One of the best parts of the San Diego Comic-Con is the opportunity to meet the creators of various comic books, films and shows that we enjoy year-round. We often take for granted the huge efforts required to create and produce content, and seeing these authors talk about their creative process is a treat. It’s especially great when you meet folks whose shows you follow regularly. So you can see how excited I was when I found the chance to meet Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda, creators of the hit web series Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager, which I follow closely. As they live and work in Wisconsin, it was a great chance for them to sit down with me for a brief interview, even with the loud din of the convention’s crowd. — Jason Nellis, Content Partner Manager
Hulu: You guys are, of course, the creators of Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager. For the benefit of our readers that aren’t familiar with the series, would you mind describing it for them?
Matt Sloan: Chad Vader is about Darth Vader’s younger brother, Chad. He works at a grocery store. He’s the day shift manager.
Hulu: And you guys are now into the third season, correct?
Aaron Yonda: Yes.
Hulu: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered in doing three seasons of the show so far?
Aaron: You know, the biggest challenge for me is that I have to wear the suit. [Aaron plays Chad Vader onscreen, while Matt voices the character.] That’s a big challenge. I think I lose a lot of weight that way.
Hulu: That’s a good way to stay fit.
Aaron: I recently ordered an ice vest, this new technology where you wrap ice around your body and wear it. I’m looking forward to trying that out.
Hulu: How long are you usually in the suit for when you’re filming?
Aaron: It can go upwards of five or six hours at least.
Hulu: That’s got to be pretty intense. When you’re acting — Matt, you’re providing the voice?
Hulu: So, are you usually on set giving line readings and then doing the voice over afterwards? How does that work?
Matt: I do both, yeah. I do the voice live, often. Sometimes that can get tough because we do drop it in during post (production), so you don’t want the live scratch track to bleed into the other audio. That’s a challenge, but I think we’ve got our process down pretty well by now.
Hulu: After three seasons, you must feel like you’ve got a pretty good system going.
Matt: Definitely, yeah.
Hulu: Do you find yourself getting ideas from your audience? Or do you find yourselves solely masterminding it from day to day?
Aaron: For the most part, we come up with all the ideas, but we do get influenced when people suggest something. In fact, the very next new episode of Chad Vader that’s coming out in August is going to have a Storm Trooper in it, and that’s basically because the fans are just like, “when are you going to have other Star Wars characters?” We’ve resisted that up until this point, but there’s an opportunity for us to bring in some other Star Wars characters and there’s another big one that’s going to bring in another big one as well.
Matt: Well, we found a way to integrate it in a way that works for the world that we’ve constructed.
Hulu: So, serving the story rather than serving the fans?
Matt: Exactly, and I think the fans appreciate that. We get lots of great feedback from them, and it helps us keep the show fresh and motivates us to keep going.
Hulu: One of the things I really enjoy about the series is when you do take-offs or parodies of other YouTube videos , like Chad After Dentist or Chad and Obama Girl. How does that work? Do you go to those creators and say “We’ve got an idea, we’d really like to work with you?” What’s that creative process like?
Aaron: A lot of times, if it’s just a YouTube video, like David After Dentist, we say “that would be really funny for Chad,” and then go ahead and just make it. We’ll usually contact them and ask if we can use the footage or idea. But the Obama Girl thing, we actually met Ben Relles (creator of Barely Political). He always wanted to do a collaboration, and we did too, so finally we got an opportunity to do a full-fledged Chad Vader music video, and we went out to New York and shot that with them.
Matt: Well, we had done an Obama Girl video before that —
Matt: So that was our second one. But working with Barely Political and Next New Networks is a lot of fun and we’d like to work with them in the future.
Hulu: Have you see Chad Vader on Hulu? Have you had a chance to compare the audiences and their responses?
Aaron: You know, what I like about Hulu is that people are going there looking for TV-quality entertainment, rather than just sort of a quick laugh. They want a series that they can get into and enjoy watching the characters develop. We see a lot of feedback that relates to that and about how people are enjoying that. We’ve always felt like we’re trying to make a mini-TV show, which is why it’s very cool that we’re on Hulu.
Hulu: Last question: You film locally in Wisconsin. What’s it like filming in the Midwest, and then coming out to a place like Comic-Con, which is part of the more mainstream, where you’ve got everybody from all parts of entertainment coalescing in one place? Do you find that there’s a level of celebrity-ism that you experience here, or do you find yourselves blending in more?
Matt: We tend to blend in. We’re nerds like everybody else here. It’s great being in an environment like this, because it stimulates creativity and gives me a lot of ideas about things we can do once we get back to the studio. It’s a lot of fun, and a great experience.
Watch the latest episode of Chad Vader here.