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I’ve been posting a bit, especially on my IG, about the upcoming film I’m directing - An Electric Sleep. This is my first feature film, and I learned as much on it in the first two days on set as I did in film school.

I can tell you this much, the talent that I’ve gotten to work with carries this film - that’s what Lys does.

I met Lys Perez in our casting process, and she brought so many intangibles to the role that it was hard to envision anyone else in the film after our first auditions. She’s an incredibly powerful actress, but seems to filter it through a subdued quietness that appears when needed. In making this film, I remember being so excited showing her the first trailer and getting her approval. It really gave me so much confidence as a director on my first film.

Lys is constantly putting out great work - you can see her in Street Dreams and President Evil, but check her out on IG and her website here to stay up-to-date!

Lys! What do you do, as far as working with directors?

LP: I’m an actor, and my relationship with directors involves high-fiving, cracking jokes, and yes, filming stuff. I consider most of my relationships with directors to be friendships. We are collaborators in creating the narrative.

What do you personally look for in a new director in creating a collaboration?

LP: When I look at a breakdown for a project, I consider it because it resonates with me. It fans my flame. I need to work with someone who has that same fire to make something great. I believe that also manifests in how the director manages the crew on and off set. They should be professional and timely, but still have fun.

If they have a truth to share, the fire to bring it, and a solid outline of how, where and when, I’m in. It’s also important for me to be able to answer yes to this question, “Could I see myself casually hanging out with this person?” If yes, that’s a cherry on top of the long days and early call times.

What are some mistakes that you’ve seen new directors make?

LP: I’m a fairly new actor so it’s difficult for me to critique new directors. We are all learning together. Often times things happen on set that no one can control. However, when those bigger instances do happen, it’s important to communicate them so cast and crew aren’t left in the dark. Communication, honesty, and decisiveness can remedy a situation or at least make it less painful.

Do you have any advice for a new feature film director?

LP: Trust and believe in what you want to create even if you don’t have a budget. When you believe in a project so genuinely and embrace the humanity of it, other talented human beings will want to be a part of your truth. So believe, go with your gut, plan the hell out of it, and have fun in the learning process.

What film do you think that all directors starting out should watch?

LP: I saw Widows directed by Steve McQueen last year. The grace by which he turned a genre film into a “not a genre film” and interwove social commentary captivated me. He also collaborated with a brilliant female driven ensemble which alone would compel a recommendation from me.