I never thought I would give direction to Darth Vader. Granted it was for a Pringles commercial contest, but it was still a surreal experience seeing Darth Vader walk onto set for the first time. The entire cast and crew went silent for a moment. Years of childhood memories rushed to our minds. I think Darth Vader broke the spell when he asked, “So what’s my cue?” in a very non-Darth Vader sounding voice.
Through a crowdsourcing site called Tongal, I submitted and won a pitch to produce a video for Pringles and Star Wars, with the potential of it becoming a national TV commercial. My script was based on another crowdsourced idea called “Imitating Vader.” I thought the idea was great in its simplicity, but I was skeptical the Pringles can would really work as a voice changer. So I bought some Pringles and tried it out. To my surprise, it actually worked quite well. Pringles really should start printing “Free Darth Vader Voice Changer” on every can.
With my script, I tried to bring Star Wars into the real world. And what better way to do that than to make Darth Vader a roommate to a bunch of bros. For the ending, I originally planned on having Darth Vader toss the guy across the room with a Force push, but Pringles told me that was too violent. And I don’t think they would’ve approved of my alternate ending of Vader slicing the guy in half with his lightsaber. So I decided to keep it classic and simple by using the Force choke.
We auditioned a lot of really excellent actors and I was extremely happy with the three we cast: Samba Schutte, Jeremiah Watkins, and Mark Sipka. All three of them have a strong comedy background, and they constantly surprised us with hilarious improvisations. Scott Allen from the 501st was perfect as Darth Vader. He was in his suit for close to six hours and didn’t complain at all. And he had all the Darth Vader mannerisms down to a T.
The actual filming was very easy and straightforward. No technical issues. No prima donnas. We didn’t really encounter any problems while filming, which is surprising because there’s usually something that goes terribly wrong. I guess the main problem was everyone trying to get photos with Darth Vader when there was a break in shooting. Also, people kept eating the Pringles. But I foresaw that happening, so we had like a dozen extra cans on set.
I was very lucky to work with such an amazing cast and crew. I’m very proud of the spot and I hope Star Wars fans will enjoy watching it as much as we all enjoyed making it.