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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Language Lessons

by actor/co-writer/executive producer Mark Duplass

When I came up with the initial idea for Language Lessons, I immediately thought of Natalie Morales. We had worked together previously on my show “Room 104.” We had hung out a bit socially. I knew how talented and hard-working she was. She was bilingual. And she was a workaholic, like me, dying to make something creative during the pandemic. A perfect fit. But as I look back on the film now I don’t think those are the main reasons I called her up. I think I was looking to fall in love.

Now, to be clear, I am a happily married man. So this love I was looking for has nothing to do with traditional romantic love. It was a platonic love I was looking for. And somehow I had this sense that Natalie and I were in the perfect place in our relationship to come together during this insane time (it was May of 2020, just a few months into the first lockdown) and find each other in a way that would, hopefully, be both professionally and personally rewarding. But I didn’t have much to pitch when I called her. Just the basic idea of a character like the one I play in the film taking online Spanish classes and developing a close bond with his teacher.

We broke the story together in less than a week and a few weeks later we were shooting. We shot for only 4 days, with an entirely new filming system we made up along the way since we were in full Covid lockdown. It was exhausting and invigorating all at once. I felt like a kid picking up a camera for the first time, making it up as we went along. It was unique in so many ways. But as I watch the film now, I think what is most special to me is that it captures the moment in time when not only are these characters bonding, but Natalie and I are finding each other as friends and creative partners. There is a true platonic falling in love happening both on and off screen. And I hope you can feel it when you watch the film. It’s a special thing I’m constantly chasing in my films, and I am rarely able to capture it.

Posted August 26, 2021

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