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Mark Duplass does not think that Netflix can get Ray Romano's attention. So he does it himself

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"Excuse me?" Mark Duplass asked, trying to attract the attention of a tourist who passed him by on Hollywood Boulevard. "Have you ever seen & # 39; Everyone loves Raymond? & # 39; Seen"

The passer-by nodded, stared at the actor's face, and tried to place him. Duplass took his chance and started his pitch: he was outside the Dolby Theater on Friday, November 15 at 9:00 am to announce the performance of his co-star Ray Romano in their Netflix film, "Paddleton."

"Wait, the one with the bear?" The stranger replied.

"No," Paddington "is the one with the bear," Duplass smiled softly, as if he had received the question earlier.

"Paddleton" – who also produced and co-wrote the 42-year-old – tells the story of two neighbors who form a deep bond after one of them (the character of Duplass) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and earned largely positive reviews for it went on Netflix a month later.

In most cases, that is a huge success for an independent film that cost less than $ 1 million to make. And Duplass understands that. But there is also a part of him who feels that the streaming outlet & # 39; Paddleton & # 39; could have promoted more, making Romano eligible for price considerations this season.

That is why he decided last week to buy a dozen pieces of poster board, get a Sharpie, and create plates to promote Romano's turn in "Paddleton." His plan was to make his self-made ads – "EVERYONE STILL LOVES RAYMOND" "4 UR CONSIDE-RAY-SHUN!" VOTE 4 RAY! – to Hollywood & Highland, Sunset Boulevard and the Film Independent offices he believed that they deliberated on nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards (they are announced on Thursday.)

Mark Duplass stands with characters on Hollywood Boulevard.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Foot traffic was slower than expected at his first stop, where he found himself competing with the Hulk and Spider-Man for the sake of tourists. He was dressed entirely in black – a T-shirt that revealed his belly when he held up his plate, sweatpants and Nikes – except for a collection of faded anklets that his two daughters had made for him. He had called Romano earlier in the week to share his campaign plan and said he got the feeling that the 61-year-old was flattered but also ashamed of him – as if the whole thing was a little & desperate and weird & # 39; used to be. "

"And he is not wrong. There is a good little Catholic boy in me who says: & # 39; Mark, you are an independent filmmaker who should be broke – or could be. You have a great life. Netflix brings you movies to millions of viewers. Boo-hoo, it's not much more millions and there are no prizes. Shut up. Go home and write a new movie & # 39; & # 39 ;, said Duplass, who is in fact a production agreement with four photos closed with Netflix together with his brother, Jay, in 2018.

“But I think this is what it is: there is a part of my heart that is so connected to the DNA of what this kind of film is. There's a piece of mine that says, "I don't think I can beat this, and if this isn't enough, I don't know what it is."

The Duplass brothers, who emerged in the filmmaker community of Austin, Texas, are often recognized for helping the "Mumblecore" movement – making quiet, low-budget films about intimate relationships with much improvised dialogue. Their first hit, "The Puffy Chair", was purchased in 2005 by the current Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, when the production and distribution branch of the company was called Red Envelope.

In the early days of their partnership, Mark did most of the acting and Jay was behind the camera, although Jay is now also appearing – especially in the Amazon series & # 39; Transparent & # 39 ;. Mark & ​​# 39; s career has also grown: this fall alone he has been co-with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in Apple & # 39; s & # 39; The Morning Show & # 39; and playing the husband on the screen for Charlize Theron's Megize Kelly in the Fox News movie & # 39; Bombshell & # 39 ;.

But Duplass feels like the younger brother of projects like this. With & # 39; Paddleton & # 39; is he the father.

Ray Romano and Mark Duplass in "Paddleton" from Netflix.

(Patrick Wymore / Netflix)

"When I ask Ray Romano to come and make a movie like this and sleep in a not really nice hotel and not have a trailer and sit in a tent when the rain rains out with me and improvises the whole script – how out of his comfort zone, he was so scared to improvise drama – I want him to be seen and rewarded for it, & he explained. “I want the world to appreciate that. So maybe I shake my fists a little to the world and hope that considering prices can bring more viewers to the public. & # 39;

After about an hour before the Dolby, where he could have had a few people in conversation and made some selfies, Duplass decided to walk to a store where life-size fake golden Oscar statues stood in front.

"Are you a famous man?" Asked the store's security man while he noticed Duplass's entourage, including his assistant and publicist, a photographer, and this reporter.

“If you have to ask the question, the answer is & # 39; no & # 39 ;, Duplass replied.

"I saw your stuff," the guard insisted, calling the FX show "The League."

Duplass made a quick shot with the Oscars before the guard warned that his boss would get angry if the actor spent too much time studying the photo room. He said he understood, collected his plates and led the way to his Volvo. His assistant sat behind the wheel and Duplass sat in the back seat in the midst of his children's trash: a wandering slipper, a faux cat tail left over from a Halloween costume and a beaded bracelet.

Mark Duplass poses with Oscar images on Hollywood Boulevard.

Mark Duplass poses with Oscar images on Hollywood Boulevard.

(Los Angeles Times)

As the car drove toward Sunset, Duplass remembered how he had attended a Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. party the night before on behalf of "The Morning Show". During the event – also attended by Robert Pattinson, Emilia Clarke and Greta Gerwig – he said he had a moment to look around and feel a shill.

"I thought," This is pretty dirty. Hot Priest is not here, & # 39; & # 39; he said, referring to actor Andrew Scott, whose character on & # 39; Fleabag & # 39; became a cultural phenomenon. "Guess what? Hot Priest is definitely nominated. And do you know why? Because he was incredible and the work speaks for itself. "So shut up, Mark, and go home." That won't be lost, because I'm begging for attention here for Ray – let the work speak for itself. "

Duplass asked his assistant to stop at a liquor store right next to two Netflix billboards at Sunset, one for "Dolemite Is My Name" and the other for "The Irishman", in which Romano plays a supporting role. Although there was no big ad for "Paddleton," Netflix did quite a bit of promotion for the film: Screeners were sent to the acting branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Screen Actors Guild, while official screenings were held for the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., The National Board of Review and the Writers Guild of America, East.

"I think the truth is that I'm still figuring out how I feel about things like this," Duplass continued. "It would be very cool and interesting to discuss a world where prize campaigns look like this, because there is a limit to the money you can spend on it. Where you don't have to spend $ 10 million or $ 15 million to Is there a way to level the playing field a little more with better rules? "
Duplass, who was admitted to the academy in 2014, has previously been lobbying on behalf of independent films. In 2015, he and his brother Magnolia persuaded to set up an Oscar campaign for transgender actress Mya Taylor in "Tangerine". A few years later wrote an open letter (which actually went against the rules of the academy), urged academics to vote for & # 39; Moonlight & # 39; from Barry Jenkins.

"And I was really excited when" Moonlight "won. I was like: "This is going to change everything." And then (expletive) "Green Book" won. I was reminded of "amazing", Duplass recalled, calling the best photo winners of the past three years. “For me, the & # 39; Green Book & # 39; victory was symbolic of a soft, easy choice of some of the older members of the academy who felt that it was a very edgy film about racing and there was a big, expensive campaign that helped behind it. It just felt like there were more interesting movies, and I'd like to win more movies such as "Moonlight." "

It was time to go to Duplass & # 39; last and most ambitious stop of the day: Film Independent, located in an inconspicuous office building on Wilshire Boulevard. Within minutes of his arrival, an employee was sent down to see if the actor was boycotting outside the non-profit organization.

Mark Duplass goes to the Film Independent offices.

Mark Duplass goes to the Film Independent offices.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

"Who would throw Film Independent away?" Duplass asked seriously. "No, I'm secretly trying to find someone on the jury."

The employee looked relieved and said she would see if she could find someone to let him go upstairs. Soon two more staff members came to lead him into the elevator. Upstairs in the Film Independent lobby, the president of the group, Josh Welsh, was sent to greet him.

"What's wrong? You're crazy! This is insane! & # 39; Said Welsh.

"I run an independent prize campaign for Ray Romano because Netflix, understandably, spends all their money on" The Irishman "and I want him to get this love," Duplass explained.

“Did you sign this? Because this is really good, "Welsh said, pointing to the poster of Duplass, where Romano looked more like Tig Notaro than the man of" Everybody Loves Raymond. "

"I did," Duplass said, laughing. "And I don't know if you have rules or have ever dealt with something like this before. And I don't want to take you to the scene."

"This might be a first," Welsh replied. “I think we need a full staff meeting. Maybe we should take the plate back and burn it. & # 39;

Mark Duplass with film-independent president Josh Welsh in the offices of the organization.

Mark Duplass with film-independent president Josh Welsh in the offices of the organization.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The two men discussed campaigning for prizes and Welsh urged Duplass to encourage signing up at Film Independent, as members will eventually vote for the winners of the Indie Spirits. Duplass thanked Welsh for crashing their offices and walked to the elevator with a grin on his face.

"That was much more than I could have hoped," he said. "He can't do anything because he doesn't consult. But he looked me in the eye and told me that the appointment committee will see that sign. And that was all I needed.

"I think there is a possibility that this really uncomfortable, weird thing that we've been looking through today might bring some attention to Ray for a prize, or someone else might be considering new and interesting ways to campaign if it moves the needle. It would be great if some companies would say, "Jesus, Mark Duplass just did this with four hours of his time and no money, and it worked."

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