Fresno makers of 'Pacific Rim' swede make good (video)

The Fresno BeeJuly 10, 2013 

Roque Rodriguez and Bryan Harley with "Pacific Rim" screenwriter Travis Beacham (center) at the film's premiere in Los Angeles.

SPECIAL TO THE BEE

For a couple of fan-boy film buffs like Bryan Harley and Roque Rodriguez, just meeting a director like Guillermo del Toro is cause for a squealing fit.

To have an actual conversation with the guy and to have him personally invite you to the premiere of his latest film would be enough to have you jumping up and down and hugging like school girls meeting Justin Bieber — which is pretty much what the local filmmakers did after meeting del Toro at the WonderCon Convention in March.

This week, they attended the premiere of the sci-fi epic, "Pacific Rim," at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles as special guests of the director. They saw the film and attended an after-party with the film's crew.

"The whole experience, including the movie, was awesome. From the amazing Dolby Theatre, to rubbing shoulders with the cast and crew at the after-party, it was definitely a surreal night we'll always remember," says Harley, who, along with Rodriguez is known for making low-budget sweded film and trailers.

A swede is a low- (or no-) budget, summarized re-creation of a popular Hollywood movie or TV show — an idea spawned by promotions for the cult film "Be Kind Rewind."

It's also the reason they were at the premiere.

The story is the latest success for Harley and Rodriguez and a case study in the power of viral videos.

The filmmakers have been making swedes since 2008 and have received their share of local press for the films, along with the associated festival they started to showcase them. It wasn't until the sweded version of "The Avengers" trailer was posted on YouTube that the filmmakers started seeing viral success. The trailer was the first in a series that includes "The Dark Knight Rises," "Iron Man 3" and del Toro's "Pacific Rim."

The trailers are shot scene-for-scene and are amazing in their creative (and artistic) use of cardboard, duct tape and spray paint. "The Avengers" trailer has more than 800,000 views and earned the pair mentions on CNN's "Geek Out," Ain't It Cool News, Slash Film and more. The Swede Fest made national news and was featured on NPR.

The film also made a fan of del Toro.

At a panel discussion at this year's WonderCon, he mentioned the "Pacific Rim" swede specifically, saying it was his inspiration for a trailer he created for the WonderCon event.

He didn't know that Rodriguez and Harley were in the audience, or that they would introduce themselves at a meet-and-greet after.

"We just straight came out and said, 'We're the guys who did the sweded trailer.' At first, del Toro just smiled, chuckled a little and nodded his head. Then, suddenly, his head shot up and said, "You are the guys?! Oh man!" writes Rodriguez, retelling the story in an online blog post.

Del Toro seemed as excited to meet them as they were to meet him. There were bear hugs and picture-taking and that invitation to the premiere. Within the day, Warner Brothers had tweeted a picture of the pair and the director from its official account.

"It was surreal, and I'm actually not sure it still happened," Rodriguez writes.

Then the tickets to the premiere came in the mail.

As to Rodriguez and Harley's review of the film, now that they've seen it: "All we can say now is go see 'Pacific Rim' this weekend," Harley says.

The reporter can be reached at jtehee@fresnobee.com, at (559) 441-6479 or on Twitter @JoshuaTehee

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