The symbiotic relationship between Mel Eslyn and Mark Duplass is akin to the dynamic between Mario and Luigi – each vital to the other’s existence. This comedic duo, along with other members of their closely-knit extended family, notably the iconic Lynn Shelton (whom we lost in 2020), has been a cornerstone of the American indie scene for over a decade. With a prolific output, they have collectively shaped the landscape. Now, the cheerleader pom-poms have shifted into Mark’s hands, as it was Mel Eslyn’s turn to step behind the camera for her feature film debut. Notably, Biosphere was made a surprise, last-minute addition at TIFF, and the decision to keep the details of its unraveling a secret only adds to its intrigue. You see, Eslyn packs a lot into a film which by appearances appears to be a simple buddy stuck on a desert island dramedy that pushes besties Billy (Mark Duplass) and Ray (Sterling K. Brown) to a no “man’s land and true new frontiers.
I got to speak to Mel at the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland – we looked back on how Room 104 helped change the landscape, the shorthand between her and Mark, and the score design by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans.