August was a busy month at Blame Society Productions, the short film and video shop run by Madison-based filmmakers Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda. Over two consecutive weekends, they auditioned nearly 100 people for potential casting in a variety of upcoming productions, including Chad Vader season two. This was followed by a trip to Toronto for Fan Expo Canada over the final weekend of the month, a multi-day frenzy of sharing their work, meeting fans, and giving interviews.
"The response has been overwhelming," says Aaron Yonda. He and Sloan invited any interested actors and would-be actors to do cold readings of previous Blame Society works at a south side tavern. "We auditioned 40-some people one Sunday and another 50 the next Sunday," he explains. "We've gotten some really great people. Obviously some have more experience than others, but everybody had great energy. Nobody was terrible, it's great."
There has been so much interest in the auditions, in fact, that they are considering another round at some point in the future, though nothing has been set.
Blame Society's month ended with Fan Expo Canada, a multigenre convention held late every summer in downtown Toronto. It's central team -- Sloan, Yonda, Chad Vader producer Courtney Collins, and cinemaphotographer Tona Williams -- all traveled to the gathering, setting up shop in a booth next to one manned by David Prowse, the British actor who filled out the Darth Vader suit in the Star Wars original trilogy.
"We had a great time and were amazed at the number and niceness of our fans," wrote Yonda in a report from the con last Sunday. "David Prowse was a really nice guy. We got to spend some time with him and he expressed interest in collaborating sometime. Cameo in Chad Vader anyone? He's going to watch Chad Vader and I asked him to give me some feedback on my performance as Chad's body." More comments and photos from the convention were also published by Sloan and Collins. Engagements at more conventions are on the way for Blame Society, including in Madison where they will be appearing at Geek-Kon over the weekend of October 6-7.
At this point, negotiations are ongoing over the funding and sponsorship of a new season of Chad Vader. "We've gotten a few really good offer," explains Yonda. "We're just waiting, testing the waters with Lucasfilm to make sure everything is cool with them. We feel we need a budget to make these and pay the crew, which is what we really need to do for a second season." He and Sloan have more meetings lined up this autumn, and hope to get started as soon as possible.
Here are a few things fans can look forward to in Chad Vader season 2:
- The primary location will continue to be Empire Market, a.k.a. the Willy Street Co-op.
- A corporate takeover of the store, introduced at the end of the first season, will play a part in the new season's story arc. There will be changes in store there for its employees, including Chad, Yonda notes, some of which are hinted at in their video preview released a few weeks ago.
- Commander Wickstrom (played by Paul Guse) is going to start his training. "His levitation in Episode 8 is a prelude to Chad continuing his training," notes Yonda. "This may or may not play a major part in the season."
- "Weird Jimmy" (played by Craig Johnson) will continue to develop as a major character. In an interview with Image Icon Entertainment, Sloan and Yonda discussed their plans for him. "We're going to learn a little bit more about who he is," said Yonda, and "about how he became weird," continued Sloan.
- There will be one or two new major characters. "I can't really discuss them too much," says Yonda. They have sketched out new characters, but no names for them have been finalized.
- "There will be at least one major character that dies," says Yonda, quipping that he is giving this hint in the spirit of J.K. Rowling.
- They plan to continue nods to that long ago and far away galaxy. "We're going to find other ways to make it like Star Wars other than just quoting lines from it," says Yonda, "but we don't want to simply continue using lines from the movies."
- One of their hopes on this front are cameos. "We're hoping to score some cameos from people in other Star Wars movies or other guest stars," Yonda notes, though nothing is confirmed yet.
- They hope to utilize more green screen and special effects. "We have some plans to introduce some bigger and better effects," says Yonda. One example: "We're going to start introducing machinery." Does this mean something like droids? "You never know," he replies.
- Blame Society is not sure about the number of episodes in the second season. "It may depend upon who we cut a deal with to make them," notes Yonda, "it may depend on a lot of different things."
The first episode of the new season is all plotted out, and should be set primarily at the grocery store. "We really want to start shooting this fall," says Yonda. "In the entertainment business, stuff is always slow to happen; it might take a few months, or we might get stuff figured out sooner, so who knows."