Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Force For Fun Interview with Jim vs. Vader Filmmakers Erik Beck and Justin Johnson

You have scene the video above, now lets get to know filmmakers Erik Beck and Justin Johnson, the duo behind Jim vs. Vader.  

Erik and Justin met in 2005 and began working together in 2007, the dynamic duo moved to Los Angeles in 2011.  In addition to creating their own Youtube videos they have produced music videos for Sony/RCA and cable network promos for The Hub and Epix.  

What brings a kid from Yuba City, CA together with a kid from Eau Claire, WI?  Why Star Wars of course.  

Erik and Justin were kind enough to take the time to talk a little Pringles, a little film making and a lot about Star Wars.  
Lightsaber Rattling (LR): I understand you both are fans of the AT-ATs and the Battle of Hoth, which makes me think you are big fans of The Empire Strikes Back.  Do you think Empire is the best of the Star Wars films and why or why not?
HA! Funny you should ask because we actually made a silly video where Justin and I explore that very questions (while battling in giant robots made of cardboard of course). In the video Justin argues that Empire is the best, while I think Return of the Jedi is the better. In reality though I think we both agree Empire is indeed best! It's the darkest of the original trilogy and the character growth that Luke goes through is so great. At the end of the day its hard to compete with that first battle between Luke and Vader. It's so moody and well shot and of course has the epic reveal at the end!

LR:  Answer honestly. When eating Pringles do you make the "duck face" at least once?
That seems like something Justin would do for sure. I've of course done it, you really have to at least once, but in general I like to get right to business when it comes to enjoying Pringles. No time to goof around when delicious snacks are involved! ;)

LR: I was impressed with the visual effects in Jim vs. Vader, can you talk a little about how you were able to accomplish this?
Star Wars is such a seminal film in the world of special effects that we really wanted that aspect to shine in our spot.  If you watch the full 60 second version it's sort of crazy how many gags we cram in there. For the lightsaber battle we got lucky in that our friend Jim (namesake for our main character) is a trained stuntman with stage combat experience. He taught our actors all their sweet moves and was the stunt double who did the flip off the table. For everything else we tried to keep a solid balance between simple "practical effects" and computer generated effects. For example the saber "blades" were thin metal rods painted white that we painstakingly covered up in After Effects. Our friend Devin (also a stuntman) threw himself backward onto a hidden pad for the part when Vader tries to force push Jim.  Our favorite effect though is when the mug gets chopped in half. The key to that one was a trick mug that is already cut in half and has a small dam built in the side to hold a small amount of coffee. There's some great behind the scenes videos on the Pringles YouTube channel ( where we talk more about all of this, but suffice it to say we really love creating special effect!

LR: As filmmakers what was your reaction to the news that we would be getting new Star Wars films and is there anything in particular you want to see in those films?
We are very excited that there will be new Star Wars films coming soon! J.J Abrams is one of my favorite contemporary directors and we have full faith Disney will do the new movies right. Lucas & Disney have been making awesome stuff together for years. Just look at Star Tours! I would also look to the great job they did with the Muppets, another beloved and well respected franchise, and get excited for future of Star Wars movies!

Visit to see Jim vs. Vader as well as the other finalists in The Force For Fun contest presented by Pringles and Star Wars. 

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