Pringles’ “The Force For Fun” Contest: Don’t Hold Your Breath

I must say, when I was in the third grade, sitting cross-legged watching Episode IV on VHS, I never would’ve imagined that I would one day be making something even remotely connected to the Star Wars universe. When Colin and I discovered the opportunity to make a Pringles/Star Wars tie-in commercial, we jumped at the chance to make our own. Like, for real, we both jumped simultaneously and high-fived. I wish someone could’ve freeze-framed us. Seriously though, we’ve been frequent contributors to the crowdsourcing video contest community, but choosing this project was an obvious no-brainer.

There were five log-lines to choose from for this project but one really stood out for us. A guy uses a Pringles can to sound like Darth Vader, and the REAL VADER shows up and catches him in the act. That’s literally all there was to work with.  The rest was up to us. I think this vagueness is really what turned us on to the idea. We could take it wherever we wanted. So we chose to make it a zero-to-hero and back-to-zero story about a guy who gets “discovered” doing this Pringles-can Vader voice and skyrockets to comedic stardom. We thought it would be fun to take an everyday dude on a ridiculously fast path to glory and then send him crashing back down.

Of course, showing his rapid success meant lots of different locations. We needed it to feel big. Sadly, both of our day jobs occupy most of our time, so it was really a challenge to squeeze all this in. We had a lot of help from our friends, mostly alumni from film school at the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts.

Our main actor and good friend Blake Walker is absolutely hilarious. Trained by the Upright Citizens Brigade in L.A., his improv skills are impeccable and we knew he’d be great for this. His schedule was tight though, so that made it even more challenging. We shot this whole piece in like 12 hours.

One of the highlights was definitely meeting our Darth Vader impersonator, Sam Newcomer. This guy was one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met. His wife and son joined us on set.  They have a kind of tradition surrounding Sam’s costume: Once he has the full suit, cape, boots, and gloves on, Sam’s son adds the finishing touch — the helmet. Then once the helmet goes on, the nice guy Sam we knew is gone, and Darth Vader rises. It was kind of freaky, really. The costume is 100 percent accurate. It’s the real deal. Colin and I both had a hard time bossing around Vader. The cool thing was that we were able to donate some our budget to the 501st Legion, a big community of people with Star Wars costumes who do appearances for charity. Our donation went to Autism Speaks. Kind of cool to be able to simultaneously support a great cause AND have Darth Vader in our film.

As hard as it was to put this whole thing together, we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Although next time, we’re hoping to include Chewie.

Visit Tongal’s site for more on Pringles’ The Force For Fun contest! And for more on the makers of “Don’t Hold Your Breath,” check out the official sites of Colin Duffy and Matt Sklar, and Blake Walker‘s UCB page!

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