for Natalie, but she says she can sometimes be a little cautious and unfaithful to people. We thought these would be the perfect thing together. This person is coming really strong, and [the other person is] It seems, “What about this white savior?”

The weaknesses of the characters are manifested in different ways. For example, you can see that Adam is seeking approval for every word he reads. How good is your own Spanish? What did it feel like to act in Spanish?

My Spanish isn’t as good as Adam’s, so I had to work there to get it. But I studied it in high school, in college, I held it. I am semi-fluent. I would have felt really nervous and insecure if Adam was supposed to be fluent.

But we liked the idea that Adam would stumble around. It was very interesting for me to act in my non-primary language. Sometimes, it was great to struggle to find the right words – literally to struggle to find it, because we are improving – and to use it as a metaphor. And then there are times where I literally can’t find the word fucking! I want to find out about it in my head. But it was a challenge for which I was fully prepared. I have come at a time in my career where I have no fear of looking stupid. I’m ready to go.

Another interesting element is when you flip through the language. For example, when Adam tries to express embarrassment and says, “Estoy Embarajado,” which actually means “I’m pregnant,” he says in English, “Why are you laughing at me?” Talk to me in those moments.

When you’re making a movie like “Language Lessons,” you need to be aware of the limits. We only had one cinematic shot each, and you look at it. Right now [on this Zoom screen]. Similarly, when it comes to editorials, there is only so much we can do: either big pictures or small pictures. When they slip into Spanish or English, it was another dramatic tool we could use to create variations and descriptive deviations. Surprise the audience, hold their toes. And express insecurity or confidence. We have tried to use it for different effects at different times. It was fun to make a movie where you only had six of your tricks, where your normal movie got you about 150. It was a practice to work with an extreme. And I thank you for the language, because we spent some time, when he had to answer in English. [or] Spanish?

In front of the movie, whenever someone is talking, that person is on the big screen. It trains your eyes to just get there. And then [editor Aleshka Ferrero] Growing inside the small picture-in-picture begins to throw more dramatic moments, which your eyes are not accustomed to seeing. It throws you off and pushes your brain. Because of some of our preliminary test screenings, people really liked it [the movie], But they were kind of zoning, like we zoom in. We had to find new ways to surprise people. Wake them up.

How do you feel about making Covid movies now that we were less quarantined than a year ago?

It was perfect for us at the time. I loved doing those movies. At the moment, they had the right movie to make. I have this theory – it’s a bit of a bullshit theory, but I like it – you can spend five years making your perfect movie, perfecting that script. And it’s a great way to make a movie and I’ve seen incredible movies being made that way. Or, you can do the “Language Lessons” model: take your idea, take it as close as possible to the preparation, shoot it whenever you’re on the honeymoon episode. Even though you are still in love with it. You’re going to get rough edges, because you’re unprepared. But will those rough edges be overridden by the pump? I’m-literally-making-this-movie-when-I’m-on-a-second-date-with-this-movie? That rising heat of the movie? That’s what “still”, “7 days” and “language lessons” represent me in the industry. I Love Making things like this. I think you will see a lot from me. I like the honesty with which they are made.

Do you always know how to finish a “language lesson”?

We did. In fact, the ending is the first scene we’ve shot, due to some supply. All we knew was that we wanted to see more [platonic relationships] On the screen, and we wanted to explore the depth of them that we see them. Natalie and I are deeply aroused in on-screen and off-screen platonic love. If someone leaves and they think, “Hey, there’s an instructive thing about how you should treat people,” that would be great. Extrapolate away.

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