It’s been two decades since brothers and mumblecore mavens Mark and Jay Duplass called Texas home. But shortly after taking the stage at Austin’s Stateside theater during this year’s South by Southwest festival, Mark Duplass told an easy-to-laugh crowd what he’s been saying publicly in interviews for years: the brothers cut their teeth in Texas (Austin, specifically), and have relied on the sort of casual creativity SXSW aims to foster since they were twentysomethings with filmmaking aspirations that didn’t quite fit the Hollywood mold.  

This time, though, Duplass wasn’t pledging his allegiance to Texas (or reminiscing on when he used to volunteer at SXSW to earn his attendance) before premiering one of his signature small-budget films. Instead, he was presenting a tasting platter of television pilots for four separate—and very different—independent series, all of which have had a full season shot by Duplass Brothers Productions. 

“The middle of television is disappearing right now. That special middle where Phoebe Waller-Bridge came from and where I May Destroy You came from, because everybody is shrinking down right now, and they’re merging. If we don’t protect this stuff, if we don’t actively go in and make it, it’s going to disappear,” Duplass told the crowd. “My brother and I started noticing that, so we decided to start making TV shows independently, just like we did for films.”

The four pilots showcased at SXSW cover a range of topics and were shot in distinct styles. There is a quiet episode of Penelope, which follows a sixteen-year-old runaway through a surprisingly benevolent world. “If we had tried to make this in a traditional studio, they would have wanted us to speed it up, or they’d probably ask us to make the animals talk back to her or something like that,” Duplass said of the show, which is inspired by his own teenage daughter. Ryley Walker & Friends is a documentary series focusing on a grungy and romantic young musician who finds unlikely companions. In the episode screened, Walker hangs out with English singer-songwriter Bridget St John, best known for her albums recorded in the sixties and seventies. In deep contrast, the other two pilots (The Broadcast and The Long Long Night) capture, respectively, a slapstick, dystopian TV news broadcast and a wry look at what happens when two environmental extremists’ suicide pact goes wrong.

Duplass Brothers Productions doesn’t yet know what will come of the four series, but as Duplass outlined, the hope is that streaming services will buy them and follow the traditional model: test them on their platforms and then make a call on whether or not they’d like to move forward with another season. This cyclical process will likely be made all the easier by the notably shorter downtime between conceiving and putting out new work in independent production.

“For those of you who don’t know, the TV world usually takes about like three to five years to get your show made,” Duplass told the Stateside crowd. “From the moment I tweeted at Natalie [Palamides] to literally getting six rough cuts, to the episodes, was like six months. It was so fast.”

All of the admirable reasons to help and support new and lesser-known creators aside, Duplass is also opting to remain a stalwart of independent production for a host of self-proclaimed self-serving reasons, too. 

“The fact that I can tap people and offer whatever I can offer, which mostly in this case is like a little bit of cash, some equipment, some supportive uncle energy, and, in some cases, collaboration, it stops me from getting the yips and just making shitty art as I fade into the second half of my life,” he said. “I get to be reinvigorated and collaborate, and my company gets to stay relevant and cool and interesting.”

For aspiring Texas filmmakers, there’s a valuable thread to be pulled from the new (or old and newly applied) Duplass model: whether through state incentives that bolster creatives in their artistic forging or leaner production models with fulgurant turnaround times, there are ways to clear the path for a wide variety of filmmakers and TV producers to get their work in front of viewers. All the better if it’s done in a timely manner that allows production companies to be truly responsive to the dynamic tastes and interests of a cultural landscape that is morphing faster than ever.

 Now, that’s something to mumble about.