JJ “Loco” Perry spent the last 25 years as a Stunt Coordinator and Second Unit Director, directing and designing action for talent such as Dwayne Johnson, Tom Hardy, Jason Statham, Keanu Reeves and Will Smith. A member of the prestigious 87Eleven Action Design, Perry previously collaborated with directors such as Ang Lee, Justin Lin, Chad Stahelski, F. Gary Gray, Spike Lee and Paul Feig – which prepared him for his feature directorial debut on DAY SHIFT.
Perry has trained additional actors for stunts such as Gina Carano (HAYWIRE), Gerard Butler (300), Milla Jovovich (ULTRAVIOLET), Hugh Jackman (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) and Kiefer Sutherland (“24”). He’s also worked with Joss Whedon on ANGEL and FIREFLY and Mike Norris on WALKER, TEXAS RANGER.
Perry was nominated for a SAG Award in 2009 for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble for IRON MAN and nominated for a World Stunt Award in 2013 for SAFE and won in 2004 for Best Overall Stunt in THE RUNDOWN.
After graduating high school, Perry served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Corps. He started his martial arts training in 1975 and began stunt-work after he got out of the Army. He has had over 24 years of martial arts training and has a 5th-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a 2nd-degree on Hapkido and has experience with all kinds of weapons. He got his black belt for Tae Kwon Do at the age of 12 and competed from the age of 7 till 24. Besides martial arts, Perry is also skilled in cycling, rodeo and weightlifting. He is the co-founder of Taekwondo West martial arts schools in Inglewood, California, and Venice, California.
J.J. PERRY’s directorial debut, DAY SHIFT, is an action-comedy that begins a new franchise for Netflix starring Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg and Dave Franco. DAY SHIFT follows a hard-working blue-collar dad (Fox) who just wants to provide a good life for his daughter. But his mundane San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income, hunting and killing vampires as part of an international union of vampire hunters. DAY SHIFT premieres on NETFLIX August 12, 2022.
Take a quick inside look on the making of Day Shift.
Enjoy my conversation with JJ “Loco” Perry.
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J.J. Perry 0:00
Day Shift is an example of stuff we get everything in camera, even the contortions, I just shot it in reverse. And so it's so you know, like, doesn't speak to me to do to work on a big cartoon movie. And I've worked on a ton of movies where everything's animated, you spent five months in a blue screen stage. That's not what I want to do.
Alex Ferrari 0:17
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show. JJ Perry. How're you doing JJ?
J.J. Perry 0:32
Good my brother, how are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:34
I'm good, man. I'm good. Now there is sometimes I see in your credits. There's another name in between JJ and Perry. Which is locco? Is Is that Is that true, sir? Look at all. For people who are listening, he just stood up and showed me his tattoo of locco on his stomach. Listen, before we even get started brother I've worked with a ton of stunt people over the over the course of my career. I have yet to meet a stunt person who's not nuts in the best, most beautiful loving way that word could be used. I've I've had this is what this is. This is this is the conversation with some people when I ever worked with him on his set as a director. I need you to jump off that and you jump off that that building over there he goes, Can I can I go play? Can we go five floors? No, no, I just third floors fine. No, no, I can do I can go 10 floors, I can just move on. I could do 15 If you want to do and you want me to be on fire, I could be on fire. I need it for my real can I be on fire too? And I'm like, can I work? So it's like, no matter what I asked, they'd be like, no, no, no, that's not enough. We can I could drive the car off the roof on fire flip through.
J.J. Perry 1:39
Oh, that's kind of the that's kind of the mentality. You know, like, it's we're always trying to go bigger, faster, stronger. You know, that's kind of the where the where the mindset is always trying to outdo what we did last time. You know, it's like anything else, you know, you you want to step one step beyond what you did last time, we always trying to we're always trying to push the envelope.
Alex Ferrari 1:56
No, absolutely. And, and every every staff person I've ever worked with has been the utmost professional. And it seems like they're not, but there's so calculated and so specific about what they're doing. So everyone stay safe, you know, and all that kind of stuff because I mean, you know, stuff that you guys do is this insane and, and it can't go wrong. And it's really it's really amazing what you do and you met so let's take it let's take it back where the how and why did you get into this insanity that is the film business.
J.J. Perry 2:25
So I graduated from high school back in 86 out of out of Stanford, Texas, and I worked on two films that came through Houston one was called pray for death. It was a show Kosugi film back when the ninja craze was out. And another one was call. They still call me Bruce. It was like an action comic.
Alex Ferrari 2:43
I remember. I remember that movie dude those amazing.
J.J. Perry 2:46
Johnny and the Korean guy, Korean actor. And so you know, I'd already sworn in to go to join the army. So there was no getting out of that. And towards the end of my stint in the army I out processed two to Fort Ord California. I was that's where I was going to out process from. And when I was at Fort Ord, I was on the army taekwondo team. At the time I was going down, I was competing all over California and all over, you know, the US and et cetera. And I went down to LA a couple times to compete. And some of the guys I was competing against were were stunt men. And you know, because I'd been stationed Korea for a year I was I had a leg up on him. You know, I was you know, competing on a very high level at that time. And but one of the guys who's no longer with his name is Chris Cornell was a dear friend of mine. He died in a motorcycle wreck a couple years ago. But he were the same size, same age. And I was like, what do you get? He had nice shoes, nice car, and I was like, Dude, what are you drunk? Do you because No, man, I'm a stuntman. And coming down from from Fort Ord, you know, like, came down and train a few times. About two weeks later, he said, Hey, man, there's a big audition here for a movie called Lionheart it was Van Damme second movie. Yeah, so I took a three day pass drove down and booked the job but the problem was when I went back to ask my first sergeant if I could you know take three weeks off to do a movie he was like, No, you can do no movie boy you we got work to do. We got Army work to do boy so they called me Hollywood up until the time I out processed and then I told them you know, like I said, you know, I didn't know what I was going to do at that time. I figured I would go down to LA and give it a try. I didn't really know anyone except for Chris and I figured you know I'm gonna give it a try and so I just drove down to five South never made the left turn on the tend to go back to Texas and I thought I would probably fuck that up for sure and be back in the army at no time because I knew they'd be saving a seat at the table for me but it just worked out and here we are 32 years later talking about my talking about my movie that I just directed which I can't believe so I never expected any of this my brother I fumbled my way through all of it. And I'm super grateful for every moment that I've had.
Alex Ferrari 4:53
So what was so what was your first big break in the as a as a stunt guy?
J.J. Perry 4:59
Well, So we kind of broke down like this. I didn't really the first week I landed in LA I, I was answering phones at a taekwondo school on Wilshire in La Jolla as well to some taekwondo. And there was a call for they were looking for guys for the cross trainer, Reebok commercial, the very first one for the Super Bowl at that time. And one of the guys that she said, Hey, I don't have my car, can you give me a lift one of the guys that was like an actor type, do did had an agent and whatever. So I drove him over there. And it was in it was in West Hollywood. Park, he goes in, he's taking a while. So I put 50 cents in the meter. I go upstairs and the lady says, Hey, did you put your name down on so I wrote down my name and the number of the taekwondo school. And then I wrote down my friend's name and his agents name and I went in because the movie The commercial was about, it was about basic training. It was like called the Reebok cross trainer pumps. But it was like, they shave your head. It was like an army thing. So I went in there. I was like, Barry, JJ, ak 541109. You know, they were like, oh, shoot, who's this guy? You know, I just literally just got out of the army. And I booked booked that job. So that's how it started? No, I didn't anticipate like when the when the checks started coming in the mailbox. Or, you know, you know, you make 750 bucks a month in the army. I almost started crying, you know, and, and then we have been forever.
Alex Ferrari 6:21
So for everybody listening. You were in a Superbowl commercial. What was we talking about? The early mid 80s?
J.J. Perry 6:26
No, I'm talking about like, 1990 for the
Alex Ferrari 6:30
Right. So your your 1990 Superbowl commercials, the money the residuals off flop? Flop? It's insane. I'm talking about 10s of 1000s of dollars in 1990.
J.J. Perry 6:43
Yep, yeah, that's true. And then then I started doubling a double Lorenzo Lamas a few times down on Renegade, we're down in San Diego, then I doubled Russell Wong and a TV series called vanishing son that that I told you about Jeff cut TNT earlier, a dear friend of ours. Yeah. And kind of how it started, you know, like stunt work is networking. And, you know, it's kind of like they're, they're always looking for the man or woman that's not scared to go big, and it's safe. And they're not looking for the crazies. They're looking for the calculated smart, you know, individuals who, who are ready to go big and have a strong physicality and, you know, having a background in Taekwondo and being in the military, like, when I got out of the army, I didn't realize what I wouldn't be able to apply some of the skills I learned in the army was except for being a cop. But then I quickly realized that, you know, the hard work and the work ethic of being in the Army after the army, nothing else is really ever hard again, you know, so I got that out of the way pretty quick in life. So it was really easy for me to get up at five in the morning and do my road work and go out and meet people and do my thing. So yeah, that's how it all happened for me was those two TV shows got me going in that commercial. And here we are.
Alex Ferrari 7:50
So but so there is I mean, I think there is a stunt school now. But there was Was there anything like a stunt score? Did you just learn on the job,
J.J. Perry 7:56
Learn on the job, and I'll never forget my first car hit, you know, I had to do a get hit by a car on Renegade, they wanted me to want to run into the middle of the street with a with a with a female stunt woman, there's a briefcase and illustrating, they want us to race to the briefcase, and then a Lincoln Continental hits us both. So I'm thinking to myself, you know, I don't want to seem like a you know, like, I don't know what I'm doing. But I also don't want to get killed or make a mistake and hurt my my, my counterpart. So I asked the stunt coordinator, I said, Well, you know, What's the objective of this? He said, Well, your objective is not to get underneath the car row. So, so Right, right, or get light on your feet, write up the hood, get up into the windshield, and if he punches you through, just go all the way over. And if he doesn't just get you know, get outside the car. And so what I did was I just got very aggressive and I the car actually hits you, but I in my mind, I was thinking I'm gonna hit the car. And next thing I know, it was light, it was darker, his life was darker, his life was dark, and boom, I was on the pavement. I was like, Oh, that was so bad. You know. So there was my first part of it.
Alex Ferrari 8:57
I gonna ask you man and I've always wanted to ask, I always wanted to ask them a stunt guy this. What is it in the brain? There's something in your mind in your brain that allows you to go hey, that wasn't so bad. You just said. I think that's absolutely horrific, personally, because that's not that's not in my DNA. So what is it? What is that thing that stunt people have? That not only do they want to do it and enjoy doing it, but they want to continue to one up themselves and keep pushing themselves physically with the complexity of this stuff. And we haven't gotten into fight coordination which we'll get into but but just instance there's something in the DNA of some people that I've at least that I've experienced. What is that? I'd love to hear your opinion on that.
J.J. Perry 9:42
So the generation before me that what I came in were a lot there were a lot of cowboys, you know, and being from Texas, I'm you know, kind of a cowboy too, but that background of riding rodeo or bull riding or bronc riding or or bulldogging you know, you have to be able to you know, can't can't be scared to get hit. So a lot of stuff Non performers come from, you know, a rodeo background or an athletic background like football players or so. But for me, I had 168 amateur fights when I got out of the army. So, like, I wasn't scared to get hit. And you know, being an athlete on that level, like being on the national team or being competing on that level, you have to, there's a lot of me, there's that moment of truth that we all have, you know, like that where you can't lie in that moment, you have to be very real about what's going to happen and you have to make peace with it, you have to be calm in that moment, in all those years of competition, and being in the Army helped me settle into being in a very precarious position. And being being at peace with it, and making up my mind, okay, I did one you can, it's not just like, you're gonna do one, you're gonna get one time, you're probably gonna do it three or four times. It's also pain management, it's also your ability to to strive under pain, like when you get when you're getting hurt now that the difference between getting hurt and getting injured, getting hurt means you get up and do it again, getting injured means you're and you're on a ride and in an ambulance to the hospital gets sewn up or a broken bone. So I would say that most of the stunt performers, we all share the same likes, you know, like, we all came from an athletic background, or you know, X Games now, which I think are some of the most amazing people parkour athletes. Now, you know, UCLA liberal level, gymnasts, some of the some of the best female stunt performers that I work with were elite gymnast at some point, because, you know, you think like, my daughter is in gymnastics, and she started when she was four, but you have the little girls doing this, where they're peeling their hands up, and they're dealing with pain, and there, it's all about that one second, that you have to hit the vault, right? You know, you have to gather all that, you have to make up your mind, I'm going for it. So that's kind of like doing being a stunt performer. You know, you just have to be able to, to not lie in the moment of truth to be present in the moment of truth and execute, you know, so it's all about seeing yourself do it. So I feel like that's something that we all have in common. You know, like one of the one of the big things for me is like being on the road with a bunch of like minded folks coming up with just killer ways to physically displace humans, that's my job, you know, is, is coming up with clever ways to do it, but not injure them, you know, but make it like, because now there's more movies and more content being made than any time in the history of cinema, film. And the expectations are way higher, when way higher, you know, that like with video games, and anime, and all these other things that kids are watching. Now they, you know, diehard is a great example of a movie that I loved in the 80s. But if you if you put a 16 year old kid to watch that now, they'll be on their phone looking at their Instagram in 20 minutes. You know, it's just it's not what they're, it's not going to capture their attention. You know what I mean? It's it's stuff that we've done already, which is it's AMAZING film. And I've got to work with McKiernan before. He's an amazing director. But that's an example to me of where it came from, and where it's going. You know,
Alex Ferrari 12:49
That's really interesting, because, I mean, I was watching, cuz I'm a huge fan of fall guy, the original show back in the day. And my wife and I were watching it. This is like, probably five, six years ago, we sat down and we watched the first full first season because we're like, oh, man, remember, fall guy. Let's go back and watch those man, those were frickin awesome. And you're watching it. And as you're watching what they did on a weekly basis, on a weekly basis, you're like, that was all real. Like, these guys are insane. You don't see that kind of that kind of stunt work in television today. It was just, they were doing gags. I mean, jumping off roofs, I'm like, full blown. It was insane what they were doing. And you're going back. And that's Oh, that was all in camera. We're now I think and you've seen you've started at a point where it was all still in Canberra. And now you've got digital stunt performers doing some really insane stuff. But I do think that as as, as the audience, we can tell when, you know, Fast and Furious is fun. But you know, and the Marvel movies are fun. But, and there's some performers that do do stuff there is great, but when you watch something like John Wick, you feel it a lot more. And you've been on you've worked on John Wick, obviously, but you feel that this is not a CG situation.
J.J. Perry 14:08
You know, listen, around 2003 or four, everybody started saying, oh, we'll fix it and post. You know, for me, and I'll tell you something about Fast and Furious, because I've done too. I did eight, nine a second year directed at none. And I'll tell you something, we did wreck 340 cars, and we do go 1000 miles an hour when we're doing those movies. So there is a dirty way to fake fast is to go really fast. It's fast and furious, not slow and curious. But at the end of the day, it's a day for me. It's like I day shift is an example of stuff. We did everything in camera, even the contortions I just shot it in reverse. And so it's all that so you know, like, doesn't speak to me to do to work on a big cartoon movie. I don't I've worked on a ton of movies where everything's animated. You spent five months in a blue screen stage. That's not what I want to do. I don't usually take a look For those jobs, I'm looking for the jobs where I can lock up Edinburgh, Scotland like on Fast and Furious eight, and do a massive car chase and chase flying over cities on wires and fighting and breaking new buildings, or John Wick or you know any of these new like, I'll give an example Gemini Man is another example of an amalgamation of both. We went to Cartagena, Colombia and this massive motorcycle chase that we did all practically. And then with a augmented Will Smith's face onto the motorcycle writer. So there's an element of both that I think works, okay, that I like, when it's a complete digital takeover. And pretty soon, you know, I think action directing is going to be a lost art soon. There's not a lot of this, it's infinitely harder to lock to block a big car chase up, when you got 19 cars and for motorcycles and helicopters and explosions. That's, that's not easy to do. It's actually a lot harder to do than most people think. That's where second unit comes in. And in all the experience that I gained from being a second year director, making the efficient and fast and it's like, it's like, cool, I'm not thinking about my shot. I'm thinking about my next five shots and my leaves to get to every shot. That's, that's filmmaking. I'm running nine cameras sometimes. So it's that it's that nine cameras spread, redirect, next street, the nine cameras that and push pull track counter, and then mount and then go to the next street. So, you know, that's something that I think will be a lot start soon, because there'll be animating those cars at some point, you know, which breaks my heart, but I'll be long gone by then.
Alex Ferrari 16:34
Exactly. No, I mean, yeah, I mean, when I said like fossil fuels, I remember like when they do jumping a car from a building to a building, I'm assuming I didn't do that live? No. But things like that. But yeah, there was in those those shows specifically, there's a ton of cars that they use, and you could tell that there's cook. And that's one of the things that made the original, so amazing, it was all real in camera. And that's the thing you're right, there's a lost art I have to want to ask you is it think it's confusing to a lot of people listening, especially young filmmakers, what is the hierarchy in the stunt department. So you start off with like a stunt performer? What is the hierarchy as far as the department heads and things,
J.J. Perry 17:09
I can tell you the way it went for me, I started as a utility stuntman, then I became a stunt double. And because of my background in martial arts, and being in the army, I started become I started courting, choreographing the fights that I was in. And then that led me to becoming a fight choreographer. And then I became a stunt coordinator. And then I became a second unit director. And you know, there's, there's a lot of ways to climb the ladder, but I feel like that's the long route. But that's the most important route to take. Because if you miss one of the rooms, you want to you want to hit every rung you want to learn every facet of the game, you know, driving motorcycles, water, fighting, falling fire, you know, horseback, every facet, the more facets that are on the diamond, the shinier that diamond is and the more money you can eventually make it with your in your profession. So I wanted to educate myself on every facet of that. And that's that's how it went. For me. It's a bit different now because now there's infinitely more jobs than there are than there were when I started in. Now, you can come in as a specialist on a fight guy, oh, I'm a parkour guy, or I'm a gymnast, or, and that's that's the way they come in. And that's the way they go. So but you know, that doesn't, I'm not knocking them. There's some amazing talent out there. Now with you know, I think once YouTube hit, and editing software became a consumer products, editing software made a lot of us action directors, because once you know how to edit, it informs what you need to shoot. And you know, growing up on watching that as meet at Jackie Chan films where he really changed the game of fightings. And he's one of them. He's an idol of mine, because he's a stuntman that became a star and then became an action director. So I mean, that's, you know, like he was a Charlie Chaplin and a, what's his name? Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton. He was in Kansas, a huge fan of we all are, but that's kind of where his inspiration came from. And our my generation like I came up with Chad's to hausky, and in Dave Leach, and a lot of the guys over at 711 I'm a member of that crew and I'm also a member of sons unlimited. Who were those original guys that did the fall guy since Unlimited is they've been around since 1973. But that's um yeah, but that's kind of how it was. And you know, watching chance trajectory is kind of the way like, has he changed what we do did we took his movies and we were reshoot shoot his action sequences with cameras and then cut them even on VHF, ah, VHS deck to deck until Final Cut became a consumer product we all chipped in, and then we all learn how to edit. And then we became action directors, budding action directors.
Alex Ferrari 19:43
Now, you know, with all the insane, you know, gags that you guys have done over the years has had there ever has there ever been a stunt that you just said, Nah, man, I gotta walk away from this one. This is just too, too risky.
J.J. Perry 19:57
The biggest thing I ever did was getting married to a lawyer. So no, I look at the end of the day. I'm not I'm just okay in the water. You know, I'm not I'm not. I've done it's done though. Did you see the movie? The Rundown? Yeah, of course. Yeah the Roku I was doubling Sean William Scott when we went down the mountain and over the falls and all that shit. Me and Paul Heliopolis and ton of I read Marcos roar we were there was two sets of doubles for each because we were getting so busted up. And there was a scene where we had to go into a lagoon and swim towards a waterfall. And yeah, Bhutan and jeans on and tunnel. I read his Hawaiian, he's from Hawaii's big. He's like a shark. When he gets in the water. He's massive. And he's like, you know, he's got gills you can swim like a fish. And his wife was doubling the girl in there and she's another one grew up in Hawaii. He's like, after take three or four I started getting really tired. I was like, Hey, man, I'm probably need to tap out. So I would say like doing a lot of water work for me is not my forte. I'm like a brick. I'm like a brick from Texas. You put me in the water. And I might go right to the bottom row.
Alex Ferrari 21:02
Fair enough. Now you You also got involved in one of my favorite films of the 90s Mortal Kombat, man. Dude, how did you get involved with them? Then you eventually played some of the parts of like sub zero and those kinds of things. I mean, again, those at the time. I remember at the time and I mean, you couldn't go anywhere without listening to that damn song. In the radio, first of all, what was it? I mean, how did you get involved with that project, man, and how did you guys make it look so cool back then.
J.J. Perry 21:30
So I was I used to have two taekwondo schools in LA while I was a stuntman. I had one in Inglewood. It's called take one to west, one in Inglewood and one in Sherman Oaks. And the one in Sherman Oaks. I had a friend named Dana he who was already working on the movie, she was an Olympic gold medalist from taekwondo. We're friends from my sport from taekwondo. We were teammates like friends, you know, competitors together and dear friends. He was dating Larry cows and off the producer of Mortal Kombat at the time. They were looking for a stunt double for Johnny Cage for the additional photography of Mortal Kombat. One key brings Larry into my school in the middle of one of my classes, and I can see Luke staring at me and I'm like Dino, who's the dude staring Bisleri Cazenovia brutish, and short combat, and, you know, classes over I meet him like, nice to meet you, sir. Can you say Hey, can you show me some kids and I bust out a 540. And I bust out a bunch of oh, man, it's awesome. Can you turn around for me? And I was like, what's that mean? He's looking at the back of my head. So if I could double the actor who's playing Johnny Cage, and he was like, this perfect. Two days later, I get a call from Robin Chu, who was the was the star of the movie. And also one of the fight coordinators and Jeff and moto was a stunt coordinator, I get a call, Hey, you want to come down and double Johnny Cage for the additional fight with scorpion on the on the bamboo bridge thing and it was a it was a big additional scene. So I got to do that. And as soon as that was, you know, as soon as it was a big hit, they greenlit to then I played scorpion and Cyrax into and did some doubling for little doubling for Raiden a little doubling for smoke a little doubling for all the characters but played to the characters. And then when the TV series came out in there, he called me and says, Hey, we come down and double come loud, so double calm loud for the first few episodes. And then they said, Can you play scorpion? Can you play SubZero? And I was like, Yeah, dude, I do whatever. You know, like, I'm happy. Like, I was always concerned about my acting, but when you have that thing on your face, you know, it's like, just zero. So I want some zero now I'm Chubs zero. That's how it goes. But that was like my Mortal Kombat experience. You know, like, I was super, super stoked. Now that a lot of the youngsters that work for me now they pull it up on YouTube, and I'm a little embarrassed about my bad acting and whatever, you know, a loincloth
Alex Ferrari 23:39
It's the 90s Bro, what are you gonna do? Basically bills dog what are you gonna do? It pays the bills and pay the bills? No question. Now, you know, is it as you became a second unit director, which I still think second unit directors are some of the most technically sound directors out there. If you can direct action. You can direct cinema because it's a visual medium. I think what someone who said it is like my favorite directors are action directors like Tony Scott, and those in those kinds of guys who just are so technical, and visual. What are mistakes that directors make when setting up an action sequence that you've seen?
J.J. Perry 24:19
So you know what we've done? Like at 711 is is the team I've been on before that it was called Smash cuts and it was it was kind of a the crew of us that came up in the 90s together likes to hausky leach Marcus young Mike Gunther Danny her net there was a bunch of Brad Martin and Garrett Warren. These are all guys that are prominent social media directors now that are running the they're running all the fights up in the last 30 years what we did once the Final Cut came out we start shooting stunt does what which is an act we shoot and cut the sequence before we go to the set on we make a room full of boxes that measures out from the production designer and then we shooting cut it sure offer shot where we make the action the star. Without we want to tell our students certain story points after having a discussion with the director, and a discussion with the DP about his style, you know, like, and we, we give them a broad outline of what it would look like, based on their version. And usually we get it right within three versions, like we tied it up within three verses, I've been paired up in the past few years with a lot of first and second time directors, I get paired up with them often to, you know, to help when it comes to the action, it can be quite daunting, you know, like, if you're not used to doing it. And you're right, locking up Scotland with a bunch of cars, and doing why work over a city, and using nine cameras, is infinitely harder. Now that I've done both than directing a scene with three people in a room talking, unless you don't have three good actors. Well, there's bad actors, maybe it's way harder. But my point being the technical execution of that the application of filmmaking is is extremely difficult, especially when you're going 70 miles an hour. And you're gonna go like through seven streets with explosions and whatever, and you have a finite amount of time to do it. Because second unit is never is elaborate, or is funded is first unit is it has to be a streamlined, streamlined event that that moves like that moves like a rocket. So I think one of the mistakes that one of the mistakes that a lot of first and second time directors make is not having a clear vision of what they want. And sometimes my job is to help them discover their vision, whether he or she knows what it is or not. So it's my kind of I always take it upon myself is it's my job, and they don't know, to show them. And they give them options too. That's my job as a stunt coordinator, as a fight coordinator, and a second unit director is to help the director achieve their vision of the action, which is harder than achieving your vision of the action. When I know what I want, I always know what I want. So as a director, I came in with a really solid plan for my movie, I'd had to set my production designer, Greg Berry, we already knew what the sets were going to be and where to put the neoprene in which walls needed to fly because the cameras gonna do this I already knew. So it's, it's it's a new, it's like, it's in the neighborhood that I've been roaming around for 32 years. And if you're new to the neighborhood, it's easy to get lost. And I think a lot of the one of the things that some directors are a little intimidated by is they don't want to, they don't want to, they want to go out and wander around and find it for themselves. And that's cool. But we're not in film school, we're in film work when we're making a movie. So you do have a finite amount of time. And you have to be decisive because every decision you make, as a director has a ripple effect from all of the departments that it has to go to production designer, okay, you're fighting, go to tear this costume needs to go, you punch him here, what makeup needs this, you're gonna break his arm props and prosthetic arm needs to go and using. So you have to be decisive and give your team a chance to react to your decisions. So it's not last minute. And this is one of the mistakes that I think a lot of first time directors make is there. They don't want to decide that they will not make decisions in time.
Alex Ferrari 28:20
Now, when you were involved with John Wick, I mean, that must have been a dream. Like that project must be because it was just such a old school approach to fights. And it's not like being caught 50,000 angles. It's like you see Keanu beaten up three guys one shot. And you it's not like the famous one is like, you know, I don't know if you know who shot taken three or two or whatever. But you see, you know, I saw this one, this one sequence somebody on YouTube, it was so beautiful. It's like, it's Liam running and jumping across a fence as he's chasing somebody with 75 cards. I was like no joke was a tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick tick. As opposed to something like John Wick you just look at and you're like, that's just that's a What was it like to just get in the car and go on. I'm not gay brother.
J.J. Perry 29:09
So I was on Expendables three in Bulgaria with Jason Statham and Sylvester Stallone on a container in, in, in. In Sofia shooting machine guns when Chad Stahelski called me we're, we're teammates and you know, mad respect to Chad and Dave for what all that they've accomplished. You know, they that style of mixing Judo with jujitsu in gun work. He calls me and I was about to finish up in Expendables three he said, Hey, listen, I'm doing the shoot out in a nightclub in New York on this on my movie John Wick. I need your help because I was in the army. So I know how to work the gun work and and look, we were all a big fans of hardboiled. You know, the John was so but I want to get my hands on those Chinese guns that have 500 bullets in them. He never reloads I love those guns. I want to get one of those. But that's one of the things that we one of the monitors will I was that we would be true to that. If you're running a Glock 17. With a regular magazine, you have 15. And one, you have an extended mag you get at 17 and one or 18 and one. So that was it, I got the call to come down, they were shooting the lat the final scene out in the dark when he's fighting the father of the guy at the end, he gives me an address of a nightclub and says we want to shoot, we want to start shooting, we're gonna shoot this nightclub scene at this place. Can you go there, I got there on a Friday afternoon. They're shooting at night. So I just drove to that address gave the door guy 100 bucks to let me in and walk through there. He said it'll start at the top. When you go up the stairs, the room you're right and started as a door to walk in. You'll go through we'll work our way all the way around the top floor, and then we'll the beginning of it will pull into the dance floor. So I just walked with my iPhone doing a first person shooter it patrons of the club, then I would turn the phone around to myself do a reload. And then so what John Wick is it's exactly the opposite. It's reverse first person shooter. It's always on Qian and pulling him and then wrapping in until it falls apart. And then we do it all over again. So it's a big pool into a rap. And that's that's technically the idea that theory of shooting. So you see Keanu Reeves is doing this. So for me once a week once I got there and we started working that out. I knew right away looking into monitors with Chad and Dave, I was like, Dude, we're on one. You guys are on one right now. As it's cutting edge, because in your gun. This is the thing. Now that I've done a John Wick I've done to you I did the just the club scene shoot out in the first one. And then I did all of the second one. And we upped Keanu was training camp for the second one because what Chad said to me said, how can we make to better than one I said, Well, you have to make Keanu better. So we put him in a really hard jujitsu camp Judo camp, took him to a three gun range and hadn't trained by a, you know, a 14 time world three gun champion, Taran Butler up here in Simi Valley, we just made him better, and then let the camera run longer. So you know, that was it was one of the highlights of my career because I'm a dear friend and fan of Keanu Reeves. I'm a huge fan of Chester house because we go back 30 years, one of the first people I met when I got out of the Army, he's been a huge a huge ally. You know, like, again, I didn't really have a plan when I got out of the army. I just didn't want to fuck things up and have to end up back in the army. But you know, Chad, you know, went to USC, he was always a he always knew that he I think he always knew he was going to be a director. And I really admire that I kind of watched where he walked in the snow and followed his footsteps. So you know, he was actually a producer on day shift. He was the one that I took it to the gotten greenlit. So that was, you know, that was one of the big, helping him out and working with our team at at 711 was, it's always a pleasure. There was a lot of hitters on that movie, bro. And the first and second one.
Alex Ferrari 32:53
So it's so funny because I remember Dave, I met Dave on in Sundance 2005 When he was promoting as a sledge. Yep. You remember that movie?
J.J. Perry 33:08
Yeah, we worked on it. We all do it.
Alex Ferrari 33:10
You weren't. So I was yeah, he was like he was doing like a stunt thing. And I met him and we hung out for a while. And this is before you know, a few years before he did John Wick. But as I was watching his career gromek Matt got blessed. I'm so glad he's, he's done good for, for himself over the years, man. It's, it's awesome. Now,
J.J. Perry 33:32
You know, if you look at if you look at stunt performers trajectory, like I've worked on 150 features, and over 300 episodes of TV, when you're working with Angley, gently Spike Lee, when you've worked with everyone, you have to learn something if you're paying attention. You know, like that's a different I guess the difference between a stunt guy and a stunt man, a stunt guy is just trying to make a bunch of money and get some toys. A stuntman is out there trying to make the movie better, and he's paying attention to every shot and trying to make every shot better. So you know, being being a stunt man, you know, and learning from some of the masters and learning just as much from second and first and second time directors on what not to do sometimes. Right part of my film school. And you know, Dave and Chad are alike. So the first one is the guy who directed from my group that directed smoking the bandit. Okay, I'll need him. How's that? Yeah. So he busted out in the 70s. He's one of the founders of my group sons Unlimited, you know, so he's one of the guys that busted out and you have a few stunt directors who in the US that have done some movies, you know, like Jackie Chan, for me is one of the all time greats because he, you know, he took it completely to the next level and there and he did stuff that we're still doing now. But Chad and Dave, for me, were instrumental in opening the door. And hopefully that door gets torn off the hinges because in the mid 2000s, in the early 2000s, there was this wave of visual effects directors. were directing movies. And the difference between us and them not to knock them is they don't have a human experience when you're making a visual effects previous you're on a computer and the computer will do exactly what you tell it to do. Right now. Fast forward to me training Keanu or US training. Tom Hardy and warrior Joel Edgerton, and warrior or Charlize here on on on atomic blonde OS them, we're training them, we're trying to do this, we're directing them, we're making them badass, don't best way to fake being a badass is just to make them a badass, we're directing them, and we have their trust. So when we're on set, and someone says, Why don't want to stand over here, I want to stand over there. I'm like, I can adjust quickly. But that Visual Effects Director was like, Well, wait a minute, no, my you know, they don't know how it aired, the computer does exactly what they tell them to do. When they get the human effect. When the human effect comes in. It became very difficult for them. And also it's, it's the interfacing as a stunt coordinator, you're constantly interfacing with all the other departments. So you have this dialogue and this repertoire with everyone on the movie and production meetings go into their offices. So I know how to communicate with everyone. I have a relationship with pretty much every crew anywhere because I've filmed in 36 countries. So it's a huge advantage for us is action directors becoming directors because we have this film, not film school experience. But filmmaking experience, which is entirely different than theory, its execution. It's like fighting the guy that hits the bag all day. You don't know what he's gonna do when he gets punched in the face. But the guy that spars all day, he's reactive, and proactive and hyperactive, you know? So that's, that's my take on on action directing. That's my take on it.
Alex Ferrari 36:43
Well, it's kind of like Mike Tyson has everyone's got a plan to get punched in the face,
J.J. Perry 36:46
Amen, my brother.
Alex Ferrari 36:49
You can be as badass as you want. But so you get that first punch in the face. All that stuff goes out the window really quickly.
J.J. Perry 36:56
Alex Ferrari 36:57
So man, I got a chance to watch your new film day shift brother. First of all, congratulations. When I saw it, I was just like, I was expecting great action. I got great action. And then as I was seeing some of the techniques in the movie, I was watching it and I'm like, Oh, this is all old school style in camera stuff like Yes. And then when I saw the contortionist vampires, I was like, Oh, yes, he did. Like, because then you can't be yes, that it's so many you could do visual effects to do that. But man, when you get a contortionist out there doing crazy stuff, it just brings such reality. So tell everybody what the movie is about. And then we'll get into the how you made it.
J.J. Perry 37:37
So the movies about a man that got out of the army a lot like me, gets trying to keep his family together. And you know, LA's a tough place to live brother, like when I got out of the army, I was not prepared for rent and insurance and etc, etc. So he's, he's a guy that that has a job cleaning pools, and he augments his his income by killing vampires and selling their teeth in an underground in an underground market of vampire hunters that extract vampire teeth and kill them. And what really attracted me to this, you know, I've been reading a lot of scripts, and I was super stoked just being a stunt coordinator and secondary director, making a ton of dough flying all over the world, smashing people with all my friends, and then getting on a plane and going somewhere else and doing it all over again. It was a big risk for me to step out and direct a film. So I was going to be very picky and I read a bunch of scripts. Oh, JJ, you were in the army. You should do a movie about PTSD. cybers I was like, No, man, the world's dark right now. You know, right now with COVID and a double feature of monkey pox and a triple feature of war in Ukraine, the Worldstar you can turn on the news right now and find 1000 reasons to want to turn it off. I when I saw when I read the script, Dacia It spoke to me immediately because big drum a little china Lost Boys Evil Dead. Fright Night from the 80s Action, Comedy horror. I don't have a message. There's no I'm not trying to tell anyone to do anything or change anyone's mind. I just want them to enjoy having those three elements Action, Comedy and horror. I always will have the upper hand on the audience. I can wow them with action. I can make them laugh with comedy, and I can make them jump with horror. So using those three tiers, those three elements of those three layers of attack, it was like triangulating my crossfire on the audience to keep them right where I wanted them. The script spoke to me because there's an underground world of vampires and an underground world of hunters that chase them which is just like John Wick, but so that's what they were coming I got a lot of John Wick ish scripts s scripts. I was like I did that man and I don't want to bite on what Chad and Keanu are doing now. People will always say like John Wick, you know, but this in the movie I made is not John Wick with vampires. It's definitely not I definitely wanted to get as far away from that as I could because I'd already worked on that and I don't want to. I want to give the bout to my bros it at 711 Chad and Dave, they did a great job of that. I don't want to bite on that. There's enough people doing it right now. I got a script. I got it from Sean and Yvette Yates from impossible dream. They brought it to me. They've been big, you know, advocates and then the guy Tyler Tice, who wrote it, Jim, me and him worked on it for about a year. I do we just put big action teeth on it, you know, BT. And then I made it the characters is familiar to me as possible, like big John's character was like my platoon sergeant in the Army buds wife is like my wife, my wife's an attorney. She's the mike tyson of our viewers. You know, so and Bud has a nine year old daughter, I have a nine year old daughter, so I try to make it relatable to me. So when the Thespians would ask me, I would be able to speak intelligently. And I'll be honest, the thing that really worried me more than anything, was the comedy. Yeah, cuz that's something Yeah. But I think I'm funny, but I don't know if anyone else fucking thinks I'm funny.
Alex Ferrari 40:53
So, Gary, Jake, having hairy Jamie Foxx Jamie Foxx is not
J.J. Perry 40:59
Getting Day Shift was a win. Getting Jamie Foxx was winning the water. Oh, so talented. Oh my God. What a G bro and inhuman Dave Franco together.
Alex Ferrari 41:10
Oh great. Great chemistry!
J.J. Perry 41:13
I worked on a movie called spy several years ago with it Paul Feig directed. I did the action for him. And I did some second unit for him. And I watched the I was I first saw, I was hoping this would happen from right when Chad and Dave finished John Wick. I started going to you know, read I'd ask directors when I'd get hired and be like, Hey, can I sit through read through so I wanted to be more a part of that to watch the decisions being made. I really paid attention to Paul on how he directed the action and he had these things posted notes. And he would have it was almost like an accordion a post it notes with bolts that he had scribbled down so when he would just let the camera roll and say oh I tried this or I try this and then he would say okay now run with it. So having Jamie and Dave Franco in the comedy bro just let the cameras roll and let them just have at it so you know I I think you know Jamie for me was the biggest winner of all you know getting movies huge thank you Netflix Thank you Chester house from Greenland. Thank you impossible dream for bring it to me thank you Tom for writing in Jamie Foxx I will forever owe a debt of gratitude and all we always be a good program because that was him showing up to do my movie was such a massive thing for me.
Alex Ferrari 42:28
Now with you know, a lot of second unit directors don't get the shot because a lot of them stay a second unit directors for their career. And like you said, I can have fun I can go out I'm working on big budgets I'm having this fun for fun. So when I saw that, you know when I went in and started to research it I was like oh this is his first shot like this is this is not a normal scenario because a lot of times actually second unit directors no action, but they have no idea how to deal with actors like on a on a watch McCall on like a dialogue state or how to carry character arcs and things like that. It's a little tougher to do that. But when I saw what you does, like man, I'm interested to see how he does and I was like man, he held it together man like the whole story was well put together. There's some beautiful easter eggs for someone of my my vintage to to grab on to some some loss boy lines. Well give it away. I was like, I was like nice. So some some nice little easter eggs along the way. But it was just it was just it was just well done. It was really well done. And I was telling you earlier before we get started with the color of it looks great that the the you could feel how hot it is. During you could feel like it Valley. And then that since I'm from the valley. I was just I was just like, I was from the valley. I was just like it up. Oh, they're deep in the valley over there. There. That's not Burbank. Nope, that's so it was fun. Oh, it's always fun for me when they shoot something in LA. They're like, yep, been there. Yep. I know where that is. Yeah.
J.J. Perry 44:00
So you know, Brother, listen, when I got out of the Army, it kind of was like that I moved to the valley first I lived in the back of a taekwondo school for a while and when I got made my first bit of money, I moved to the valley and you have to that's the trajectory I think you need to move to the valley to move down by the airport when you first get here and you don't have any money. Then you make your way over the hill which will be night shift part two will be in Hollywood or you know we'll be in Hollywood maybe next time. But that was the trajectory and one of the things that I remember about the valley when I first got there was being from Texas. It's hot and humid but the colors in the valley that orange and listing total disclosure, I am completely colorblind, the worst colorblind you can be but that orange for me really resonates in the opening of diehard when the plane lands, the orange sun, that setting when the plane lands. That's what I showed Toby Oliver, when I said I need your help with this because I want the interiors to feel cold like vampires would be there you can almost feel the breath. But when you're outside it should be hot and sticky and light Like the valley, you know what you hear? That's the water the water watering things are the you're gonna disturb the cicadas, you know you all of that, that I wanted to get bring that to the movie. So yeah, that was part of it for me and Toby Oliver is a gem. You know, when we shot the movie in 42 days with no second unit, which is a very short shoot for a movie of that size. And we didn't have a lot of time we shot 31 Days in Atlanta and 11 days in LA. So I was scared all my interiors in Atlanta and a few exteriors. So what I did in LA what all of my establishing shots of LA, I would do these big drone, handoffs, big drone shot showing the valley, then we'd have certain operator catch the drone, we hit a button, the drone would fly off, and then we follow our actors into wherever they were going. So I really close the valley because I wanted to, and I think the valley is hot, sweaty, sexy, cool, exotic, trippy, you know, you can smell the different flavors of food in the air, you can hear seven different languages being spoken, it was this mystical place when I moved there being from South Texas, you know, like the valley, you know, like what a trip. So that was part of it for me is to show how exotic the valley was. So there you go.
Alex Ferrari 46:13
So, you know, as a director, you know, and I'm sure you've had this happen on other projects as well. There's always that one day that the whole worlds come crashing down around you. You like oh my god, we're not going to make it. We're not going to make the day we're not going to make the shot. But something's going to happen. And it's generally every day we have every every day, there's a moment of that. But generally, on this project, was there one day that stands out that you're just like, I feel like security's gonna come and take me away.
J.J. Perry 46:39
No, no, but there's a moment I'll tell you. It's funny. So I was never afraid of the action at all ever. And my first ad His name is Bill Clark, I call him Wild Bill. He's Quentin Tarantino is first lady's dear friend, the scene where the vampires come to get. But in his wife, it's the very end of the movie when they they leave South and they take his wife and daughter. Bill comes to me the night before when we were wrapping up, he goes, you know, you got seven and a half pages of dialogue tomorrow. And I was a young girl. And I didn't know what that meant. You know, a lot of time he goes, Hey, Bubba, you got seven and a half pages of dialogue tomorrow. And I was like, Cool, great. He goes, he just kind of pulled me you know, he's like, Hey, so let's talk about this. So it didn't really dawn on me till about four o'clock in the afternoon, when I was better pay better attention to that. But you know, at the end of the day, we ended up getting that right, we had we had, you know, it's because the cast was so great. And everyone, no one went back to their trailers. Everybody hung out on set, we're playing music between setups, you know, everybody was having a good time, I wanted to keep the set light, like I keep my second unit light key there Metallica or Stevie Ray Vaughn, between setups or you know, dealer's choice to get a new DJ. And we had Jamie with his boombox. And we had, you know, taco truck here and there and coffee trucks. So it ended up working out all right. And it was my ignorance that saved me, because I wasn't afraid you don't you're not afraid of what you don't know until you know it right? Of course. And then it kind of worked out. And bill at the end of that day when Whoa, you said that was almost like having a baby. And I was like, Well, I can't speak on that yet. But I can tell you now I know what seven and a half pages mean. So
Alex Ferrari 48:18
Seven and a half pages is a lot of dialogue, man. I mean, unless you're doing unless you're doing master shot theater, then it's cool. You can knock that out in 30 minutes. But if you're doing what, you know, a normal setup, man, that's a lot of dials.
J.J. Perry 48:30
There were nine people in the room too. So there's a lot of coverage, you knows a lot of coverage. And also you had to not, we had to be careful not to shoot the mirror because the vampires are invisible in the mirrors. And I didn't have a huge visual effects budget on the movie. So I had to be very conscious of everything I was doing.
Alex Ferrari 48:45
Right? No, exactly. And how many cameras did you shoot with?
J.J. Perry 48:49
Generally, when we were doing all of it, when we were doing all the dialogue, always three cameras, I always run three cameras. And then when we were doing the car chase, I was running seven cameras, because we didn't I mean, it wasn't like I said it wasn't we didn't have a lot of time. And it wasn't a fast and furious budget or you know, a gray man budget. But it was it wasn't a little budget either. They were very generous with me. So I just because of second unit, I know how to budget my time really, really well. When it comes to action. I just know this is gonna work. This is gonna work. I gotta do this. Okay, so I can make a change here. We can not cut here and go here. I know how to I know how to run the table. I know how to play shoot that I knew how to clean the table to run that eight ball. But um,
Alex Ferrari 49:26
So what was the biggest challenge you had on this project? Since I mean, since it's your first full feature? You've done tons a second. What was the biggest
J.J. Perry 49:34
Hardest part for me was getting the opportunity to do it, bro. You know, to be honest, I was gonna have to do that, by the way. Well, you know, like when John and Yvette brought it to me, and we worked on it for a year I was doing Fast and Furious eight in London. Chad was in London with Keanu promoting John Wick three. Now I had shot the first sequence with the old lady as a stump is and I've done a vampire genogram different species and I don't use sizzle reels and a lookbook. So we're out partying at the Gaucho room with Keanu and Chad celebrating the release of their movie. John Wick three wasn't hanging out with him. In about four in the morning, Chad leans over and he goes, Hey, man, I'm probably going to get some sort of post first look, deal. Do you have anything? And I was like, funny you should mention that. I slid it you know, I didn't slide it across the table. But I texted I emailed it to him. And I knew he was flying back to LA the next day. And at 6am when he was in the car on the way to the Heathrow. I texted him, I said, Hey, give that thing a look while you're on the plane. He landed in LA and he by the time he landed, he calls me he's going to make this move. And literally, two weeks later, we're in meetings to make this movie and it was happening. So COVID Hit which put it on a hold. So the trajectory was shattered. But Yeates as Sean Reddick and Yvette Yates from posturing, give me the script. Get behind me. Tyler Tyson, I work on it for about a year together. Chance to house he sees it gets excited about it walks it in Netflix, or a mom or Taylor Z. Get excited about it about the package of Chad and this movie and myself. Jamie Foxx comes on board and it turns into like a holy shit, it's going to be massive. And here we are. It's all in the past. Now it's all in all behind us. So that's kind of the way it happened. And it happened really fast. We shot it really fast. I had the one of the best times I've ever had prepping and shooting the movie, the only place that I was not aware of was post production. Because 32 years of prepping movies and shooting movies. You never like I've been in the editing room a couple of times with directors cutting together because I always when I shoot second unit, I cut while I'm shooting and I deliver it. So I shoot a stump is for proofing proof of concept. Then when I'm shooting what I shoot, I shoot and cut the footage off of the TTI key and hand it to them and say proof of execution. You don't have to cut it this way you cut it any way you want to. But this was my version of your vision. And now it's locked in now it's done. If you want to give it to your editors, as a roadmap, do whatever you like, but here it is. So all that being said, prepping the movie shooting, it was such a PCK going into post production, I'd already cut all of the action while we were shooting. So theoretically, a third of the movie was cut already when we get to posts. So watching the whole process of post I learned so much in post about what I don't need to do. And I'll tell you like all those shots of the techno crane passing over the pool that follows the feet up and close to the door and a lens flare hidden from the sun. That 45 second shot. My cinematic my Kurosawa shots all gone dog. Oh, yep. So I learned so much about what I don't need to do that I would tell you confidently as a 54 year old budding filmmaker, that my sophomore effort will be infinitely better than my freshman efforts.
Alex Ferrari 53:03
Wow, that's such a man. It's so true. Because even look so it's so funny. They say that man because you've been in the biz man for you know, decades. At this point, you've shot so much work at the highest levels. And yet you fell into the same trap that first time directors fall into like, let's make this one shot here. And then we'll do the Goodfellas shot through the through the kitchen and all that stuff. And I remember Kurosawa, that Kubrick thing will do that. And it's and you you fall into that and you realize, when you get in the cutting room, like I said, it just stops the entire movie, you can't do that.
J.J. Perry 53:36
It went like this. So the action was cut. We watched the movie, for the first time, probably three, two and a half or three weeks in, we just put all the reels together. And the movie came in at two hours and 43 minutes. So I looked at it and I was like, Wow, alright, cool. So I want to listen, I never wanted anyone I was very conscious of this, because I'm always watching. I made this movie for our generation Gen X, but I also made it for the millennials and the Gen X Gen Y and Gen Z hence, but in Seth, counterparts that difference and I'll get into that in a minute remind me to talk to you about why that was inspired from but that was easy. It was easy for me because I didn't want my movie to feel long. I wanted it to be easy to watch because you listen I'm not gonna say any I'm not going to call any movies out. But there's a lot of movies now that I watch that are hard, like I love them but they get become like I'm sitting now I'm aware that they're fat, making dayshift for not for the small screen for being seven or 10 feet away from your big screen TV from your sofa. You're sitting four feet high. Looking at your screen. That's in my mind. That was the movie I was making. I was not shooting it for a theater because it was you know, Netflix is a small screen and but it's big screen ambitions on the small screen. So in saying that it was very easy for me. Once I cut that first part of my finger off, I let that long shot Go, it became easy for me to see it is just it 54 In all those years of experience comes in wisdom. Like, I know I have to, I have to sift some of this out. So I let it go quickly. You know, like, Listen, I'll be honest with you. It's not. It's not. It's not Shakespeare. And if you weren't Shakespeare, they wouldn't be hiring me, bro. They wouldn't hire a caveman like me. It has to be fast and fun. And something has to happen. And I don't want anyone to feel like okay, I'm waiting now and what's going on? I don't want them looking at their Instagram. So that was kind of the the full film filmmaking experience that I wanted to create is something that was scary, acne funny, and easy to watch.
Alex Ferrari 55:43
And it's exactly like that's not a movie that can be two hours and 45 minutes like that story. It's not that story. So it's just not but it's it needs to be fast and tight and quick, and you'd fun. And that's the kind of thing you know, you're not making Braveheart. You know, which is what you need three hours to tell that story. And it's it okay to do that. And honestly, I don't know if Braveheart gets made today. And that's no,
J.J. Perry 56:06
I'm a huge I used to double Mel Gibson strangely, and I'm a huge fan. I think he's one of the best filmmakers. Ah, alright, you know, like, listen, I used to be a stone Golem. Huge fan, bro.
Alex Ferrari 56:19
Apocalypto. Oh, god, it's brilliant film.
J.J. Perry 56:23
The 250 millimeter lens on my set is called the Mel Gibson because he always has a camera on a 250. And he always he told me goes, Hey, kid, you want to see what's going on in there? Put the 250 and reach in there and get them you can see what they're thinking, bro. So I always use that 250 But I couldn't get the Mel Gibson out guys when I was thinking that moment, you know, so? Yes, you're right. It's not and they probably will make a Braveheart but kudos to Mel for making it in.
Alex Ferrari 56:50
Yeah, when when they could. And you told me to ask you about the generational thing.
J.J. Perry 56:54
So yes, I'm on the road as a stunt coordinator, sacking director with all of these Apex stunt performers and stunt coordinators that work with me for the last we've done we've been on the road with the same guys for about eight or nine years at 711 stunts unlimited I hire within my team, Justin you, Troy Robinson, Mike Leia, my bros, but they're, except for Troy. Those other guys and females and girls that are in my group are all millennials and Gen X and Jim why like parkour champions world kung fu champion, car drifting champion trip motorcycle champion, but they're all kids. And I love them. But I don't know what the fuck they're talking about half the time, dude. And we all love each other and laugh at each other. But it's, it's that awkward thing that I wanted that I experienced on the road with my teammates that I love. And we spent time together and we hang out and watch him in May and go to the movies and do functions and stuff together and risk our lives together and make a bunch of dough together. But when I listen to them talk about things I'm like, fuck are they talking about? That's exactly what I wanted to portray that dynamic between blood and Seth in my movie. Like there's the generation that gets their knowledge from this. Right? They get their phone and it's Google. You and me. I'm 54 and we're probably eugenics.
Alex Ferrari 58:11
I'm not I'm not too far away from you, sir.
J.J. Perry 58:13
So you know, we were kids. If you wanted to learn something, you have to go there and learn it
Alex Ferrari 58:17
Until you library library photocopy when
J.J. Perry 58:21
I joined the Army, because I was a junior national taekwondo champion, so I could go boot get stationed in Korea, so I could fight the best in the world. So I committed four years of my life to the army just for taekwondo just so I could go there and fight and train. So I know the way the gym smells at chumps. Shil I know the way the gym smells in Thailand and lupini stadium, I know the way that Buddha con, the floor feels when you walk on it. Kids that learn on it on this, they don't know that they're getting the knowledge without actually earning it, which comes without the wisdom of learning. No, not knocking my younger brothers and sisters because I have a huge admiration for them. And we can learn a lot from them as well. But that for me the practical application versus the quicker knowledge is another thing that I wanted to portray in my movie.
Alex Ferrari 59:10
And if I if I can get up on my old man soapbox. The difference is that our generation is I call us the bridge generation. Because we were at a time when we understood pre internet, pre technology. I don't know about you. But I remember a time when there was no remotes. I was I was the remote from my grandfather. He's like get up and change the channel. And you would go like that stuff. I showed my daughters of rotary phone the other day and their minds just exploded. They just couldn't understand. And I go Yeah, and on. On the on the seventh number. If you mess it up, you got to start over. All these history, but so we know that part of of technology and history and society. But then we also were around when the internet was born. That's right. So, so we have feet and both both generous as opposed to like my daughters. They don't know anything different. You know, and the millennials they don't know a world without this kind of stuff. So it's a different different way of looking at
J.J. Perry 1:00:14
things the internet crashes we would go back to the Thomas guide in a hot minute, but they wouldn't maybe not no deal with that in coins for the for the phones, you remember. I remember the pager when I was a kid, a pager Well, church and the pastor said, Hey, you better get that it might be God page. And he told him, my mom, my grandma. Good Doctor, he must mean doctor.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:38
When is that? So when is Day Shift coming out man?
J.J. Perry 1:00:41
August 12. It drops we are. I'm super excited like all my other director friends that do this is the worst time for you because you don't know. And I was like, Pablo, for me not knowing is the bliss of not knowing. For me, it's awesome. Because I feel like I did everything I could to make it as good as I can. I had a great time doing it. I had a great partner and my cast and my shooting crew and my production producers and Netflix. I'm just super stoked to get it out there and let it let the ship sail and let's see how far it goes.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:09
And the thing I also love about what you're doing, man is like you just made your first feature, but you're still you're still hustling on an out there as a second unit and you're still working. You don't stop man, I saw your IMDB and you're like Nah, man. I'm keep. You're not like I'm a director now I only direct No, no, no, no.
J.J. Perry 1:01:24
I'm working as a stunt man next week, too. So this is how it goes for me brother. Just so you know, like, I learned all my lessons in life. I didn't go to college, I learned my lessons in life in the dojo in in the army. And my master said something to me when I was 11 years old. He said if you want to be a fighter, you have to go fight. Fighting is a perishable skill. Directing in my opinion, for me is a perishable skill. If you're not out there doing it all the time, you know, it's you're not reactive, or proactive, you become reactive, you got to be proactive, you got to be in front of the wave all the time. So I'm constantly just I just got back from doing a movie for Warner Brothers called Blue Beetle, did murder mystery to for Netflix getting ready to do back in action for Netflix. Like I'm just I want to keep myself directing action. And hopefully, my movie goes well, and they give they give this old cowboy another shot at the title baby. I'm ready. Ring the bell.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
Now, bro, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
J.J. Perry 1:02:21
Believe in yourself and be as good as you can be be the best version of yourself. Because when opportunity comes, you might not get another shot at it. It comes when it comes in, you can make your fate in certain ways. But you think like for my example, it took me 32 years to get a directing job. You know, so I was when my moment came, I was absolutely ready. I had a script that I loved and was passionate about. I knew what that set was going to smell like before I got there. And this is coming from a dyslexic colorblind guy that never went to college, you know. And so if you get the opportunity, you have to make the most of that opportunity. And don't take anything for granted and learn as much as you can about all the other departments.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:03
What did you What did you learn from your biggest failure?
J.J. Perry 1:03:08
Yeah, I've taken a bath a few times. You know, it's tough love, especially when you get out of the army. The army prepares you for certain things, but it doesn't necessarily prepare you for what to do when you get out always, especially in in the late 80s, early 90s. I got out in 1990. So it was hard for me to because I didn't know many people I didn't know anyone in LA except for one or two people. Like I slept on the floor of a karate school for a long time. You know, it was very, like, there was no room for error. Like if I didn't make money, I was definitely going to be back in the army. So, you know, but la strangely was, you know, a place at the time and even now I'm you know, I love this place. It's a trip, you know, but the weather in the place I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, you know, back in 1988 while I was driving to Fort Ord, you know, like when I drove through LA so that's probably the biggest lessons came from you know, like just learning how to apply the work ethic that I learned in the military and for martial arts in how to monetize that and make make it make me able to survive in the real world.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:06
Three of your favorite films of all time. Oh, whatever comes to mind, brother, but it won't be on your tombstone.
J.J. Perry 1:04:15
When police story and armor of God are tied is action grace you have to I have to mention Enter the Dragon Armor of God and police story so the Terminator and Rocky the first rock in the first Terminator because the first Terminator for me was the story was like I remember I remember sitting in the theater. It was in I was in downtown Houston. Yes probably stone with my buddies and we were like remember the first hang on I remember the first time when you saw Star Wars and when they went to hyperspeed remember that first love Yeah, sure, man. Yeah, yeah, that's it. So that was kind of Terminator for me and Rocky was such an inspiration as well, you know? So I would say I it's hard for me to say three but I would go please story. armor of God rocky Terminator. And yeah, any one of those three for me with those in you like for entertainment like we did it doesn't have action. But strangely, Forrest Gump was such a feel good movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:17
Movie. Yeah. Awesome. Now, one last question, man, because you you mentioned Terminator, you've gotten a chance to work with Jim.
J.J. Perry 1:05:25
I have him as well. I go to the gun range with him as well. Sometimes he she's so.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:32
So what is it like walking on the set of a Jim Cameron movie for the first time. And you're like, Dude, that's terminate, like, like, you have to Geek do geek out every once in a while. I mean, at this point, you've worked with so many. But that first time,
J.J. Perry 1:05:46
The first time I walked on the set prep, we did prep work on the first Avatar and while we when I went in at lunch, they were using this new that new technology where it was real time, Genesis, Garrett Warren, my friend was the stunt coordinator, Peter Jackson, and Steven Spielberg, were there with Jim. So it was like this triple geek out moment where, like, we you know, like, so Garrett walked in front of them. And I snapped a picture, just they were eating, and he didn't want to bother him. But he walked in front of them and stopped. And I clicked a picture for you know, you know, when Jim James Cameron is coming to work, you can hear the helicopter landing. That's when he shows up for work. That's how he comes to work from his place. He's a G Man, like, for me, that generation of filmmakers. Yeah, there's nothing to make the movies in camera, you know, and then went with the wave to technology, even Angley is another example that I've done a bunch with Angley. He's another one that's, you know, practical filmmaker that went all the way into checklist. All of those guys are epic. And if we've seen any fathers filmmakers, because we stood on the shoulders of giants like those men.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
Absolutely. No question. J.J man, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you and geeking out with you, brother. It is I hope, I hope somebody learns a little bit from our conversation here and there's a lot of gems in this woman, but congratulations on your success and your career on your new movie. And I hope man, I hope they give you the keys again, brother. I really look forward to see what else you do, man.
J.J. Perry 1:07:18
Thank you, brother. I appreciate you.
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