Mel Eslyn has served as president of Duplass Brothers Productions since 2017. She’s had an understanding with Mark Duplass that, when she made her directorial feature debut, it had to be “the one.”

Now, her time has come, with Eslyn serving as director, co-writer and producer on the new sci-fi black comedy film, “Biosphere,” which at first glance has all the elements of a comedic hangout movie — with a dystopian touch of the end of the world.

Written, produced and starring Mark Duplass alongside his sole co-star Sterling K. Brown, “Biosphere” follows the final two remaining individuals in a claustrophobic man-made dome. Once the only female fish in a pond dies, the two men are left grappling with the notion that they will no longer have food to sustain themselves.

Eslyn recalls the film’s conception: “The first thing Mark pitched me was that the last two men on earth have this running joke about Mario and Luigi.” Consequently, that exact joke is how the film begins, with the two men debating the public versus private personas of Mario and Luigi.

However, Eslyn notes, “Biosphere’s” running joke is based on her real dynamic with Duplass and their own private and public personas. She also explained throughout their “Biosphere” collaboration Mark would have “half of an idea” and then she would be the one to “really expand upon it.”


Expanding Duplass’ initial ideas also meant Eslyn would dive deeper into scientific research, clarifying the mechanics of Ray and Billy’s safe haven. “I used those bits just enough to make the dome feel realistic. Ultimately, all the different things that happen that are science-related feel just close enough to reality, and then really pushed it into other spaces, that are very unrealistic.”

With her considerable amount of research, she applied her newfound knowledge and childhood experiences at the Milwaukee Mitchell Park Domes to create Ray and Billy’s enclosed shelter: “I drew up a crude kind of layout of what I thought the dome would look like, which also I used as a guide when writing and figuring out how to navigate the spaces.”

1689350643 477 Biosphere Director Mel Eslyn Discusses Filming on One Set With

Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Fi

As Eskyn and production designer Megan Fenton worked together to create the enclosure, the pair hit the ground running. Working for two weeks on one sound stage, Eslyn was tasked with directing the only two leads, surrounded on any given day by 30 to 50 crew members, as well as her Duplass staff, making the production a “family event, with extra people cheering us on.”

As Brown said at the “Biosphere” premiere, “Mel ran a tight ship. It was 100 pages and we shot it in 14 days. So we were flying, we shot it real real fast.”

While “Biosphere” was a short production, Eslyn is no stranger to a quick turnaround. She recalls the seven-day shoot for the 2016 feature “Blue Jay,” which she produced: “I know how to do things quickly, make the best use of what you have and oftentimes very little resources.”

“I know making movies is so hard — I’ve been through it so many times with other people,” said Eslyn. “If I have one location and two actors, we pull up and really focus on the emotions and the intimacy there, I will be able to do more and not kill myself in the process, while also running Duplass Brothers at the same time.”

Eslyn concluded, “Over the years I’ve learned as a producer, that sometimes those limits and restrictions allowed people to be the most creative. I love giving myself the restrictions that I normally give other people because I knew that some of the best things come out of that, not just for myself but including the production design, the cinematography and the actors too.”

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