He usually makes movies about neurotic New Yorkers. Now he’s made one with Swedish metal band Ghost

A man in white face paint consults with a director in a hoodie.
Filmmaker Alex Ross Perry, right, and Ghost frontman Tobias Forge, on set. The two have co-directed a concert film, “Rite Here Rite Now.”
(Marcus Maddox)
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It’s been nearly 20 years since the world was first graced by Ghost, the theatrical Swedish metal act with a seemingly satanist bent. A far cry from small-town Linköping, where frontman and chief creator Tobias Forge first began writing and recording songs, the band now has five studio albums, several EPs, a Grammy and enough lore to occupy an entire occult bookshelf.

Despite all these achievements, a concert film remained a distant thought to Forge, who noted that the group was reluctant to commit.

“We’ve shied away from making one,” the 43-year-old singer says on a video call from Stockholm, almost relishing in his stubbornness. “Basically, as soon as we get the question from festivals, ‘Can we film the show?’ No. ‘Can we somehow broadcast that?’ No. Forget about it, we don’t want to do that.”

“The longer it took for us to make a film, the more I knew that this was something that was going to be worth sitting on,” he adds.

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It wouldn’t be until Forge crossed paths with indie film director Alex Ross Perry that a movie, “Rite Here Rite Now” (in theaters Thursday), would come to fruition. To call this turn of events unexpected would be an understatement — the 39-year-old Perry is more recognizable for his character-driven dramas about neurotic New Yorkers (“Listen Up Philip,” “Golden Exits”) than for filming fist-pumping spectacles at the Kia Forum.


But, crucially, he also happened to be an admirer.

“I was a fan before I thought we would ever collaborate,” Perry says via Zoom from New York, only occasionally interrupted by his young daughter. “And I remain a fan of the aesthetics, the merchandise, the story-building and the music.”

He’d heard ramblings about their “real deal” status and made it a point to check them out in 2017, when Ghost opened up for Iron Maiden at the Barclays Center. Needless to say, he swooned.

“We love that theatricality,” Perry says of the show and Forge’s overall penchant for grand gestures. “He’s obviously loved it his whole life.”

A man in face paint stares into the lens.
Ghost’s Tobias Forge in the movie “Rite Here Rite Now.”
(Robert Kolodny)

In between films, Perry began working with Ghost’s record label Loma Vista and eventually threw his hat into the ring for any potential projects. First it was the band’s 2022 April Fool’s Day film “Metal Myths: Ghost Pt. 2,” then a free pop-up exhibit at Los Angeles’ legendary Whisky a Go Go.

By 2023 and the tail end of Ghost’s 20-month world tour for their most ambitious album, “Impera,” the time was finally right to capture their live experience on film. Perry was ready. Of course, it helped that they had 10,000 concertgoers packing the Kia Forum to the brim.


“We knew once we finally came out with a concert movie, it’s going to be something that the fans have waited for,” Forge says. “So you better make it count.”

Ghost would seem to be a director’s dream. Forge stalks the stage in white face paint, a dapper, demonic menace. The musicians all wear face-obscuring masks, a constant throughout Ghost’s several incarnations. (They’re referred to as Nameless Ghouls.) Forge’s Catholic iconography-inspired costumes, designed by Bea Åkerlund, add a controversial mystique. An embroidered “666” adorns the sleeve of one of his anti-Pope outfits. Topping even the pyrotechnic glam-rock traditions of KISS and hair metal, this particular show features dancers dressed as skeletons and massive stained-glass windows that loom behind the band for the entire set.

A metal guitarist shreds onstage.
One of Ghost’s so-called Nameless Ghouls performs in “Rite Here Rite Now.”
(Robert Kolodny)

Sometimes Ghost’s shtick isn’t welcome. A crowd of protesters gathered outside of a September 2023 show in The Woodlands, Texas, hoisting signs that read “Defamation is not free speech” and “I’m Catholic — stop attacking my faith.” The non-fans put their outrage on full display.

“I think it’s sad,” Forge says of such incidents. “We’re not there to cause controversy. We’re there to entertain people. The point is not for kids to make their parents angry — that never was.”

Forge has a reluctance to explain too much. When Ghost gained momentum shortly after the release of their 2010 debut, “Opus Eponymous,” he found that other bands were drowning their fans with constant social media updates.


“I did not want to communicate at all,” Forge recalls. “I want to get people thinking and fantasizing about things — I don’t want to f— tell them.”

Coming into a gig that already had a strong visionary in place (but one who needed structural help), Perry had been tasked with “story surgery,” hammering out Forge’s buildup of ideas about the mythos and a screenplay and putting them to paper. When it came down to the actual filming, both parties agreed on a practical approach. Not only had L.A. always been a second home to Forge, it was also where the band had scheduled back-to-back shows in September. They’d need two shows because, on at least one of those nights, per Forge, something would no doubt go wrong. (It helped that all of the on-site filming was done by live concert director Jim Parsons, a producer for Coldplay, Genesis and Ed Sheeran.)

A singer in a spotlight performs in front of a huge crowd.
Ghost performing at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum in 2023. Two separate shows were filmed for “Rite Here Rite Now.”
(Ryan Chang)

On Perry’s end, he insisted all the film’s postproduction be done in his hometown of New York City to not go above budget.

“If I have to do it in L.A., no, you can’t do anything for the budget you have,” Perry says. “If I have to do it in Stockholm, no, I don’t know anybody. If I can do this in New York, my way will bring this in for exactly what you want to spend.”

This resulted in all of the film’s “backstage” scenes being shot there as well, where he created an entire set to mesh seamlessly with the Kia Forum. “It has gear cases, about one couch and some folding chairs,” Perry says of the real backstage at the Forum. “Tobias wanted his grand baroque, red-velvet-curtain, chandelier, Phantom of the Opera-looking set.”

Those scenes play a crucial role in the film, adding breaks to the nearly two hours of performance.


In one sequence, Forge goes through an outfit change backstage, emerging in a bedazzled boxing robe. The camera follows him through the crowd and ends up capturing footage later edited to resemble a UFC or WBA walkout. It doesn’t play a huge part in the grand scheme of the film, but it shows that Forge and Perry were clearly having fun behind the camera — more than willing to experiment with something goofy yet befitting of Ghost’s style.

“[Forge] makes these incredible albums that fans love, with these wonderful songs that fill up arenas,” Perry says. “Then, on the other hand, he makes these very slapsticky comedy sketches, and he’s inexplicably managed to combine these two into the super-project.”

A director gives notes on set.
Filmmaker Alex Ross Perry on the set of “Rite Here Rite Now.”
(Marcus Maddox)

And that’s the glue: Perry and Forge come from entirely different worlds but manage to make a film that both encapsulates the overall grandeur of Ghost and also doesn’t take itself too seriously. Perry credits editor Robert Kolodny, whom he calls a wizard. “He spent two months with me making the most arcane Ghost documentary-mockumentary possible,” says the director.

Ghost may not have Beyoncé or Taylor Swift numbers, but there’s a strong and loyal fan base behind them that knows how to show up for the band. To watch “Rite Here Rite Now,” every other concertgoer seems dressed head-to-toe in nun attire. Others headbang behind black-and-white face paint, mirroring their idol.

Will there be another collaboration between Ghost and Perry? “Why not?” Forge says. Regardless, it will be years before we see it.

In the meantime, fans of the director won’t have to wait as long. He has another music-related film in the works. Though Perry’s relationship with Ghost spans nearly a decade, his work with the revered alt-rock band Pavement goes all the way back to 1999. The group called upon him to direct the music video for its viral hit “Harness Your Hopes.” Perry also directed its “Slanted! Enchanted! A Pavement Musical” in 2022.

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He is now finishing a full-fledged Pavement biopic, “Pavements.”

“It’s largely been the bane of my existence,” Perry joked. “It could not be more different than [“Rite Here Rite Now”], but it’s two different sides of the same brain waves of musical storytelling.” Perry confirms to The Times that the edit is picture-locked.

Ghost, meanwhile, will inevitably rock on, shaking stadiums and pissing off Sunday churchgoers along the way. As far as live acts go, they’re one of the best in the business — and now they have the movie to prove it.


“I figured I better get things in order and tell the story,” Forge says of the concert film, which, while often deafening, strikes notes of community and kindness. “Because people are listening, you might as well tell them something important.”