BEHIND “JAR JAR BINKS: THE F! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY” FILMMAKERS

What was the budget and how long did it take you to make it?
Alok: The budget was $1,700 and it took six months shooting off and on during various weekends.
Leif: It would have been far less if we hadn’t changed our initial objective audience. We shot enough footage to make half a feature.

Can you give me a breakdown of a timeline for making the movie, when you came up with the idea, writing the script, production, completion, first screening?
Alok: It took a day to write the script and then a month of pre-production, scouting locations, and auditioning our friends. Luckily our friends are actors. We spent the weekends of January through March shooting and then edited the film in April and May. The first screening was in early June. The film at that time was 26 minutes. Realizing development execs wouldn’t watch anything this long, we cut it down to 11 minutes. Those were some pretty painful cuts.

What problems did you run into during production in terms of keeping that budget so low?
Alok: Well you can imagine that when you have zero budget you have to resort to desperate tactics to get work done: lies, bribery, etc. We were actually quite fortunate to have a group of friends that were happy enough to be paid off in beer and pizza. We had to resort to guerrilla filmmaking. At times we thought we were being followed by police or just had minutes to setup and complete a shot.
Leif: Our DP owned his own Canon XL1. We also had a G4 and non-linear digital editing software. We were basically just paying for the miniDV’s and costumes. Digital production makes filmmaking frighteningly easy. We also had to find props, actors and locations, all for free, often on the spur of the moment. We got a child actor at one such spur of the moment situation. He was really talented and excited to act with a mask on. When we told him the mask was of Jar Jar, his excitement ended there.
Dave: Based on my experience I am now qualified to teach a course on guerrilla filmaking at the Learning Annex. The war is over for me now, but it will always be with me for the rest of my days.

Who was the unlucky sap who had to play Jar Jar? Who did Jar Jar’s voice?
Dave: I was the Phil Hartman of this shoot. I was Jar Jar’s body, his voice as well as a bunch of other characters. There were several near-death experiences with that mask on. I was nearly run over, suffocated, burnt, drowned and fell off a stage, twice. And I had to wear pink tights. You could say I bled for my art, literally.
Alok: Dave might try to tell you that he hated doing the role of Jar Jar, but really deep down, I think he loved it. He had a kind of Talented Mr. Ripley thing going with Jar Jar. “It’s better to be a fake Jar Jar, than a Real Dave Estes.”
Dave: I resent that, but it’s true.

The attention to detail is the reason that I think the film succeeds, how much time did you spend on those little details?
Leif: I had no idea what a huge endeavor this would be. I ended up having to take time off of work to complete the job. There was a ton of post and editing for one person.
Alok: I agree. Sometimes the success of a shot relies on the details. The shot of Jar Jar’s teacher punishing him wouldn’t have had the same impact if the teacher hadn’t had a red bow tie. I drove all over town trying to find that stupid red bow tie.

What are some of the scenes you had to cut?
Leif: Most regretfully the Jack Nicholson parody by actor Zachary Taylor and the Rushmore parody. The elementary school classroom stuff, too. These will be shown on our website in the near future as well as outtakes and more jokes in general.
Dave: There was an alternate ending that had to be cut for time purposes. You’ll be able to see this on the website too.

Were there any jokes in the writing phase where you just thought to yourself, “We’re going too far”? Can you let us in on those thoughts?
Leif: Yes. The on set improvising led to some over the top humor. And, of course, then there was shot of Jar Jar blowing Lucas.
Dave: We originally played with the idea of Jar Jar joining a religious cult named Muppetology, a spoof on a movement started by another sci-fi writer. Then I realized I might someday want to be in a John Travolta film.

What do you think George Lucas’ reaction would be to the film? Ahmed Best?
Leif: I’m sure he will just see us as more stupid fans that need to grow up and have a life. Lucas once predicted that the future of film would come from a few kids with a camera in the basement. We’re those kids. Besides, it’s just a movie anyway. Ahmed Best? Doesn’t he have a rap career? Well, our duty to him I hope is more positive. We want to pick up the slack where Episode I failed. People currently seem to hate Jar Jar. But if we did our job right, we will have created a new, more sympathetic perspective on him. One where people can come away feeling bad for him, feel bad for hating him, and then ultimately love him. Then they’ll buy more toys.
Dave: I think George has a sense of humor. Look how funny Jar Jar was.
Alok: I just want to say that we are not making any money off this film, it’s purely for our own entertainment.

Do you hate Jar Jar? And don’t BS me!
Alok: I Love to Hate him. Listening to Jar Jar speak is like trying to understand a second language. It distracts from the piece as a whole and therefore becomes an annoyance to the fans. I think that people are looking for a scapegoat to explain everything that is wrong in their lives. Jar Jar is that thing.
Leif: No, I don’t hate Jar Jar. He’s like the type of wife beating cousin you’ll still love, yet never want to see his face again.
Dave: I love Jar Jar. And by love I mean despise.

If you could do another E! True Hollywood Story on another character, who would it be and what would be in it?
Leif: If it was a REAL E! True Hollywood Story I’d go for the suggestion that our DP, Brad Booker made, Angelynne. If it was another spoof, H.R. Puf n’ Stuf, all the way.
Dave: I’m not looking to do anymore parodies. I’d like to be a dialogue coach in the porn industry.
Alok: I think I’d like to do a feature length documentary about the sex machine that is Leonard Nimoy. It will be called “That’s Not My Ears You’re Grabbing”.

What’s your goal with this short?
Alok: Exposure, exposure, exposure. We have a lot of funny things a brewin’ and if people can see what we can do with a $1700 budget, just imagine what we can do for $2000.
Leif: The goal is to keep being creative. Take no prisoners.
Dave: More writing work, maybe a little acting, some recognition, and world peace.

If you met George Lucas face to face, what would you say to him?
Dave: Meesa so sorry Mista Lucas!

Check out “Jar Jar Binks: The F! True Hollywood Story” at the Film Threat Shop.




Posted on November 24, 2004 in Interviews by
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