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On the big screen: Manson Family Vacation a hit at SXSW, Brooklyn and LA Film Fests


Jay Duplass is a cool guy. His picture is probably right next to the word "hipster" in the dictionary—because he's everything that hipsters these days wish they could be: low key, humble and on the bleeding edge of what's white hot in our culture. But he's also so much more; he's a uniquely talented actor, writer and producer and on top of all THAT stuff, he's an extremely nice guy. Then there's Linas Phillips, an actor I can honestly picture as a possible heir to the sadly vacated throne of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Then there's indie director/writer and festival darling J. Davis, whose directing style manages to be supportive, inspiring and hands off all at the same time. How did I get lucky enough to do a film with these guys, and to play a juicy character like Janice?

I auditioned. Go figure. It was one of those immediate fits. (Thank you, casting director Mary Hidalgo.) I could tell right away that they were a good team with a fine script, and they could tell right away that I understood the material. Our day of shooting was a dreamlike combo of relaxed creativity and emotional candor—an extended improvisational romp resulting in some truly wonderful moments. Here's how Variety put it: "Before you can say “Helter Skelter,” the two (Jay and Linas) are sneaking into the Los Feliz home once inhabited by Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, passing themselves off as relatives of the murdered couple—a tense, amusing scene that nicely conveys the affection as well as the exasperation that Nick feels for his eccentric older bro."

It was certainly the most fun on a set I've had in a long time (maybe since "Friends" with Jeff Golblum). Which is why I'm so glad the film is a bone fide hit around the country at festivals, and has been picked up by Netflix. Bravo to the whole team, including fantastic producers Steve Bannatyne, Eric Blyler, Mark Duplass (Jay's real bro), Ali Sandler and the host of other funders and hands-on producers who made a very special film like this possible. Great music by Heather McIntosh, great camera work by Sean McElwee and great editing by Nick Sherman.


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