When asked what his favorite of those precursors were, he said, “there’s a lot. I could do a week, double features everyday.” He named several: La Luna, Murmur of the Heart, the novel The Cement Garden, Charlotte Forever, The Dreamers, and the TV adaptation of Flowers in the Attic. “I could go on,” he said. “I watch them everyday.” Brody thought it was notable that though the siblings have sex, they aren’t struck down by lightning at the end. “That would have been great,” Perry said. “Two smoldering piles of ash.”
Brody also compared The Color Wheel to the famously fast-talking films of Howard Hawks. “I’ll take it,” Perry said. There are roughly 12,000 words of dialogue in The Color Wheel. He wanted to do a rapid-fire screwball that wasn’t just pastiche; 90 percent of the speed is in the acting, he said, but the other 10 percent comes from editing—from doing things like cutting 10 seconds from a 60-second sequence without losing one line of dialogue.
Perry stars in the film, and Brody noted he doesn’t seem very different in person than he does on screen. “I don’t know if I want to hear that,” Perry said. (He often seemed to be ribbing Brody. “You started watching movies as a kid?” Brody asked. “I assume so,” Perry answered.) There are some differences between man and character: for instance, in the film Perry wears pants that are too big without a belt, which he said drastically changed the way he carried himself. Still, Perry is not an actor—this was the first time he ever performed, he said, as well as for much of the cast. “Every friend of mine got a phone call, and those who said yes are in the movie,” he said. “No one who wanted to be in the movie didn’t get in.” Despite the largely nonprofessional cast, there was little improvisation—aside from some stray lines, everything appears in the film as written beforehand. He and his co-star Carlen Altman rehearsed a lot, but “everyone else I just trusted would do it right when they showed up.”
Perry also produced the film, which meant attending to a lot of the unromantic stuff. “I really wish I had a producer who wasn’t me,” he said. But when he tried to recruit producers, “it’s like when a kid says he’s going to build a spaceship. ‘Oh, yeah, show it to me before you take off.'” Though the movie is shot on 16mm film, it wasn’t that expensive to make: DP Williams already had the camera and five lenses, so there were no rental costs. And they got a great deal on film stock. Most of the budget went to food and gas; he could watch the crew eat lunch and think, “oh, man—look how much money these people are eating.”
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart
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