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Interview – Numa Perrier (House of Numa production company, actor, director)

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Interview – Numa Perrier (House of Numa production company, actor, director)
Interview – Numa Perrier (House of Numa production company, actor, director)

If you have seen truly independent 2019 film Jezebel, you’ll already be aware of scintillating filmmaking skills of an interesting inspired person Numa Perrier, founder, creative director of multi-media artistic production company, House of Numa. On the eve of heading to New York to work on a Netflix feature, I had the privilege to sit and discuss everything I could think of with one of the most lovely, cool, enthusiastic people in the business.

What motivated you to create a production company.
NPalways been big on ownership, moving quickly on things, have always thought I had a production company even as a kid. I feel like I’ve been producing performance events for a long time. House of Numa is close to me, inviting, welcoming, a place for black women can be progressive, not only through making films also through various voices of opinion and creative style.

Like the name, you want to build a house with people.
NPwell yes. I have a really big collection of exotic gloves and have been interested in fashion industry where many designers call their company a house. House of Dior and so on. So, I’ve mixed in the film world in the title.

You costumed designed on Jezebel.
NPI did because I had to, every little detail you see I picked. The next movie I’m doing deals a lot with fashion, an added joy to work closely with that department. My joy of all aspects of filmmaking comes through, I think. I look at House of Numa as each room is an aspect of what I enjoy.

Was the entertainment industry always your destiny growing up.
NPyes, since I was seven, I’ve always been writing. Had stars in my eyes, when started studying fell in love with cameras or imagery, it fell together to be a filmmaker. It’s a deep passion.
It’s cool that now I can move into a project with more money, more people to collaborate with, not on my own. I don’t have to do production design solo this time (laughs).

Did you go to the movies and enjoy films as a child.
NPno, we were poor kids, never went to the movies, the only thing we would see was whatever mum was interested in on TV; Soap operas, talk shows and especially the six-o-clock-news, which gave me a lot of interest in people, humanity to the world. Never had any exposure to movies or art museums and the like. As an adult I went back to look at films I had missed.

You consumed them late just means experienced the joys later.
NP yes Shane, it’s funny because when people as what is your favourite movie or actor or filmmaker, i had influences but just didn’t grow up with them so I have different point of view to many people’s surprise. I was watching movies, whilst making my own.

Is it hard to get a film production going from concept.
NPI’m great at beginning things moving it forward. I also keep endurance going by kicking discipline to finish strong. I call it a feature film because it’s always a ‘feat’ to accomplish.

Do you have a preference for acting, directing, producing.
NPacting is similar to dancing, once a dancer always a dancer, right? It’s similar to acting the essence is in your bones, when I direct or write I come from an actor’s point of view. I’ll write it in a way thinking that I want every actor reading it will want to play the character. I feel the most freedom and relief as an actor. When I direct, I love to respect the process of my team, thinking like them.
If I see them struggling, I may not have the answer but do have sensitivity, I understand it’s hard work.

Which is harder for you.
NPyou have the biggest responsibility as director. It’s full glory the movie is a hit, or you go down in flames if not. So, it’s the most challenging you can’t blame anyone else. Acting to me is bravery.

Your Netflix movie coming up must be exciting.
NPThe Perfect Find, it’s a romantic comedy, I call it a messy love story. We have an awesome cast; Gabrielle Union, is lead. Niecy Nash is in it I absolutely adore, also, Keith Powers is great, it’s a relationship journey with a big generation gap. It’s delicious.

I’m so stoked for you.
NP it’s in New York, my first big studio feature; it’s going to be brilliant (laughs) my team is preparing. It’s the big league for me. Netflix gives me creative freedom; I want you to see it Shane.

Thankfully the industry is evolving finally, have you had any resistance getting roles, or projects with unfair explanations.
NPThere’s definitely been opportunities that didn’t come my way because they were not even thinking of having a black person, or unfortunately a black woman in the part. Ten years ago, I would not have the space I have today for projects I have today. It’s more the opportunities I never knew about that haunt me, thinking wow, how long has the door really been closed. The fact my film Jezebel, had distribution was people carving the way behind the scenes.
It’s a wonderful time now but it can get better, if I hadn’t made Jezebel we wouldn’t be talking it was made totally independently, I didn’t wait for anyone to say, it’s OK to start now. I found a way.

Speaking of Jezebel, what a movie, how did you feel when positive recognition SXSW flowed in, was it a turning point.
NPso nervous, scared even, waiting for that first Hollywood Reporter or Variety review to come in. You actually don’t even know if you’re getting a review out of competition, they could’ve passed. I had a publicist who alerted me that a writer had been assigned to my film, Frank Scheck (laughs). Immediately looked up his previous reviews revealing he was a hard-ass, not a soft-ball critic. Having lunch with star lead Tiffany (Tenille) I was thinking let’s just look. I opened it reading on seeing it got better and better. It could’ve really made or broke our time at the festival. Also a few bad reviews, but a really good conversation began around the film.

Tell me one thing nobody knows about you.
NPI used dance a lot in my writing process, time alone dancing around naked, order sushi. Be myself let it all hang out for inspiration to create. Let myself have privacy to let ideas arrive. I go wild with that when trying to unlock something deep. I’m forced to write in all types of circumstances, being able to carve out that time and not wear anything (laughs). Now you know Shane (laughs)

houseofnuma.com for all production news/views by Numa Perrier

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