Known for their contributions shepherding a new generation of behind-the-scenes talent into the mainstream, it seems only appropriate that Mark and Jay Duplass received their first Emmy nominations for doing just that with Chapman and Maclain Way’s acclaimed Netflix docuseries Wild Wild Country, depicting the rise of a cult leader in the Oregon desert.
The docuseries scored five nominations today, helping Netflix score the most noms of any platform, breaking HBO’s longtime hold on that distinction.
The Duplass brothers, boasting overall deals with Netflix and HBO and with hands in “a lot of different spheres,” have found a key element of their artistic mission by expanding their collaborations beyond those films and television series they write and direct together.
“We’re actually doing a lot less directing and opening up the collaboration to supporting a lot of newer or younger filmmakers who are super passionate, and quite frankly, maybe willing to work a lot longer and harder than we are, and are just dying for that opportunity,” Mark Duplass told Deadline this morning after the nominations were announced.
In addition to Wild Wild Country, Duplass noted that the brothers’ HBO anthology series Room 104, has also been an ideal “creative laboratory.” Dropping hints of what’s to come next season, he touched on the collaborations that have sprung up with the series—most recently with Oscar-winning Moonlight star Mahershala Ali.
“He and I have been friends for a while and I was like, ‘Hey, what do you want to do?’ And he’s like, ‘Can you write me something like this?’ And I wrote it and we did it together,” Duplass said. “It’s opening up the collaboration so we can make more things, and at the same time, support these younger filmmakers.”
In Wild Wild Country creators Chapman and Maclain Way—who “shouldered the creative duties of the show”—the Duplass brothers found twentysomething brothers who reminded themselves of themselves at an earlier stage of their career.
“I feel very proud of Chap and Mac. I’m not kidding when I say they worked six to seven days a week straight for like two years—and they didn’t smell that great,” Duplass joked. “They really went for it.”
Big fans of the documentary form — the Duplasses have seen successes in that arena this year with both Wild Wild Country and Netflix’s Evil Genius — the pair have every intention of remaining active in the genre, though they’re being selective in the projects they take on.
“It’s such a hard form to get right. You need really great, competent filmmakers and great material, so I think that rather than say, ‘Hey, we can make a whole bunch of money making docuseries now!”, and turn it into a machine, we’re going to be a little more picky and make sure we get it right,” he said. “So hopefully when you see something from us, you can trust that it’s been curated, and we’ll have something to offer.”
Watching the way Wild Wild Country has resonated, Duplass is particularly proud that the series transcended the spectacle of “sex cults and mass poisonings” that drew people to the project in the first place.
“I’m really proud that they stayed to the end because of some of the larger sociopolitical storylines. In particular, I loved how much people at once could identify with a niche religious movement that was willing to poison people in order to protect their belief systems and way of life, and at the same time, could identify with small-town, white xenophobia and fear of the other,” the EP said. “It’s like, nobody in this country is identifying with anyone right now who doesn’t believe exactly as they do. So that was a nice little pride point for this series.”
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