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‘Penelope’ First Look: Mark Duplass and Mel Eslyn’s TV Series Follows a Teen Runaway with Austin Abrams Co-Starring

Mark Duplass and producing partner Mel Eslyn are continuing their Sundance reign with the debut of series “Penelope.”

The entirely independently financed and produced series follows the titular Penelope (Megan Stott), a teen who feels more connected with nature than she does her own family. As Penelope escapes into the wilderness, she seeks to find herself in the coming-of-age indie drama.

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Duplass and Eslyn co-created and co-wrote the series, which is seeking a distributor at the festival. CAA is handling sales. The Duplass Brothers formerly debuted adult animated series “Animals,” which premiered at 2016 Sundance in the early days of the festival expanding to include episodics.

The official synopsis reads: Feeling out of place in the modern world, 16-year-old Penelope (Stott) finds herself almost cosmically drawn to nature. With no plan in place, she leaves her family behind for the beguiling wilderness where she begins to establish a different kind of life for herself. As Penelope forges an alternative life for herself, survivalism and coming-of-age go hand-in-hand as she learns by trial and error.

“Euphoria” actor Austin Abrams co-stars. The series is executive produced by Jay Duplass and Shuli Harel.

Eslyn, who made her directorial debut with “Biosphere,” serves as showrunner and director on “Penelope.” Eslyn is the longtime head of Duplass Brothers Productions, and was part of a discussion with IndieWire’s Crafts editor Chris O’Falt for a panel discussion in partnership with Adobe. The conversation focused on Eslyn and Duplass’ partnership behind projects such as HBO’s “Room 104,” “Somebody Somewhere,” Hulu’s “Sasquatch,” and of course, new release “Penelope.”

Duplass previously said at Sundance 2021 that niche projects are finding the right homes at various streamers. To note, the Duplass Brothers had a four-picture deal with Netflix at the time.

“I think what distributors are finding right now is that it actually doesn’t matter if it’s a massive group of people that are watching what you’re doing. They have to be extremely passionate,” Duplass said. “So a tiny portion of the pie who truly wants this stuff is enough — and that’s basically the only reason I’m still in business.”

“Penelope” premieres January 22 at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Check out the first look images and behind-the-scenes photos below.

“Penelope”<cite>Allyson Riggs</cite>
“Penelope”Allyson Riggs
“Penelope”<cite>Allyson Riggs</cite>
“Penelope”Allyson Riggs
“Penelope”<cite>Allyson Riggs</cite>
“Penelope”Allyson Riggs

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