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Director Danny Perez talks Animal Collective collaboration on new film "Oddsac"

oddsacAn image from Animal Collective's "Oddsac" - it's not exactly a popcorn flick. (Courtesy of Swiss Dots)

By David Malitz

It's hard to deny that 2009 was the year of Animal Collective. The Maryland-bred experimental pop band enjoyed massive breakthrough success with its consensus album-of-the-year "Merriweather Post Pavillion," transforming from cult favorite to legitimate headliners. So what was the band's first move in 2010? Release a "visual album" containing plenty of bizarre music and intense imagery. "My Girls" it ain't.

Titled "Oddsac," the film was directed by longtime collaborator Danny Perez, along with input from the band. Fans know Perez for his work on Animal Collective videos for "Who Could Win a Rabbit?" and "Summertime Clothes." The psychedelic, very-David-Lynchian-film screens at AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, tonight -- there are showings at 8 and 10 p.m. -- and Perez and Animal Collective member Geologist will be on hand for a Q&A session after each screening.

Click Track spoke with Perez about how the project came together, how viewers should prepare for seeing it and the most common question he's been getting on the film tour so far.

So how did the idea for "Oddsac" come about? What did you and the band each bring to the table?

I accompanied them for a brief section of a tour and we brainstormed some live action type moments. Some were based on something as little as an action or a theme or just a technical aspect. Like, "Oh, it would be cool to see something through a reflection of a window." Other parts were more specific, in regards to effects. So those were the live action parts.

And then there's a third of the movie that's more abstract animation. And those were the parts that became the supplement to all these live action parts. And that's what gave it the structure that it has. As far as the ideas that end up on the screen, the ideas and the characters, those are things we come up with together. But the overall look - the sets, the costumes, the props, the lighting - that's all my department. Where I fulfill my end of the collaboration.

("Why is it so dark?" After the jump.)

The band wanted it to be a "video album" - what does that mean?

We didn't want it to be episodic, just a bunch of music videos. And we didn't want it to be a long music video. We wanted there to be a little more interplay between the sound and the visuals. In the end I feel like we were successful in that regard. The two definitely inform each other along the way and seem pretty inextricable from each other. I'm sure people are listening to it online or will listen to it down the road but it seems like there would be a certain gap in logic in terms of how the two are related.

How would you prepare people for the viewing experience?

Probably the "Summertime Clothes" video just because that's something I made while I was making "Oddsac." And it was made with the same crew, the same cameraman, the same people I work with when making costumes. I would just desire that people go in with an open mind and kind of wipe their brain clean and let the experience involve them or take them over. It can be a positive experience or it can be a negative experience. But at the very least I would argue that it's a pretty visceral one. So I think as long as people are open to that and want a different kind of experience they won't be disappointed.

You're doing Q&As with the audience after every screening. Have there been any common questions so far?

There are definitely a couple. (Laughs.) The one I probably find the most amusing and bewildering is people are always like, "Why is it so dark?" Or complaining that it's so dark. That might be something that's throwing people for a loop. Or at least people who aren't as familiar with the band's catalogue or my work.

There's definitely a different crowd now than if it came out a few years ago. Do you think the movie helps reaffirm the band's weirdness, that it was part of their intention?

I wouldn't say it was a conscious effort because the music was written simultaneously with "Merriweather." But I think it certainly doesn't hurt, or at least helps keep one foot in that domain. I mean, even "Merriweather," which I think is great, I was astounded by how much it picked up. Obviously the melodies are great but the sounds and structures are still totally weird and pretty obtuse. Strange world we live in. For sure. But I was certainly aware of that as the light became visible at the end of the tunnel as far as editing and finally getting it done. In the wake of all of that I was like, "Wow. A lot of people are going to see this."

So because of the buzz around the band and your association with them have you had any bizarre offers to direct anything?

No. (Laughs.) Unfortunately, no. (Laughs.) "Oddsac" is an extreme piece of work. Even at its most jubilant and at its most harsh it's at 10. It's pretty extreme. I feel like that's in a weird way indicative of my world outlook, as far as having a strange, fatalist view when I was making this movie. Like, "If this is the last thing I ever make, if this is the only thing I ever get to make, I just want to make a movie that I would be psyched to watch, 100 percent." And have every scene and every moment be instant gratification from a visual perspective. So it is extreme in that regard.

animal collectiveAnimal Collective gets weird again with "Oddsac." (Adriano Fagundes)

By David Malitz  |  April 21, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: Animal Collective, Danny Perez, Oddsac  
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