ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Day Shift director J. J. Perry about his journey towards becoming a director and his 80s-influenced style. Day Shift is set to release through Netflix on August 12.

“A hardworking dad out to provide for his daughter uses a boring pool-cleaning job as a front for his real gig: hunting and killing vampires,” reads the logline.

Tyler Treese: We’ve been seeing this great trend of stuntmen successfully transferring into directing. What are the biggest skills that you gained as a stunt coordinator that made this transition a successful one?

J. J. Perry: So the path went from getting out of the army [to] becoming a stuntman, from a stuntman to becoming a fight coordinator, and then becoming a stunt coordinator, then becoming a second unit director, and then becoming a director. Wen you’re directing second unit … I’ve been doing it for like 20 years now, second unit directing … big car chase, key sequences or big fight sequences is actually harder than directing some actors at a table. I mean, if you have good actors, it’s easy. If you have bad actors, maybe it’s hard. I don’t know yet, because I haven’t directed any bad actors. When you’re locking up a city and you have six cars and four motorcycles and helicopters and explosions, you have a finite amount of time to do the work. And you’re also under the pressure of not killing someone.

So it’s a pressure cooker. You’re working very fast, under very dangerous conditions, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. And I was having a great time doing that, like helping Chad [Stahelski, co-director of John Wick] out on John Wick 1 and John Wick 2, watching their trajectory, David [Leitch, co-director of John Wick] and Chad’s trajectory going up … they started calling me, and people started calling and sending me scripts. As soon as I got day shipped, I knew I had to do it, because my favorite movies from when I was growing up were Lost Boys, Big Trouble in Little China, Evil Dead, and the original Fright Night — action, comedy, horror. That’s where my heart was. I wanted to have all three of those ingredients. I love John Wick. We worked really hard, trained Keanu, got him as good as we could get him.

But you’re based in reality. Even though it’s not realistic that he could gun down how many people, but still, he’s a human being. There’s gravity and things that he cannot bend. As soon as you bring vampires in the mix, well, you’re reality plus 70%. Now I’ve got dramatic license on the action to do whatever I want, which only elevates things. So you have these two worlds that hide in plain sight, the vampires and the hunters union, colliding. Which, for me, was super interesting and fun. Right now, if you turn on the news, it’s dark, man. There’s monkeypox, and COVID, and Ukraine, and Russia, and Taiwan, and China. I just wanted to do something fun that you didn’t have to feel … you didn’t have to watch, or somebody was trying to force an opinion on you. I just wanted people to enjoy it. A little bit of escapism doesn’t hurt anybody, and a few laughs can only do the world good right now, my brother.

The action in this is so much fun. I even saw some pro wrestling moves thrown in there, which I thought was super cool.

Lucha Libre, bro!

Yeah! So what were your goals with the fight scenes and where did you kind of take the inspiration from?

Inspiration comes from everything that you’ve seen or done in your life. So inspiration from all the movies I’ve worked on … what I said to my action team that I’ve been on the road with for like seven years [was] “I don’t want to do anything that we’ve already done. I want to look for new ways to do things.” And if we ever say, “well, let’s just do the old way,” I said, “Then we failed and we die a small death.” The vampires needed to have an interesting look, so we brought contortionists and doubled them with stunt players, and doubled them with fighters. So something like, for example, the grandma. There’s the actress, there’s a stunt double, there’s a fight double, and there’s a contortion double, and the contortion work itself, when we slam them and fold them in half, we shot that in reverse.

They’re in half, then we pulled them out on a wire and we played it in reverse, but with a magic camera speed that I can’t disclose unless you give me a lot of money … there’s a secret there. So I wanted to change the way that vampires fought. So I mixed it with things like Lucha Libre, wire work … and they’re so bendy, it’s like fighting an octopus that’s trying to bite you. At the same time, throwing in some MMA moves, like a crucifix, right? You saw the mount, the switch. So I wanted to throw a few things in there that look familiar that people could relate to, but then throw it on its head and then try it over again. So yeah, I just wanted everybody to have their own style.

I thought having a big fight to “Body Count’s in the House” was awesome. How do you choose your music here? The soundtrack is great.

Thank you, brother. Well, listen, I’m a big fan of that era. I wanted the film to take place today, but feel like Bud is trapped in the 80s, kind of like I’m trapped in the 80s, look at my cowboy shirt … like I’m stuck in the 80s, dog! So I wanted him to be that, and I wanted the music to feel like that too. If you go in my car, it’s going to be old-school hip hop or Ozzy’s Boneyard. That’s what it is if you go on my radio right now. I wanted Bud to be as much like me as I could so when Jamie [Foxx, lead of Day Shift] asked me a question, I wouldn’t sound like an idiot giving him a stupid answer.

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