For Perfect, director Eddie Alcazar takes on the never-ending pressures that humanity faces in its constant pursuit of perfection, as we follow a troubled young man (Garrett Wareing) who is sent to a mysterious clinic to help him deal with his issues, but he ends up having to confront more than just his own dark impulses.
Perfect arrives in theaters in New York this weekend, Los Angeles on the 24th, and then will be receiving a VOD release on June 21st, and in anticipation of its theatrical debut, Daily Dead recently spoke with Alcazar, who discussed how the story and project came together for Perfect, the collaborative process with both Wareing and composer Flying Lotus, and more.
There are a lot of aspects to this film, and while your approach is futuristic, there’s an underlying part of this story that feels very relatable to today, where people are striving for perfection, that we demand perfection, almost in everything from everyone. I'd love if we could discuss the genesis of this story and these concepts that you're exploring here.
Eddie Alcazar: Yeah, I think as far as the first concepts, or the idea that I had in my head to drive everything forward, was just the image of this really disgusting, disfigured creature. But, when you look at him closer, you understand that he has such a beautiful mind. And inside his head, he's actually living the most content and amazing life. So, I had that just in my head, "What if this creature that on the exterior looks horrible, but on the inside he's such a beautiful being?" And that’s where it all started.
Then I had to figure out just how do I get to that point? So, that kept on leading me to different ideas and pretty much the reverse of that, which is what we start the film with, where you've got this beautiful kid, but he's plagued with these horrible thoughts and visions. On the inside, he is really in a horrible place. So, pretty much then I had a beginning and an end and an in-between.
Then, I just threw in a lot of philosophical ideas and concepts that I was researching, and thinking a lot about that pursuit of perfection. And, like you said, you hear it everywhere nowadays, with all these ads about bettering yourself and different advertisements that give you this weird false concept of perfection that's being sold to everyone.
I had been looking into your career, and I realized that this is your first feature as a director, which is insanely ambitious. I know you've had some experiences writing and producing and working in the industry for a while, though. Can you talk about making that transition to feature filmmaker, and how your prior experiences helped prepare you?
Eddie Alcazar: Yeah, it definitely was tough, but I think having the right team and cast and crew was essential. We were all motivated by the same vision. We started from a very small group of people and it just kept on building throughout the entire process, with like-minded people that lent a lot of ideas and a lot of themselves to the creating of the film.
As far as with me, I think having my visual effects background really helped with the fundamentals and the basics of the technical aspects and understanding and how all these elements work. I didn't really worry too much about getting all that stuff in order. But really, what was different from dealing with visual effects, is the collaboration side of things, where you are dealing with so many people every day. Some people thrive on that, and I feel like that was the motivating factor for me, having a base idea and then talking to people and then adding to that. When you focus on the discovery aspects of storytelling, and just allow yourself to become part of the process, that's when I think you can really make some amazing stuff as a director, which is what I was trying to do here.
So much of this movie obviously rides on the shoulders of Garrett, because there's a lot of it that's internalized and it's this very intimate journey that he's on. How was it working with him and building this journey for his character?
Eddie Alcazar: He was great, and a lot of this stuff you see in the film was pretty much crafted for him after I met with him. I had been talking to a few different actors and I know it would have been a completely different film if it was somebody else in this role, for sure. He motivated a lot of the ideas in that specific direction for how the film turned out, and he's really such a hard worker. And I think from that work ethic came all this other stuff that we were able to do, because we were working with a very low budget and had this short schedule, too. It was pretty difficult in that sense, but when you have someone that is really, really committed to the project through the entire thing, I think that shows for itself and can elevate the story you’re trying to tell.
I know that you have a working relationship with Flying Lotus, as you guys did Kuso together previously. Can you talk about the collaborative process with him on this film in terms of the score elements? I do think he's one of the most interesting musicians out there working, and it was fun to see him pop up in this, too, if I'm not mistaken.
Eddie Alcazar: Yeah, you see him at the beginning at the clinic entrance. We decided to start working together with the intention of doing unique, small experimental films. We were mainly driven by the fact that it was just difficult to create a somewhat pure vision when you have bigger budgets and are dealing with the more conventional Hollywood system of getting financing. You get a lot of cooks in the kitchen that way, which we feel interrupts a director’s vision.
So, we have been trying to figure out how we could get our films off the ground, even if they were low budget. We knew we had a lot of people around us, as far as talent, that would be into it, as long as we didn't take up too much of their time. So, we kind of went on that path. On Kuso, I experienced firsthand how amazing he is at music, and his beautiful sounds, and his talent for marrying visuals with music. And that helps me a lot, because probably my weakest point is dealing with the audio side of things. With Perfect, we had some initial conversations, but I just let him go wild and run with it. He knew the parameters, but for the most part, I just let him do what he does best, and I think the results are fantastic.