An Interview with Scott W. Perry – By Brian Morton

I’ve had the chance to see two of Scott Perry’s three short films now, Insatiable and Something Just.  Scott seems to be a filmmaker who wants to keep his style fresh and keep doing different types of movies…something that a lot of younger filmmakers should take note of! Well, Scott’s latest, Something Just, is such a great short that I couldn’t help but wonder why Scott didn’t make it into a feature…so, instead of just dying of curiosity, I got in touch with Scott and asked him, and, as long as I was taking up his precious time, I got him to answer a few more questions as well!

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BM – How did you get started in filmmaking?

SP – I’ve just always liked movies. Growing up, it was a terrific escape, particularly horror movies. Being a kid growing up in the slasher era was very interesting. My parents rented Tom Savini’s Scream Greats so I wouldn’t get scared at Friday The 13th and I focused on how the special effects were done instead of being scared by the movie. I didn’t take it seriously until college, where I taught myself screenwriting by reading many books on the craft in addition to buying or downloading the scripts of my favorite movies to study them. When a drama I had written was well received on a screenwriting website, it drove the confidence I needed to continue to pursue this. In 2005, after a few personal setbacks, I realized that the best way to pursue filmmaking was to do it myself. While I had features written, I wrote many short scripts to get started and launched Slick Devil Entertainment. It’s been a long and meticulous process, but an extremely fun one.

BM – How did you get the idea for Something Just?

SP – Something Just was first written five years ago, in fact it was written before my previous short film Insatiable. I remember watching the news one day and there was a report on a 7 year old girl who was murdered by a man who had been convicted (and released) on molestation charges twice. Why he got parole was beyond me and it was a preventable death. I’m not a spiritual person, nor a religious one by nature, but I remember discussing this tragedy with my mother and she wondered why God would allow such a thing to happen. From that, I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if someone did listen, and did something about it. It’s sad that crimes like these are common occurrence and I just wanted to do a different spin on such a disturbing topic.

BM – Well, it’s an amazing and effective short. Were there any thoughts of making it a feature, instead of a short?

SP – No, Something Just was always envisioned as a short film. It was written as such and I don’t know how it would evolve into a feature. It’s funny because as I’m answering this some ideas are forming in my head. The key in making a film is that regardless of the length of the film, the three act structure must still fall into place. In the case of Something Just, the first act is the establishment of Thomas as a killer, the second act is Michael’s admission that he needs Mr. Grimm’s help to stop Thomas as he stalks young Kevin, and the final act is the resolution that I hope nobody sees coming. Short films can be just as powerful as a feature if done correctly and I’m not afraid to say that Something Just is an example of that.

BM – Well, I’ll say it, it’s just as powerful and any feature I’ve seen! It seems like every movie you do takes you in a different direction, any thoughts on revisiting anything you’ve already done?

SP – No because every project is a learning experience, and when it’s done you leave the film up for interpretation. I’ve received many different responses to the films I have done. It doesn’t make it right or wrong. If that’s what the viewer sees, then it’s great. I like to think that whatever the next project will be is the best one. I came into Something Just with much more confidence than I did when I filmed Insatiable. It has to be if you want to keep doing this as a career. If you accept anything else, you’re not in it for the right reasons.

BM – Since you write, direct, produce…pretty much do it all, what’s your favorite part of the filmmaking process?

SP – My personal favorite part of the process is when the film is complete and has been screened to an audience. They’re all vastly different. I’m most comfortable in writing because it’s where it all begins. You create these characters, these situations, and these settings and give them life on paper. I’ve only produced and directed scripts I’ve written so I can’t fully answer that question. I’d love to produce and direct something that didn’t come from my mind and see how much I enjoy it. On the other hand, I’d love to see someone else direct a script that I’ve written, and produce a script I’ve written and put it in the hands of another director. There is an excitement being on set and watching the script come alive. Just seeing a good group of people work so hard on something you created brings a good feeling. To play Devil’s advocate, the least favorite part is when something doesn’t work out to your liking and you have to make a tough business decision to move on. You want to do everything right and be on everyone’s good side, but sometimes decisions have to be made that can affect not only business relationships, but personal ones as well. It’s unavoidable sometimes and you just have to accept the fact that it will happen. I have had to make that decision but I’ve also been the recipient of being removed from a project when all I did was the job asked of me, so I know both sides of it. However, I understand why it has to be done.

BM – So far, your movies have been shorts, any plans on a feature?

SP – Oh of course. Right now I’m in the process of getting a couple together that I hope to make in the near future, as soon as next year. One I’m particularly excited about is a concept that I’ve never seen before, a fantasy/drama called The Vintage about the relationship between a movie theater owner and the spirit of a long dead actress inside an old style movie theater that only plays classic movies (and mainly classic horror movies). I am looking to raise funds for the film in the hopes of shooting it by this time next year. I have a vampire feature called Scorn that we just did a reading for (and went well). It’s real bloody, balls to the wall horror here and the vampires don’t walk during the day. Those I think are the most ready but there are other scripts. There’s a haunted house idea I would love to do that just surfaced recently. There was a drama script I wrote in 2002 that actually was optioned that I’m going to rewrite in the hopes of making it as a film. It’s a deeply personal film that I would love to make. The problem with writing so many scripts is that week by week I change my mind on which one I want to work on. I know it drives my colleagues completely nuts.

BM – Your site, http://www.colonelscrypt.com, is a celebration of indie movies. Is being a fan and a filmmaker sometimes a difficult line to straddle?

SP – Well you have to remember that the primary reason why people break into filmmaking is because they are fans. There is a love for the art that is always there. If an A-list actor takes a pay cut to be in a film, I will guarantee you that the reason they did is because they are a fan of the script or a fan of another actor or director involved with the project. Before he became a filmmaker, John Carpenter ran a film newsletter before he made Dark Star and launched his film career. Bruce Campbell draws that line perfectly in how he deals with his fans. There is an interesting line to be drawn there. Where I think http://www.colonelscrypt.com differs from some other sites is that while, yes, I am a fan, I try not to present it in the tone of the fan boy, where you obsess about every little detail of a film and if you don’t like it, you bash it. Just because a film is a remake or is rated PG-13, doesn’t necessarily mean it can suck, and it drives me off the wall sometimes, especially in the horror genre. I try not to follow the hype box and don’t order people to like a movie or else. I just let the filmmakers themselves talk about their films and let the audience decide for themselves. I view http://www.colonelscrypt.com as my own personal film school. There has been so much I have learned from all of the interviews I’ve done that I’ve applied into the films I have made since and the scripts I have written as well. In retrospect to your question, it’s good to be a fan but when I’m doing interviews, my primary job is to the best interview I can and hope it goes well. We’re all fans.

BM – If you could make a movie with an unlimited budget and any cast you wanted, who would you want to work with and what kind of movie would you make?

SP – I would remake Transformers with Jerry Murdock as the voice of Optimus Prime.

BM – What advice would you give someone who was thinking about making a movie but hadn’t started yet?

SP – The only person who is going to make things happen for you is you. In today’s technological age, as long as you have the passion, and the idea, don’t let it stop you. If you are waiting for someone to hand you millions of dollars to make the film you want, lay off the drugs too. There’s really no excuse now. Go out there and make a film. I decided to do Unadulterated the day I got laid off from my job. I looked at my co-workers, got my severance check, and I said “I’m going to make a film with this money.” And my co-workers became my crew! If that didn’t happen, I probably wouldn’t be doing this interview right now. I’m broke. I’m in debt. I’ve made mistakes but I took the risk in the situation I am in to do something about it. I don’t like hearing the excuse “But I have a full time job!” You spend 40 hours a week at your job, 8 hours a day, add an hour of travel, and add 6-8 hours of sleep. That’s 15-17 hours a day, which means you have 7-9 hours to do whatever the hell you want. If you want to spend those 7-9 whining about how the 8 you spent at work sucked, be my guest. If you want to spend it writing or doing something you love, you’ll end up much better as a result of it. I work a full time job and I spend my extra time either setting up interviews or going to screenings for http://www.colonelscrypt.com, writing, or prepping the next film. The other thing is if you are directing a film for the first time, get an experienced crew and LISTEN to them. Everyone is there for the same reason you are, to make the best film possible.

BM – That’s great advice! What are you working on next?

SP – I just finished work on a short film that I shot and edited called Counting On My Fingers for director Constance George and producer Frank Verderame. It is a Twilight Zone type fantasy/drama about a woman who takes her daughter to a place where you learn the day you die. It is based off of a play so filming it was a challenge but overall I am very happy with it. The film will be released next year. There’s a short, experimental project that Jeremiah Kipp and I have talked about doing that we’re hoping to make soon. We’ll just see where the future goes from here. The ride’s been fun thus far. I don’t want it to stop.

BM – Thanks for taking the time Scott, and I can’t wait to see Counting On My Fingers!

SP – Thank you.

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Scott is one of the hardest working guys in indie film, and his work shows his passion and his talent! If you want to check out Scott’s latest movie, Something Just, you can head over to http://vimeo.com/15300069, and check it out, it’s well worth you’re time…and it’s free! And, you can always joins Scott’s “film school” by reading is great interviews over at http://www.colonelscrypt.com. Speaking for all of us here at Rogue Cinema, we wish Scott the best of luck and can’t wait to see what else he’ll be up to in the future!