You Get Hurt or You Get Injured: J.J. Perry on Day Shift | Interviews

That’s right. 

But what was it like filming your very own car chase scene for “Day Shift”? 

For the most part, I direct those anyway. For a lot of the time, my job is to go out there and come up with a badass car chase, shoot it and cut it, and then they put the actor in a blue-screen and shoot their close-ups in the first unit. For me, it’s standard operating procedure. 

What I brought to “Day Shift” is that I brought the second unit pacing, how fast we move with three cameras, we’re getting 50, 60 set-ups a day. The actors were very engaged and very into what we were doing; I was very fortunate, we had a lot of fun making it. The cast never went back to their trailers, they just hung out on set because there’s music going, taco truck etc. But it was a fast-paced scenario, and the difference in when you’re directing action and you’re directing comedy is, when you’re directing action you have to whip that horse and keep your foot on the accelerator. With comedy you can’t do that, you have to let that happen. You have to take your time; that was the learning curve for me. But having Jamie Foxx as the starting pitcher, pitching shutouts, it wasn’t like I could fail!

I noticed a lot of longer takes in “Day Shift,” or establishing shots where it would be the skyline and then the camera dropping down to the character. Is that what you’re talking about too with that second-unit pacing?

I shot the movie in 42 days with no second unit. There wasn’t a lot of time. We shot 31 days in Atlanta, and then 11 days in Los Angeles. When I was in LA, all my establishing shots had to be big drone shots because the Valley was a character, I had to film that character. That’s where that came from. And over all the years working with the different crews that I’ve worked with, I handpicked the crew, because I knew whoever I chose was going to have to be a soldier. We needed artists, but we needed artists that were soldiers, too. 

How does it work with getting actors action-ready? Did you give Jamie Foxx a lot of training? 

I did a movie years ago called “Warrior” with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, and we had a massive boot camp for that as well. That’s kind of the standard operating procedure as well for 8711, our team. Even Keanu Reeves was three months of training for “John Wick: Parabellum,” and judo, jiu-jitsu, gun work, car work, everything. The best way to make them into a badass is to just make them into a badass. 

It’s not hard with Jamie because he was a quarterback, and he’s in amazing shape. Dave Franco is a great athlete. Strangely, Snoop Dogg is a great martial artist too, he trains hard. So we had a little boot camp for everyone, we didn’t have the time to have a three-month boot camp, but we had a pretty extensive four-week program that was ongoing and fluid, where we had everyone reloading guns and practicing punches. So yeah, I had brilliant accomplices, and for the most part everybody did all their own work. 

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