Interview: Local director Rob Perez

Perez, who wrote 2002’s “40 Days and 40 Nights,” is premiering his directorial debut, “nobody,” at the State Theatre next week.

PHOTO COURTESY ROB PEREZ

PHOTO COURTESY ROB PEREZ

Jay Boller

WHAT: âÄúnobodyâÄù world premiere WHERE: State Theatre, 824 Hennepin Ave. WHEN: Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. TICKETS: $16.50 âÄî $26.50 The greatest thing about Minneapolis is how weâÄôre not L.A. WeâÄôve got Garrison Keillor âÄî not Lindsay Lohan (though theyâÄôve worked together). WeâÄôve got The Replacements âÄî not Guns NâÄô Roses (though Tommy Stinson eventually joined the latter). WeâÄôve got the Coen Brothers âÄì not Michael Bay (still waiting on that collaboration). One thing we donâÄôt have, though, is movie premiers. But next week, with adoptive son Rob PerezâÄôs directorial debut âÄúnobody,âÄù we will. Perez, 36, who penned the 2002 Josh Hartnett vehicle âÄú40 Days and 40 Nights,âÄù co-wrote and directed âÄúnobody,âÄù the story of an art school twenty-something trying his damnedest to find out who he really is. Not a novel concept, but if the trailer is any indication, itâÄôs set to be an enjoyable, fresh take on the quarter-life crisis. Native St. Paulite Hartnett is attached as executive producer and Guster frontman Ryan Miller co-wrote the film on top of handling the score. All said, thereâÄôs going to be a red carpet on our humble Midwestern soil come âÄúnobodyâÄôsâÄù premiere. The affable and sharp Rob Perez was nice enough to chat with A&E about âÄúnobodyâÄù in the midst of what must be a crazy week for him. Many a topic was covered, including âÄú40 DaysâÄôâÄù infamous flower orgasm scene. Sadly, space didnâÄôt permit that doozey of a question, but below is the rest of the conversation that spanned the spectrum from Hanson to goats. Pretend IâÄôm a producer; pitch âÄúnobodyâÄù to me. Wow, I just left Hollywood and this is the first one, huh? âÄúnobodyâÄôsâÄù about an artist looking for inspiration. And itâÄôs a comedy about finding your own identity. And thatâÄôs it, thatâÄôs the two lines. So finding an identity is the central message? IâÄôd say itâÄôs OK to not know what your identity is. The important thing is to be looking, trying, swinging the bat. In a broad sense, whatâÄôs funny to you? Wow, how to begin âĦ âÄúThe Three Amigos!âÄù is funny; âÄúAnimal HouseâÄù is funny. Buster Keaton is funny; Peter Sellers is funny. Pretty much everything the Marx Brothers have even written is funny. I donâÄôt know, funny must be like falling in love âÄî you know it when you see it. John Hughes is funny; IâÄôll throw him on the list. What was the best part and the hardest part about making âÄúnobody?âÄù The hardest part is everything. ThereâÄôs an old Billy Wilder quote which is they finished the script and theyâÄôre like, âÄúAh, now weâÄôre done with the hard part. Now comes the hard part.âÄù ThatâÄôs for sure how making âÄúnobodyâÄù felt. Writing the script was the hardest part, raising the money was the hardest part, hiring the right people was the hardest part, not dying during production was the hardest part. Post-production, we put it together and you market test it, some people love it and some people are like, âÄúIâÄôm confused!âÄù Fixing it, making it better, tweaking âÄî thatâÄôs the hardest part. And now, marketing it is the hardest part. Think of me as the one-man musician on Venice Blvd. HeâÄôs playing the drum, the trumpet and heâÄôs got the harmonica. ItâÄôs like, I do everything and somehow it doesnâÄôt sound like a mess; thatâÄôs a triumph. Whether you like the movie or not, the fact it makes any sense whatsoever is a triumph. WhatâÄôs it like to shoot in Minneapolis? The taxes suck, and thatâÄôs why nobody shoots here. The advantages are this is a great looking city, man. We just screened the Blu-ray and itâÄôs like âÄî thatâÄôs gorgeous. So every movie, whether itâÄôs âÄúJuno,âÄù or most recently âÄúNew in Town ,âÄù that are set here are not shot here because of the taxes. So a fresh image is the biggest advantage. Are you concerned about being lumped in with other âÄúquirky indie comedies with the indie music soundtrack?âÄù Our soundtrack is so good, no way man. IâÄôm not; IâÄôm not at all. Is that a slam, to be lumped in with that? IâÄôm not saying it is. ItâÄôs just so over-saturated at this point. Like what, whatâÄôs your example of that? IâÄôd say âÄúJunoâÄù is maybe the prime example. I really like their soundtrack. I like indie music; IâÄôm not slamming indie music. IâÄôm just saying, thatâÄôs kind of been the mold recently. If people can find new music through a movie, thatâÄôs great. And if people can find a movie through music, thatâÄôs great too. Maybe you donâÄôt know The Fruit Bats , maybe you donâÄôt know Coconut Records , or maybe you donâÄôt know The Silver Seas (theyâÄôre one of my favorite bands); we used two of their songs in there. I mean, thatâÄôs awesome. I just introduced you to some bands that are super cool. ItâÄôs a challenge, but also a cool challenge. It helps us keep the movie in the right world. But like, I canâÄôt afford an Arcade Fire song. I canâÄôt afford a U2 song. So I gotta go deep. We gotta work for it. By the way, we did dig deep and we got ourselves a Hanson song. I saw that, the live version of âÄúMMMBop .âÄù Where did you factor that song in? ItâÄôs all about context with âÄúMMMBop.âÄù It pretty much runs through the whole movie; itâÄôs one long repeat. No, âÄúMMMBopâÄù is in the goth scene. We needed the opposite of dark and âÄúMMMBopâÄù makes me smile. What influences you as a filmmaker? John Hughes is probably my biggest influence. And getting it right, telling a story that makes sense. And, oh, by the way, I hope itâÄôs funny. But, if you donâÄôt think itâÄôs funny, hopefully thereâÄôs a story going. If youâÄôre connected to the central idea of this story, youâÄôre going to keep watching. You wanna know how it ends; you wanna know what the solution is. YouâÄôre getting something; youâÄôre getting a real story. And that story, thatâÄôs nourishing. IâÄôm trying to make you leave the theater feeling a little bit better. Critics were really mixed on âÄú40 Days and 40 Nights.âÄù WhatâÄôs your lasting impression on that whole experience? IâÄôm super proud of that movie. Comedies are never for critics, especially audience comedies. This will be another comedy where critics will be, to put it generously, mixed. I donâÄôt care. Think about who these critics are. TheyâÄôre 50-year-old white guys, OK? Did I make a movie for a 50-year-old white guy? No, I made a movie for 20-year-olds who like sexy things. I honestly donâÄôt care about critics; I care about my audience. Tell me about the premiere. ItâÄôs been ten years since thereâÄôs been a world premiere here âÄì I think the last one was, like, âÄúYoung Blood .âÄù This is gonna be red carpet, celebrities, the principal cast. I may even bring a goat, because thereâÄôs a goat in the movie. This city deserves it, and IâÄôm psyched to do it here. So IâÄôm psyched to, sort of, give this to the city. We also can charge $100 tickets, but weâÄôre not doing that. Tickets are $15, because I donâÄôt want people who can only afford $100 tickets, I want students. ThatâÄôs the price of a movie ticket and a half for this whole event. IâÄôm excited that itâÄôs going to be filled up with really young faces. You guys are super important to me.