‘Day Shift’ Stuntman-Turned-Director J.J. Perry on Shooting Intricate Vampire Action Sequences

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J.J. Perry started his career in Hollywood by getting hit by cars. Now, he’s taking on his first project for the big screen. In “Day Shift,” Perry used his extensive knowledge of stunts and action scenes to create vampire-slaying sequences with garlic grenades, katanas and silver bullets.

“I prepped this movie so hard,” Perry told Variety Wednesday evening at the red carpet premiere for the film in Los Angeles. “I think we ended up with, like, 65 setups. [The first day on set] was the opening fight in the grandma’s house. We shot that in three days. It would usually take people about five or six days. We were ready. We knew what we were doing. A bunch of action guys doing action stuff.”

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“Day Shift” stars Jamie Foxx as a father and vampire hunter in the San Fernando Valley. Alongside friends, played by Dave Franco and Snoop Dogg, Foxx takes on the villainous “Uber vampire” Audrey (Karla Souza) before she takes over the entire valley. The supporting cast is rounded out by Meagan Good, Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Zion Broadnax. And in Perry’s eyes, directing his first feature film wasn’t that tall of a task.

“I’ve been directing second unit for 20 years now, which is arguably harder to do than first unit,” Perry said. “Because you’re driving 17 cars, six motorcycles, explosions, motorcycles, helicopters. So getting an opportunity to direct first unit was a real challenge, but a lot of fun. And I checked it off my bucket list and hope everybody loves it. And hopefully we’ll be doing it again.”

Bordizzo plays a katana-wielding vampire in the film that fights alongside Foxx, cutting enemy vampires in half with outstanding acrobatics. Bordizzo, a seasoned vet of action movies due to appearances in “Guns Akimbo” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny,” recalls the ease that comes with having an ex-stuntman helming a film.

“He’s very visual,” Bordizzo explained. “It was very snappy. Like you come to work and he knows exactly what he wants. He also has a very military-like stunt team… It’s actually amazing.”

“Day Shift” premieres this Friday, Aug. 12 exclusively on Netflix.

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