Writer/director/producer Eddie Alcazar is known for the documentary Tapia (2013), which he directed, and Kuso (2017), directed by Flying Lotus, which he was a producer on. Alcazar has directed a new science fiction film, Perfect, which he co-wrote with Ted Kupper. Perfect is executive-produced by Steven Soderbergh and Flying Lotus did the music for the film and has a small role in it.
The film follows a young man, known only as Vessel 13 (Garrett Wareing), who is sent to a mysterious treatment center by his mother after a violent incident. To rid him of his imperfections, his “treatment” consists of some grotesquely fascinating body horror which induces dark and terrifying visions. The preternatural style of Perfect, accompanied by breathtaking cinematography, bizarre visuals, and music by Flying Lotus, make this film quite a mind-bending experience.
Dread Central was excited to have the opportunity to speak with director Eddie Alcazar about Perfect, inspiration for the story, visual style, practical effects, and a lot more. Read on to find out what we talked about!
The exclusive VOD launch of Perfect will be on Breaker.io on June 21st. Breaker is offering free rental of Perfect for 30 days, beginning on June 21st with use of the code PERFECT.
Dread Central: I love how stylish Perfect is. The visuals are dazzling and some of the scenes look like a high fashion photo shoot. How did you and cinematographer Matthias Koenigswieser create the look of the film?
Eddie Alcazar: Matthias and I went to school together, so we’ve been working together for the last eight years. So, we have kind of like this shorthand way of communicating what we’re trying to do the most. And kind of like the easiest way is when he comes out with ideas, and we talk about the theme of the film and what will best showcase that. I felt like the whole concept of perfection, and that idea, was what drove the super stylistic kind of feel and look for the film. Because you know, it’s pretty much on the surface and that was really intentional, and the goal. What if we make this thing look like a commercial, like high-end, almost superficial type of film, but loaded with these higher concepts and depth.
Dread Central: I really enjoyed Garrett Wareing’s performance as Vessel 13. What inspired you to write this story?
Eddie Alcazar: There was barely a script for this film. Really, me and Ted Kupper, who pretty much was the writer who wrote the dialogue, and me and him came up with a story. We used a lot of our conversations to create a series of storyboards that really were the foundation for what you see and was my go-to every day on set, the actual treatment we had. So, we really just used the board, but I think a lot of the story was very clear in my head from our conversations and our meetings and our work on it, trying to figure out what to move forward with.
It was like a forty page treatment, but we actually started with something like ten pages that we wrote, which communicated, to an extent, where we try to get people to understand what we were doing, and also to help get some of the financing. But also, it’s good to plan around something that’s written for production, but as far as me and the creative aspect, I had it pretty much in my head, and tried to have my instinct drive a lot every day and not be held down too much. It was a lot of exploring.
Dread Central: I thought the body horror was shockingly effective and fascinating. Can you tell me about how you designed those effects?
Eddie Alcazar: My background is in visual effects, so I was able to really do a bit myself, but also, I have a lot of friends from different parts of the industry from practical effects to visual effects. I’m not sure which ones really stood out to you, but Dominic Hailstone did the transformation towards the end. He spent a lot of time on it. He worked on Chris Cunningham’s videos, so he’s amazing at what he does. We had conversations about what we wanted to do and how he could really utilize his skills in the best way. From that conversation came a lot of connections into the film.
And then, I just kind of let him go off. He spent three months just working on a few shots, so he’s a big part of it. And Vincent Van Dyke, who leads one of the bigger practical effects houses here in L.A., did a lot of the prosthetics. And yeah, we worked with a few talented folks who really did the majority of the film. We had a small crew, but everybody was really the best and in the position of handling a lot of work themselves. It was a lot of combinations of practical and visual effects. I like to have a base of practical and then clean it up, if needed, but it’s always good to have a foundation to make it the best it could be.
Dread Central: I know that Flying Lotus did the music for the film and appears in it. He’s such a visionary artist. What was it like working with him?
Eddie Alcazar: This is probably our third project that we’ve worked on together. When we first collaborated, it was a short film that I directed that went to Sundance Film Festival and from that there was a lot of momentum that was built and we just kept on wanting to work together and created a company, Brainfeeder Films, and we just kept on wanting to build more stuff within the same kind of world. So, then he directed a feature that I produced for him and then there was Perfect. So, by now it’s kind of like the same thing I mentioned with my cinematographer. We kind of have such a shorthand where he already knows what’s in my brain, for the most part, after a couple of conversations and then it’s really like letting him go off.
I really love collaborating with people in that sense where it’s not really trying to control everything that they’re doing, but really just watching them flourish within some of the parameters that I’ve set for the story and film. If they’re into it, then they can just keep on doing what they naturally do. It’s the same with Flying Lotus. He felt honed in on what I was looking for, even though it is a little bit different than his normal kind of direction with what he does with his personal music. I think we’re just out here trying different things and experimenting.
Dread Central: Perfect suggests that Vessel 13 in his basic human form was imperfect, and the best way to achieve perfection was offering artificial enhancements to obtain ultimate perfection. Are you suggesting that the only way to obtain perfection is through artificial intelligence?
Eddie Alcazar: I think that’s what we’re sold almost every day of our lives, is the idea of this could make you better and that whatever can enhance this part of your body or your mind. So, I think that’s normally the kind of world we’re living in, but again not to give away too much, that has a side effect and that’s what’s revealed at the very end of the film. It’s kind of like, all of that led to a place where it just kind of destroyed a lot at the same time. So, I think people should be cautious about easy things to better yourself, because they can also have a side effect or opposite conclusion.
Dread Central: What are you working on now?
Eddie Alcazar: I’m working on a stop motion film right now, so that’s been my crazy world for the last few months. It’s a very slow process, but it’s amazing how it’s coming out. I’m working on that and then I have kind of another science fiction, like a bigger thing, so hopefully we’ll see what happens there. It’s about multi-dimensional traveling, but it’s a tricky one.