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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 42.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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MadVideos -- Chad Vader Season 2 Episode 2 production notes
"Trouble With Lasers"
"Trouble With Lasers"
Credit:Blame Society Productions

Fans of Chad Vader finally get to see the true power of the title character's long-promised laser checkout system in the latest installment of the online program. Released early Saturday morning, this second episode of the new season finds trouble once again brewing for the day shift manager.

Created by Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda through their own Blame Society Productions, this comedy series and a growing collection of affiliated shorts was one of the first major online viral video successes, and has since amassed a worldwide audience. Shot primarily in the Willy Street Co-op on the near east side of Madison, the series recently embarked upon its a new season after a long hiatus.

Sloan and Yonda have said that this second season of the series will consist of multiple two-part story arcs, oftentimes with a cliffhanger separating each. This second episode directly follows the events of the first, with Chad leading a tour of Empire Market for a pair of corporate liaisons representing the store's new ownership: the new nemesis "Maggie" or "Margaret McCall," played by Karen Moeller; and new love interest "Libby," played by Kate Sprecher. Also making another appearance is "Champion J. Pepper," played by Sloan, father of Season 1 antagonist "Clint" and the outgoing owner of the market.

I worked as part of the crew for this episode, which was shot over the course of two separate weekends. The first, which also served as a primary shoot for the season premiere, captured many of the shorter scenes during the tour portion, including Chad, Maggie, and Libby's encounters with the rather Dalek-like mouse droid and "Weird Jimmy," played by Craig Johnson. The second, on the other hand, was largely devoted to a checkout lane set piece complete with effects shots and a rather unusual makeup challenge. Without giving too much away, it's worth noting this sequence was more complex than most in the series, complete with numerous extras and the use of a grocery cart for a motion shot by cinemaphotographer Tona Williams.

As with the first episode, the team of Sloan and Yonda along with Johnson and Rob Matsushita wrote the screenplay for this new one. As described in its promo, " Chad finishes his tour of the store with his new Red Leader guests, ending with a grand display of the new more powerful laser scanner..."

Titled "Trouble With Lasers," here is the second episode of the new season.

As always, the attitude on set was one of getting down to business, something that's particularly necessary when the shoot begins after the co-op closes and can run into the early hours of the morning. Given that this is a comedy, though, and the improv background of the creators and many of the actors, there's a good supply of jokes and laughs too. At the second shoot for the episode, the biggest diversion was the latest online viral hit, and the video that Sloan and Yonda had already made spoofing it.

Known as "David After Dentist" and posted online at the end of January, this barely two-minute-long clip features the anesthesia-induced ramblings, questions, and hollers of an eight-year-old Florida boy after getting a tooth removed. Over just a few weeks, the video racked up nearly 10 million views, a sign of its particularly rapid ascension, even in the wildly popular but also supersaturated kid and pet-oriented video subgenre. Of course, it also spawned plenty of response and tribute clips, including a quick fire creation from Blame Society.

Created the afternoon before the big second weekend shoot, their spoof titled "Chad After Dentist" finds the woozy helmeted character reenacting the original clip nearly word-for-word, albeit with a few minor changes to his monologue and the use of a lightsaber. Within a few days, the satire had racked up a million plus views of its own, and was cited in a story by TIME about the popularity of the original.

This spoof video, in fact, has so far received nearly eight times as many views as the season premiere, despite being the result of far less time and energy than the primary Chad Vader series. Though this can be somewhat frustrating for the filmmakers, they also recognize that it is a boon for their visibility and budget, directing viewers to the actual episodes and generating ad money that can be used for their production. Blame Society is self-financing this season, and is looking to raise funds from merchandise sales, donations, and other revenue to keep the series going.

More characters, action, and strange circumstances are forthcoming in upcoming episodes. As teased in the latest news letter from Blame Society: "Our plans for Season 2 involve multiple types of droids, a glimpse at Chad's home life and a strange new nemesis for Chad to face off against."

The next episode is tentatively due out in mid-March.

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