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Lynn Shelton on “Humpday”

Lynn Shelton on “Humpday” (photo)

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If there were a prize for most outrageous premise at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Lynn Shelton’s “Humpday” would be ahead of the pack. The film follows Ben (“The Puffy Chair”‘s Mark Duplass) and Andrew (“The Blair Witch Project”‘s Joshua Leonard), two hetero friends who on a drunken night out come up with a plan to shoot themselves having sex with each other as a submission to their local alt-weekly’s annual amateur porn festival — it’s art, you see, and neither is willing to be the one to back down when sobered up the next day. For now, though, “Humpday” will have to settle for being Sundance’s early buzz film, its mix of squirmingly uncomfortable comedy, painfully realistic dialogue and bittersweet exploration of the ins and outs of male friendship and adult relationships winning the love of audiences and potential distributors alike. I sat down with the Seattle-based Shelton, fresh off a meeting with one of the latter, to talk about homemade porn and best bromance.

So… is Humpfest a real event?


And are the films that actually play there as, well, high concept as the one planned in “Humpday”?

I will admit that I have never been to Hump. It’s actually now called Hump — I think it was originally called Humpfest, that’s what I always remembered it being. It’s put on by The Stranger and it just finished its fourth year this October.From what I’ve heard, it’s a wide array. It’s amateur. It really is. Some filmmakers do it under pseudonyms, but I think it really is [mostly] just average people. I’m told that it’s like 75 percent not real porn, a lot of humorous stuff, goofy stuff like Sock Puppet Sex. [There are] some really artistic takes, but it’d be rare to see straight up normal porn. People really take it as an opportunity to play.

Did the festival spark the idea of the film, or did the film come first, with Hump worked in after?

The starting point of the film was Mark Duplass, who was in my same circle of filmmaker friends, but who I’d never met him in person until he came up to Seattle to act in a movie called “True Adolescents.” We found that our philosophies really coincided, and watching him act just completely blew me away. For me, I start with a person and then fish around for ideas and interesting challenges. I have to admit that the sexy hook angle was an attractive one — the idea of having a movie that actually might be marketable, or provide opportunity for some humor and real dramatic tension at the same time. I called Mark and said, essentially, I have this idea: two best friends who were real close in college, they’re a little bit older now, with two different personality types and lifestyles. They get into a situation where they decide that that have to try and have sex — I wasn’t even sure it was going to be making a porn.

01172009_humpday2.jpgMy buddy Joe Swanberg was in town staying with me, and he went to see Hump — with his interest in human sexuality, it was sort of a must-see for him. He was so funny for the next two days. He talked a lot about the gay porn he’d seen. He was really interested in it as a filmmaker and as a straight guy, the feelings it brought up in him as a straight guy…it was intriguing for him because he’d seen gay porn before. He couldn’t stop talking about it. It got my wheels turning. In the back of my head I have these themes I’d love to touch on in work at some point, and one of them has always been the boundaries of sexual identity. I’ve always been very fluid there and so I thought that most people were probably ultimately [the same]. [laugh] But I’ve realized that no, for some people, it’s much more rigid — especially for straight guys. Not all men, for sure, but a lot of straight guys I know seem particularly invested in being reassured and reassuring everybody else around them that they really are straight. So I thought it would be really great to take people who were particularly invested in their sexual identity, especially straight guys, who take each other so seriously and can be so competitive. That was where it all started.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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