For fans of Millennium, Perry Lang will most likely be known for directing the season two episode, Monster. In the wider sense, Perry is a director, writer and actor who has contributed to countless series’ and movies both in front of the lens and behind. Considering how busy he is we were delighted when Perry agreed to take time from his schedule to speak to us about the genuinely unnerving experience that is, Millennium ‘Monster’.
BACKTOFRANKBLACK: As far as genre and cult offerings go, it would be simpler to mention what you haven’t directed rather than what you have. All directors must have a unique approach and vision which they bring to the projects they are working on. What would you define as a ‘Perry Lang’ approach to directing? If you could pick a shining example of your style at its zenith, what would it be?
PERRY LANG: My approach to directing is essentially text driven. In other words the script talks to me… after reading it as many times as possible. I’ve gone through a lot of phases that might be defined as a style, now I just like listening to the script and seeing what it’s saying, if that makes any sense.
BTFB: You have a very balanced history of work in front of the camera and behind it. From a personal perspective which affords you the greatest degree of personal satisfaction, acting or directing? Do you believe it is essential to have experienced life in front of the lens to be effective behind it?
PL: I don’t believe you need to be an actor (or have been one) to understand how to work with them. For me, it a took a while to understand how each individual actor works within his/her process. I stupidly assumed early on that all actors worked like me and in that I was completely mistaken. I enjoy good material and I would have said for the last twenty years that my only desire would be to write or write and direct but as I get older, the idea of acting again sounds appealing.
BTFB: I have noticed that you appear to direct a couple of episodes of a series before moving on to the next, as most Directors do. Do you enjoy this aspect of your work or would you appreciate a longer tenure on a show? Are there pros and cons to both aspects of your profession? From a totally uneducated perspective, when a new Director visits an established franchise how is it ensured that your work, whilst distinctive, reflects the established mood and theme without being incongruous?
PL: I enjoy moving around. Creatively I actually get bored with a show after directing a few episodes but sometimes I miss working with some of the people on certain shows and moving on often means leaving those working relationships behind.
A director doesn’t have to work too hard to make the show he’s doing look like the series it’s a part of. There are so many elements that remain the same, it pretty much takes care of itself. That said, there are particular parameters in which you need to work but it’s not as hard as it may seem. In some ways a director has to keep looking outside of the rut in order to keep things fresh.
BTFB: When you approached ‘Monster’ were you aware of Millennium, its unique approach to story telling and the types of themes it dealt with? How would you assess the experience of working on the show and the results? Have you watched this episode in retrospect and critiqued you work with the value of hindsight?
PL: For me it was a chance to do something dark and I appreciated that aspect. I don’t believe I actually even saw the episode.
BTFB: Monster is one of a number of episodes that signaled the change in narrative and style that the second season of Millennium attempted to introduce, it introduced a popular new series regular, Kristen Cloke and eased a number of metaphysical aspects into the overall arc that would become prominent throughout the season. Were you aware at the time, and conscious of, the fact that you were in the process of somewhat redefining a franchise?
PL: No, not really, I guess I understood it didn’t have the audience that X-Files did but it was a much darker piece. I didn’t watch a single episode after directing Monster.
BTFB: A vast portion of the people we have spoken to have espoused warm memories of their time with the cast and crew of Millennium, aside from the technical side of your job as the episode’s director, do you recall your time fondly with regards to meeting Lance, Kristen and the rest of the cast and crew?
PL: I was happy, in that particular case, to move on to something else.
BTFB: As you know, we exist as an entity primarily geared to raising awareness of the groundswell of support that exists, and grows, with regards to a movie adaptation of Millennium. From a behind the scenes perspective, do you agree that this particular franchise is ripe for such an adaptation and considering the notable changes to the mood and theme during the show’s three seasons, where would you pitch such a project in terms of narrative, content, characters and so on?
PL: I’m glad you’ve found something (maybe something I never saw) in the show and I hope that you’re able to find it again in a feature film form. I sincerely applaud your passion.
BTFB: What can admirers of your work keep their eyes open for with regards to the continuing career of Perry Lang?
PL: I’ve in the final stages of post in Web Series that I’ve written and directed called Blue Belle, I hope you get a chance to see it soon.
BTFB: Once again, thank you so much for such a kind donation of your time, it truly does matter to an organization of individuals who have appreciated, discussed and dissected your work, with much pleasure, a thousand times over.
PL: Thanks for your interest. I thought your questions were well thought out and to the point — I appreciate it.