Jay Duplass was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and eventually studied film at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1994 his collaborative student film Seen fared well on the festival circuit, and Connect 5 (another collaborative student effort) was acquired for distribution by Troma Films in 1997. His thesis screenplay South Lafouche was a semi-finalist script in the 1998 Nichols Fellowship screenplay contest. From 1996 until 2003, Jay edited several independent films in Austin, Texas, most notably Comrades, a documentary about friends in former Yugoslavia.In 2002 Jay collaborated with his brother Mark on This is John, a short film shot digitally for $3 dollars. It was accepted into Sundance 2003, and earned the brothers a representation deal with William Morris. They returned to Sundance 2004 with another digitally shot short, Scrabble. And the following year, they premiered their third short, The Intervention, at Berlin 2005, where it won the Silver Bear and the Teddy Award.2005 also marks the release of Jay and Mark's feature film debut, The Puffy Chair, which premiered at Sundance 2005, won an audience award at SXSW 2005, and was a part of "best of the fest" at Edinburgh 2005.
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