Salvador Perez “Faster”
By Liuba Randolph, March 3, 2010
I am on the set with CD Salvador Perez on his current project, “Faster,” starring Dwayne Johnson.
L. Randolph: Can you tell us a little bit about the film and some of the characters you are designing?
S. Perez: “Faster” is a revenge action movie. Johnson plays “Driver,” who was set up for bank robbery and sent to prison for 10 years. He spends his time in prison plotting his revenge against the people that set him up. The film is about getting that revenge.
L. Randolph: What is his character’s look?
S. Perez: I called the prison system and I asked them what someone without family, friends or relatives would do about clothing when they were released? They said they would get clothes out of a donation box. So we had to keep the look pretty basic. We needed a jacket because of the story line. He’s a massive body builder, so nothing off the rack fit him. We had the leather jackets custom-made for him, and then we had our ager/dyers destroy and distress them to give them a used look. The t-shirt and jeans look required 30 multiples for all the action scenes involving blood and what-not. The irony is it’s all supposed to be donated used clothing, but some of it was custom-made.
L. Randolph: How big is your crew and did you have any problems getting the size crew you needed?
S. Perez: Although it is an action movie, a lot of it is two people in a car, so we didn’t need a big crew, once we were shooting. I have a costume supervisor, a key costumer, two set costumers and day players.
L. Randolph: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
S. Perez: Ha, the quantity of multiples! Everyone gets shot and bloody. One of the shirts that Dwayne wears is an Armani, which they didn’t make that many of, so Armani found them for me in Italy, and they flew them in. But when you see it on screen, you won’t know what it is, it just fits beautifully, and that’s movie magic! And then finding 30 pairs of jeans and aging and distressing them exactly the same is always a challenge. Then there is the millionaire assassin who dresses in high end fashion. I looked for the quantity I needed, but that didn’t work, so I ended up having his final look, all 8 of them, custom-made.
L. Randolph: So, how much of the film was bought and how much was built?
S. Perez: I would say of my leads, including the multiples, 50% of it was built. There is a wedding in the film, and the director wanted a very sexy dress. I had lots of promotional wedding gowns offered, but they were too “bridal” and just weren’t right. In the end, it was easier designing it and having it custom-made.
L. Randolph: If it wasn’t custom made where did you shop?
S. Perez: For the killer, Oliver Jackson Cohen, it’s all been Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, YSL for a high-end millionaire playboy look. Billy Bob Thornton plays a cop and we wanted him in a western-inspired look, so for him, there was a lot of Internet shopping to get the quantity. We found a $60 corduroy blazer, but then I needed 20 of them, and they all needed to be aged. You can find the cheapest blazer in the world, but what has been my biggest expense on this show is the aging and dying. It’s artistry in itself.”
L. Randolph: Have you found that you do more Internet shopping than foot shopping?
S. Perez: For the quantity you do. The stores are so under-stocked right now. Two years ago I could walk into a store and there would forty different types of shirts, now I would be lucky to find six!
L. Randolph: How has your budget been, is it enough for this project?
S. Perez: The film takes place over fix days and some characters only have one change, but when you are talking about multiples, it gets very expensive. It was a little bit of a fight. I have to credit my supervisor, Gala Autum, who does the most detailed budget! When I hand in the budget, it’s broken down for each character, each scene and look, and when the producers want to fight it, they see there is no room to budge. I have never had a producer question her budget, because the details are there.
L. Randolph: How involved has the studio been with approvals?
S. Perez: I do an initial presentation for the vision, and then I meet with the director and get his approvals, and then I send photos to the studio via emails. Fortunately, they have loved it all. I don’t like to do approvals with the director via email, because there is a lot of explanation that has to go on. As a rule, I also don’t leave photos with a director, because then they start to obsess over them. I walk in with the photos and then walk out with them. When we get close to shooting, I have the line pulled and we go over each character’s costumes.
L. Randolph: Are there a lot of special effects or CGI in the film?
S. Perez: There is actually quite a bit. The one thing we are finding is that in a few years there won’t be any more squibs.** It will all be done in visual effects. They only used three squibs in our big shoot-out scene. There was a big panic, and then VFX said they would put it in during post-production. It’s good for costumes because we aren’t changing clothes over and over again!
L. Randolph: You have worked in both mediums, which do you prefer, film or TV?
S. Perez: I was a feature designer before I ever did TV, and I think designing TV really honed my skills. In a film, you might have 8–10 weeks of prep and then you shoot. On TV, I would do it in eight days. It’s funny that in TV you make half the salary and work twice as hard. I recently completed two TV series back to back, and after the hectic pace of TV, I was almost bored on the prep of this film. Having said that, we really needed the time just to get all the multiples.
L. Randolph: Is there one new thing you learned on this project?
S. Perez: I learned that making new connections and working with new people is a great thing, and there are a lot of wonderful craftsmen out there.
* This article is reproduced from the CDG Newletter.
** Squib is an industry term for the fake blood packets placed under an actor’s costume which break open when the character is “shot.”