If you’ve ever worked with Corduroy Media, then you know that when the creative energy starts flowing, we can get a little…uh…excitable. And when you toss our buddies the Perez Bros into the mix, things are bound to get downright cuckoo around here.
Devon and Hart Perez are two of the funniest guys we know. Not only can we count on them for incredible lighting and grip work, but like other people we work with (for instance, our Lead Editor Crescent Diamond and Director Brandon Mason), they’re also involved in their own creative projects.
As a San Francisco video production company, Corduroy Media works with a lot of really incredible people, and we consider ourselves particularly fortunate to work with the Perez Bros. Honestly, when we say we were pumped last year to collaborate with them on the short film, “Universal Gentrification,” it’s kind of an understatement.
The Perez Bros make thought-provoking short films that sometimes push boundaries and cause us to simultaneously laugh and wonder if we should be laughing at all. Raised on the Wayans Brothers and the Farrelly Brothers, Hart Perez, 31, says he and younger brother Devon, 29, developed a sensibility that “walks the line of what’s socially acceptable.” (Remember Ben Stiller’s hair gel scene in There’s Something About Mary? Yeah, kinda like that.) The Perez Bros have found short films to be a “fun and dangerous medium” through which to express themselves.
As “borderline” as some of the Perez Bros work may seem, though, Hart says that’s not the half of it.
“Some of our videos are outrageous,” he says, “but the ones we haven’t made are twice as outrageous.”
Below, Hart Perez talks about how “Universal Gentrification” came about, compares Bay Area gentrifiers to Russian stacking dolls, and explains the complexities of gibberish.
How did you and Devon get started creating short films?
After broadcasting school, we started doing music videos. We had a lot of fun doing them, but with any collaborative project, you have to make some concessions. We had our ideas and bands and labels would have their ideas. At the end of the day, there were some compromises that had to be made, which was fine, but we also wanted to explore different venues where we could just be true to our own creative voice and not have to worry about the band image or the label’s concern for sales. A lot of our short films were ideas we had for the narrative behind music videos.
Ok, so how did Universal Gentrification come about?
We started off strictly doing lighting work. Corduroy Media was one of the first companies to recognize both our lighting work and our creativity. They wanted to do something that had some social commentary and was comedic. At the time, they were doing more documentary style and they wanted to do something narrative based. And because Sean and Carl have a social activist mindset and sense of community, they wanted to do something that reflected the Bay Area community. So they brought us in to collaborate and asked us to write something.
Being from the Bay Area ourselves, Devon and I have kind of witnessed wave after wave of dotcom booms and busts, people coming in and coming out. There were so many waves of gentrification. The gentrifiers were calling other gentrifiers gentrifiers. The hipsters were complaining about the tech and the tech was complaining about whatever, and it was just kind of this Russian stacking doll of social change. We wanted to tap into that, so we wrote “Universal Gentrification” with Carl and Sean.
Were there any challenges along the way to creating that particular film?
One of the biggest challenges on set was the fact that the whole piece is a one-take video. So, if you watch it, all the characters are coming in and pushing the other characters aside. It was the challenge of rehearsing everything and making sure that all of the performances were the best they could be because we couldn’t stitch them together the way you could with a more traditional film.
Then, in post-production, the alien only has a few lines of dialogue, but it was really challenging for us to invent an alien language. Honestly, we didn’t even invent a language—it’s just gibberish. But the challenge was how to say gibberish that doesn’t sound too much like French or Spanish or Russian.
My brother and I went to a friend’s house, and we wrote a bunch of gibberish out that would kind of fit with the dialogue. We were recording it in a little makeshift booth in our friend’s living room. I would give three takes and my vocal cords would get exhausted. My brother would do four takes and his would get exhausted. In the end, I think we used my brother’s voice. Our post sound guy distorted it a bit so it sounded less like a human voice and more like an alien voice.
So what’s up next for the Perez Bros?
We just released a film called Social Snafu, which imagines what would happen if your Facebook feed came to life and attacked you. It’s another short comedy, so we’re pushing that out into the ether right now. For 2017, my brother and I are looking at all the things we’ve done, but we also want to work on pushing our boundaries a little bit more and write some more long-form content. We’re currently writing outlines for different web series ideas, pilot ideas, and even feature ideas. This year is going to be where we really focus on the strength of our writing. So that’s our plan for 2017.
Want more? Take a look at the “Behind the Scenes: Universal Gentrification.”