Today we're spending Seven Questions In Heaven with Hart Perez, one half of the Perez Brothers, two very talented music video directors.
Tell us about your directing career for our readers who may not be familiar with you.
Hello to everyone out there in the Twittersphere. We're the Perez Brothers and we're music video directors based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. For those of you who are not familiar with our work, which we're guessing is everyone (insert lolz here), we have recently worked with such San Francisco indie rock bands as The French Cassettes, Kapowski, Ash Reiter, and My Second Surprise. We strive for the bizarre and unusual in our films, which have included such crazy things as mermaids, robot butlers, ice-cream genies, and gun-wielding grizzly bears. If we can entertain a YouTube viewer for three-and-a-half minutes, then we've done our job. One writer once described our style as "suburban surrealism," so we'll just go with that.
Who are your influences and idols?
Hmmm... We might sound like total snobs on this one, but we'd have say Wes Anderson, as cliché and hipster as it may sound. His visual aesthetic (the cinematography of Bob Yeoman), art direction, and use of pop music is unmatched. I also really enjoy the screwball wit found in the films of Preston Sturges (Sullivan's Travels) and the slapstick comedy in Stephen Chow's films (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle).
Devon's two favorite directors (he's right here making sure I don't slander him too much, is it slander or libel?) are Tim Burton and Ridley Scott. Burton's gothic style has always captured our imaginations and Scott's ability to seamlessly transport his viewers from the Roman Coliseum to outer space has really set the bar in terms of creating cinematic landscapes.
We also both love the Daniels, they've done some amazing videos for Chromeo and the Shins, so they're probably one of our favorite music video directing pairs right now, along with Terrie Timely, who we have been lucky enough to have worked with on a couple of occasions.
Was there a moment or event that made you say, "That's what I want to do with my life?" If so, what was it?
For Devon, it was mostly definitely watching Tim Burton's Batman. We still probably quote that film on weekly basis, whispering phrases like, "Love that Joker," and occasionally yelling, "Where does he get those wonderful toys!"
For myself, I actually had a summer school teacher who would allow me to do short reports on films from the 1960s instead of my algebra homework. After seeing films like The Graduate (still probably my all time favorite), Easy Rider, and Cool Hand Luke, I knew that film studies and filmmaking would play a large part in my future. However, I think it took getting my M.A. in Film Theory to realize that I was better suited to work on sets instead of writing papers.
When you guys are doing your music videos, do you have a concept in mind first or do you let the song influence you?
Writing an original treatment is a huge part of our creative process. Every film we make is custom tailored to the song. We love getting the opinions of the songwriter, analyzing the lyrics, and then creating a film narrative that not only suits the meaning of the song, but also fits the tone of the music.
With that said, we do have journals and journals filled with pictures and plots that we use for inspiration. However, we haven’t shown those old Moleskins to anyone, they probably look like the clippings of a serial killer obsessed with video vixens and pugs. We love pugs, and just about every other small dog breed.
When most people think of directing, they probably think of it as a one-person job. How hard is it for the two of you to collaborate and give direction?
It's great actually. We feel that co-directing teams are becoming more and more commonplace in the film industry, which is great for us when negotiating with record labels. However, don't get to thinking that we're anything like the Cohen Brothers, those guys are geniuses; I think we would be more comparable to the Farrelly Brothers, maybe, on a good day.
Working as a team also allows us to be twice as productive. One of us usually focuses on working with actors and performances, while the other can work more closely with the cinematographer and gaffer to help with camera moves, framing, and lighting. Do you remember that old Nickelodeon cartoon CatDog? Yeah, something like that.
Are you hoping your music videos eventually open doors to television or movies?
Of course, we would be willing and open to any and all possibilities in the future. We love it all, from reality show trash like My Super Sweet 16 (guilty), to documentary features (the work of Werner Herzog and Terry Zwigoff), to big blockbusters. Ideally, it would be fantastic to work like Martin Scorsese or Spike Jonze who make documentaries and music videos between narrative features. By the way, did you see Spike Jonze's cameo in Moneyball? It was awesome. In fact that whole movie was awesome, did I mention that we're diehard Oakland A's fans? Maybe that had something to do with it.
What would be your dream directing gig?
Devon's dream project is a Napoleonic War epic. I think he originally wanted to do something involving World War I, but it looks like we are going to have give audiences a few years to forget about War Horse before we tackle that one. We kid, we kid, not really.
Hmmm... While I can't think of an ideal project off of the top of my head, I can admit that I've always wanted to score an entire film to The Strokes' album Impressions. So maybe we could make a Napoleonic War film where everyone is being bayoneted to the songs of the Strokes.
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