According to acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, “Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks” and this quote applies to writer/director James M. Perry. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Perry “was raised by a single mother in Annapolis where he spent most of his childhood years living in multiple cities throughout Maryland. Surrounded by various adversities, he overcame the odds and produced his first music video at sixteen. The self taught Perry soon turned to the creative world of filmmaking.” Some of Perry’s previous work includes Dancing with Skeletons, Stiletto Dreams, and Disillusion with Nicolette Sheridan & David Kenneth Sommerville.
Check out my interview with James M. Perry where he discusses his current projects, what’s next for him, who his favorite filmmaker is, and more below, as well as a reel of his projects after.
1-Growing up, did you always know that you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Not at all. I always loved film and would shoot videos for fun but I never thought about pursuing it as a career. I was always a fan and student of cinema thanks to my music teacher. She always had us watching The Westside Story and other classic films.
2-Who’s your favorite filmmaker?
Stanley Kubrick. Its many more filmmakers but they all have been influenced by Kubrick’s work.
3-One of your first projects was Disillusion. How did you come up with the premise?
My ideals normally come from real events. It’s just my imagination that begins to run wild as I’m telling the story. I brought the script to my friend actor David Kenneth Sommerville. He read the rough draft and loved it. Originally, the character of Marcus did not have any dialogue because we didn’t have an actor. We then expanded the script together and we partnered to bring this project to light. Later, I told my friend, Jared Noe, about the project and sent him the script. He does a lot of cinematography and film production work from here to overseas. He loved the idea. We still didn’t have a lead actress. The more we wrote, the more complex the character became and made it even harder to find a lead actress.
Fast forward, I was invited to one of his film shoots, Love Cycle: Beautiful Mistake by Devin J. Ricks. That same day, I met the lovely Nicolette Ellis. We said “That’s our Rachel.” We told her about the project and sent her the script. She loved it then agreed. We had legendary acting coach Melvin Williams on board—I learned a lot as a writer and director from being around him. The stars are aligned and now we were on the road to start production. Everything we handpicked from wardrobe to the type of steak Rachel is eating on camera. I’m a little “nutty” about details. The funny thing about Disillusion is that on surface, the film is about revenge and guilt. But under the surface, the film is about power, sex and role reversal of relationships. Now, if viewers watch it again, they may even change their perspective on the climax of the film.
4-One of your recent projects, Feels like Euphoria, has already been an official selection for two festivals. How does that make you feel as the creator/filmmaker?
It’s feels great—another foot in the right direction. It’s more motivation. I love the feeling of screening a project. I’m nervous but I need that feeling. I need it to continue from here to Clermont-Ferrand international, to the Festival de Cannes.
5-What do you hope the audience will get from watching Feels like Euphoria?
Just different perspectives on love, disillusionment, and trust in relationships. It doesn’t matter what race or sex you are with, that person will be that person on the inside.
6-Besides Feels like Euphoria, you also have The Hour Glass. What can fans expect from this film?
Cocaine, nudity, blood and a lot of curse words. I’m joking but that is in it. But as far on what to expect, expect fearless content. Expect more complex characters, personally, fearless performances from great actors and imagination. The Hour Glass follows former child star Toni Brooks who had a promising career after starring in a short lived TV sitcom. We follow her struggles with addiction, relationships and finding self worth. We also have great supporting characters that have their own story that still compliments the main narrative.
7-Out of all your projects, which is your favorite?
Most would say their first or their latest but I say Feels like Euphoria because I feel like this is when I found myself, not just as a writer/director but as an artist.
8-What is your dream film to make?
A few of my actors alone, Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Idris Elba. I want to do a film based around the 1904 Great Fire of Baltimore. It would be a way to touch on history, my hometown and an overall great narrative.
9-What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into filmmaking?
Stay on your path, stay consistent. Remember the person that you are chasing is the greatest version of yourself.
10-What is NEXT for James M. Perry?
More festivals and Sophia in 2018, my first feature film as writer and director.
Photo Credit: James M. Perry