Get out the camcorder, the cardboard, and the costumes—it’s time to gear up for Swede Fest 17.
The long-running local film event with the funny name will once again take over the Tower Theatre on Dec. 10. As always, this will be an all ages event that is free to the public.
If you’re a filmmaker, or you want to be, Swede Fest submissions are due Dec. 4, which sounds like a long way off, but you know how time flies, especially with the holidays on the horizon. So it’s time to start brainstorming movies and ideas, Spielberg.
Why “Swede Fest” tho
If you’ve never heard of Swede Fest, an explanation is definitely in order.
The name “Swede” and the idea of Sweding comes from the movie “Be Kind, Rewind,” a 2008 film starring Jack Black and Mos Def. In the movie, they work at a video store (LOL) and one day they accidentally erase all the videotapes (LOLOLOL).
The pair tries to reshoot each movie the best they can. They tell video renters that these films look different because they’re special editions from Sweden (hence the name; get it?).
From this movie, the idea of Sweding films was born. Amateur filmmakers recreate their favorite films with no budget using homemade sets and costumes—kinda like what you and your friends did back in 1989 when your dad brought home the family’s first video camera.
Fresno Swede Fest going strong
Fresno’s Swede Fest began in 2008 when two local moviemakers, Roque Rodriguez and Bryan Harley, put out the call for locally made Swedes. From its humble beginnings at art gallery Corridor 2122 in downtown Fresno, Swede Fest has grown exponentially, now filling the 700-seat Tower Theatre. (Events are now held in Palm Beach and Tampa Bay, as well.)
Along the way, its creators have made names for themselves in the Sweding world (as well as a galaxy far, far away). Rodriguez and Harley are known for being a bit extra with their own Swedes, which they post under the name Dumb Drum.
They use cardboard and homemade costumes like everyone else, but their shot-for-shot level of detail sets them apart from the average Sweder. Check out this side-by-side comparison of their Star Wars: The Force Awakens Swede with the official trailer for the film.
Yes, that’s the Dumb Drum crew doing all the music, dialogue, and sound effects. Nice, right?
Their efforts on this Swede garnered Rodriguez and Harley, as well as actors Brandon Jackson and Kia Vassiliades, a trip to Good Morning America where they got to meet Star Wars stars John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. Not too shabby for a couple of local boys with a camera, some cardboard, and a dream.
Your chance to Swede
Not every Swede ends with an invitation to Good Morning America, but it’s still a lot of fun and worth getting your friends together for a weekend to put on some costumes and act silly. I know this from experience, having made a number of Swedes for Swede Fest myself.
So here’s the thing: if I can do this, so can you. The rules per the Swede Fest site are quite simple:
- Keep it under 4 minutes.
- Keep it friendly for all ages. You can swede R-rated movies like “Pulp Fiction,” just find creative ways to get around things like violence, adult language and nekkidness.
- Embrace the amateur nature of sweding… opt to use objects you have around the house rather than spending a lot of money. The real creative genius comes from how your personality and sense of humor shine through. Make these films your own and have fun!
And that’s that. Check out some Swedes from past Swede Fests for inspiration and start planning.
You don’t have to create a Swede to go to Swede Fest; in fact, the more the merrier. You can find the event page for Swede Fest 17 here. Feel free to RSVP. Did I mention that FresYes Realty is a sponsor? Maybe we can get owner Jason Farris into a Swede this year.