They all play their roles. “I’m definitely the stable one,” says Durkin, the only non-single one of the three; the other two have roommates. He wakes up at 6 a.m. every day to write. “Sean is always working,” says Olsen. “He always likes to make sure everything is going to get done. He doesn’t give himself a break.”
He went to the all-boys Allen-Stevenson School on the Upper East Side until his parents moved upstate (where his mother ran a horse farm; his dad is a businessman). He finished at Kent, a boarding school. Though the film pointedly cuts between the cult’s rustic locavore-gone-mad commune and a posh lake house, Durkin says it’s in no way a critique of materialism. “I’m not a political person,” he says. “I’ve never been extreme. It’s not like I’m not passionate, but I’m able to see both sides of things very equally in life. And, you know, I love my furniture, I love my things. For me it’s about the characters and presenting them for who they are and what their background is without judging them.”
As a director, he’s quiet, bashful, polite; he was intensely embarrassed while shooting the movie’s brief group sex scene.
Mond is the big-dreaming romantic hustler (“the fire,” the others call him). “He’s the one going, ‘No, no, no. We have to do this,’ ” says Campos. He’s the only one of them who grew up with a single mother, Corinne, an English teacher; he got his early education in cinema curling up with her and watching foreign filmswhen they both couldn’t sleep. He describes his Upper West Side youth as “a bunch of kids without fathers running around,” and for a while attended the private Dwight School on a partial scholarship. He acted in commercials as a child, and unlike the other two, he knows how to drive. He ended up graduating from City-As-School, the arty, alternative public high school whose alumni include Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“The whole thing where it was like ‘Another Olsen exists!’ There are lots of us.”
When he was 14, he met an NYU student, Brandon David, who was making DIY films for which they “stole” locations, i.e., shot without permits. At 18, Mond co-produced David’s feature Bristol Boys, the story of the suburban pot dealers David had grown up with in Connecticut. “A lot of the actors and crew were drug dealers and had been in and out of jail,” says Mond. He learned that a good producer never stops and never takes no for an answer. “Brandon would be like, ‘We need an active gym to shoot in. You have twenty minutes. Go get it.’ ” He shamelessly works connections, and nearly every story he tells involves some ex-girlfriend helping him out.
Most recently, he applied those skills to Simon Killer, Campos’s second feature, written on the set of Martha and starring Corbet as a guy who moves to Paris after a breakup and has an affair with a prostitute. Mond befriended the person who signs shooting permits. They shot in the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. He worked with a fixer who could take Campos and Corbet around to “hostess” bars, where they’d meet prostitutes whose stories wound up in the movie.*
Campos is the provocateur film nerd who can’t seem to stop talking. He and Mond knew each other from Dwight but weren’t, they say, friends. Get him going, and you get spontaneous impressions of Scorsese and Tarantino, whom he once prank-called at home. He’s dabbled in stand-up comedy. His father, Lucas Mendes, makes a living saying “inappropriate things” on a round-table show on Brazilian TV; his mother, Rose Ganguzza, managed Brazilian celebrities like Pelé when they came to the U.S. and today is a producer of movies, including theirs.
He grew up in the Village in a family “where we could talk about sex in a very open way,” and recalls discovering at age 10, “before I knew how to masturbate,” public access channel 35, home of Robin Byrd and Al Goldstein and porn chat-line ads. He’s had facial hair since he was 13, which was when he shot his first black-and-white short, Puberty, while in a summer program at the New York Film Academy, where the beard allowed him to pass as 16. It’s dedicated to “Mother, Father, and … Stanley Kubrick.” A Clockwork Orange is, he says, the film that changed his life. So perhaps unsurprisingly, his film Afterschool begins with the main character masturbating to a porno of a woman being strangled.
Mond met Durkin the first week of NYU in a “Sight and Sound” class. They’d both transferred in as sophomores, Mond from the University of Buffalo, Durkin from Hobart College. Each week they’d do projects that played off each other’s. Mond ran into Campos on the street a month later, and the triumvirate was set. “We had the same idea,” says Durkin, “that we wanted to use NYU to, like, find our crew.”
*This article has been corrected to reflect that Josh Mond worked with but did not find the fixer for Simon Killer. The fixer was found by another producer, Matt Palmieri.