Bryan Harley and Roque Rodriguez, the Fresno guys behind the YouTube channel Dumb Drum and Swede Fest, are traveling to New York to be guests on the Wednesday edition of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The pair caught the attention of the morning news program because of their low-budget shot-for-shot remake, also known as a Swede, of the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” movie trailer.
Harley and Rodriguez were contacted Sunday, Nov. 29, about their trailer, which has gained national attention since its release Nov. 18.
“They had seen the video and thought it was great. It started with them asking if they could have permission to air it Monday on ‘GMA,’ ” Harley said.
Through Sunday night, Harley got several more emails, which progressed to the pair doing a Skype interview to go along with the showing of the trailer. Then the pair were told that they – along with Brandon Jackson and Kia Vassiliades, who appear as the characters Rey and Finn in the local video – would be flown to New York for an appearance on the morning show.
“We still hadn’t gotten a confirmation Sunday night. So we weren’t sure if we were going. We watched ‘GMA’ the next morning and they showed a five-second clip when (‘The Force Awakens’ director) J.J. Abrams was on. We thought this is the end of it,” Harley said.
But they got a call to confirm their flights Monday, Nov. 30.
Harley said he believes Jackson and Vassiliades were invited because the actors who play Rey and Finn in “The Force Awakens” – Daisy Ridley and John Boyega – are scheduled to be on “GMA” the same day. The movie officially opens in theaters Dec. 18.
The locally made Swede was created for the 15th edition of the pair’s Swede Fest, a film festival they created that celebrates Sweded films. Since the film festival started, it has expanded to include several festivals on the East Coast.
It took the local filmmakers three weeks working after work and on weekends to build all of the sets and props for “The Force Awakens” Swede. One of the cardinal rules of a Swede is that everything seen on screen has to be made from materials at hand. No visual effects are allowed.
The two biggest elements to match were recreating the new droid BB-8 and an effect that looks like traveling in hyperspace.
BB-8 was hard to mimic because it’s a rolling ball with a top that doesn’t move. A friend created a fiberglass exercise ball they attached to a skateboard that allowed them to re-create the character.
Sweded films are made on a very small budget. The biggest cost for “The Force Awakens” Swede was for cans of spray paint. They lucked out with all the cardboard needed to build the sets because of a huge shipment that had arrived at Harley’s day job at the Community Media Access Collaborative.
This isn’t the first time Harley and Rodriguez have gotten national attention for one of their Swedes. They were interviewed by National Public Radio for their “Avengers” Swede, and the company behind “Pacific Rim” approached the pair to make videos to help promote the release of that film on video.
Making the Swedes has nothing to do with fame and fortune for the local filmmakers.
“We are just fans of movies,” Harley said.