Martin Hearn recently caught up with Steve Lange to talk about his hilarious musical parody video, Chad! The video premiered at the Twin Peaks UK Festival and has since taken the Twin Peaks community by storm. Take it away Steve!
MH: Chad is absolutely brilliant and such a joy to watch, how and when did you get the idea to do this?
SL: Well thank you, sir. The idea arose when my buddy and fellow Twin Peaks geek, Karl Reinsch, commissioned a song after donating to a fundraiser for an improvised hip-hop comedy show that I created and directed, A Tribe Called Yes. His only stipulation was that it be about Twin Peaks. After considering a hip-hop track and the likelihood of that being a disaster, Chad popped into my head, as he is actually my favourite character from The Return. Growing up on “Weird” Al Yankovic, a “Bad/Fat” parody sprung to mind and almost immediately the last line of the song (And I’ll eat in the conference room when I want, just to tell you once again, who’s Chad) came into my head. I figured I could work off of that.
MH: Every single line of the song is perfection, did you write and sing it all yourself?
SL: I did write all of the lyrics myself, with the exception of the “Wally’s monologue” line which was gifted to me by my good friend Celene Ramadan/Prom Queen, as I was stuck for a line needed to finish the song. We also edited the video together. I did sing the song myself too, with backup vocals from some of my A Tribe Called Yes cast. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but I hope I make up in enthusiasm what I lack in tone and pitch.
MH: You definitely pull it off! Can you tell us about how it became a reality? How long did it take?
SL: I actually recorded the track way back in January, knowing that I might want to make a video afterwards depending on how happy I was with the completed song. It wasn’t until late June when I had the time to produce the video. Filming took place primarily on two days. The first day we bounced around to a whole bunch of actual Peaks locations. I had arranged to have Dirtfish (The Sheriff’s station) for a few hours and for the rest of the day we hit The Salish, Twede’s, JackRabbit’s Palace, Smokey Joe’s, Ronette’s Bridge and the ‘Welcome to Twin Peaks’ sign spot. We just grabbed footage as quickly as we could and moved on, thankfully fellow Peaks geek Amber Sievers was with us to save time, as she knows the most expedient ways to get from place to place. The second day of shooting took place in a Microsoft parking garage I was lucky to be given use of for the day. After that it was just a quick pick-up-shot in the attic of a local theatre that happened to have some prison bars, and then on to the editing process.
MH: Did you have much of a budget for the project, how was it funded?
SL: There really was no budget to speak of. I didn’t want to crowdfund for something so silly and personal, so I just paid out of my own pocket. It really wasn’t much, though. A little money to the nice gentlemen as Dirtfish for chaperoning our visit, dinner at Twede’s for the crew, a little money for mediocre cosplay, and that’s about it. I wanted to keep things as light and fun as possible, and not spending money goes a long way in reducing my personal stress.
MH: Tell us about the casting, obviously I spy a few familiar faces in there, how did you get them involved?
SL: I knew I wanted Amy and Eva Ostbo to play the RR waitresses immediately as I had seen their cosplay before, find them both delightful and know that they are always happy to support the Twin Peaks community. Also, Amy shot her scenes recovering from a concussion from a few days earlier, so there’s that as well. For the group scenes at Microsoft, I just wanted to get as many Twin Peaks fans who wanted to dance in a garage as I could. Luckily I have very supportive friends who came out and lent their time. While I have met so many wonderful Twin Peaks people over the years, I do have a group I consider my Peaks family, so it meant a lot to me that most of those that are local were able to come out. Karl is in there, Marisa Reinsch probably steals the video as the log, and Mary Hutter brought nearly her entire family.
MH: That log is brilliant! All of the costumes were just perfect actually, did you have them made for the video?
SL: Well, I definitely put the Chad costume together for the video, to varying degrees of success. That fuckin’ wig…. Everyone else pretty much had their own stuff already. I asked folks come with Twin Peaks cosplay, even if it wasn’t character specific. It was fine with me if the group of dancers looked more like Twin Peaks archetypes as opposed to all individual characters.
MH: Was it as hilarious to shoot as it was for us to watch? It looks like you all had a lot of fun.
SL: Oh yeah! For me, that’s the whole point. It doesn’t get much better than making movies with your friends, and my only aspiration aside from the fun was to give people a few chuckles when they saw the video, so to make any part of it stressful would have defeated the point entirely. I mean, I got to dress up as Chad and run around Twin Peaks for a day, who wouldn’t love that?
MH: I was lucky enough to see Chad on the big screen at the Twin Peaks UK Festival and the atmosphere in the room afterwards was amazing. That must have been a really proud moment for you?
SL: It certainly was! I figured it would at least lighten the room a bit as most of the other films were of a dramatic nature, but when it received such a warm response it was very very rewarding. I only wanted to bring some laughs to the community, the last thing I’d ever want to do is make something that people either loathed or were offended by.
MH: I think we all got a shock when the real Chad, John Pirruccello, appeared at the end. How did that happen and was he aware of what you were making at the time?
SL: Part of what makes me love the character of Chad so much is John himself. Any fan who has met him will tell you what a genuinely warm, funny guy he is, and I was able to share a magical moment with him and some other fans during the Twin Peaks Fest 2017 as we all sand “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun” on karaoke which morphed into “Chad Just Wants To Have Lunch”. I sent John the song after it was recorded, letting him know that I was hoping to make a video, but would not do so without his blessing (though knowing Showtime might be the only real blockade), as I hoped he would see it was basically a love letter to the character. He was great about it, of course, said he loved it, and to “Go forth and create!” I was then lucky enough to have him film his cameo thanks to TP Fest 2018 where I confirmed with him that the video would indeed be a thing.
MH: What was his reaction the full video?
SL: Of course I was a little sad that he wasn’t able to attend UK Fest as I hoped to unveil it to him there, but I let him know when it went live and he wrote me a very nice message to let me know how much he liked it and appreciated that we put so much effort into an ode to Chad.
MH: Do you think perhaps this could become a series of parody videos or is it very much a one off?
SL: I would love to do more Twin Peaks related videos. I might not do another music video, as I am happy with how Chad turned out and wouldn’t want to cheapen it by making something I wasn’t into. I do have an idea I’ve been wanting to film for a few years now, however, involving a commercial for a coffee company that might just purposefully add something to it’s percolators. I’m going to have to see how much Kiana Lodge charges for a quick rental…
MH: Every fan has a Twin Peaks story, so what’s yours? Have you been a fan since day one?
SL: I watched the series when it originally aired (I was in middle school), though I think I missed a few episodes in the middle of season 2, and obviously my adolescent mind didn’t grasp everything. I continued to be a fan of all things Lynch, but didn’t re-watch the series as an adult until I moved to Chicago in 2001. I didn’t have any friends there at first, so there was a lot of video watching, which included re-watching the series and really finally appreciating all that it offered. A few years later, when mulling over options of where to move to, I decided to visit Seattle as a possibility, knowing that at the very least I could check out some Peaks shooting locations. I’m still here 15 years later! So, in a way, everyone I’ve met here and all the things I’ve done in Seattle I owe to Twin Peaks. I’ve been very lucky to be ushered into the community by my “Peaks mothers” Mary Hutter, Amber Sievers and Anita K. Dunning Rehn, after meeting them while assisting Dana Ashbrook and James Marshall at a fan convention. I feel very fortunate to not only be a part of such a wonderful community, but to have been afforded the opportunity to get to know some of the cast and crew personally.
MH: Are you hoping for more Peaks or would you be satisfied with the ending we got?
SL: While I may have my issues with how season 3 ended, the longer I’m removed from it, the more at peace I am with it. I’m not sure if I could handle the rollercoaster of emotion involved with a new season again. We got more Twin Peaks after 25 years, that alone is a miracle. I am also an actor and actually auditioned for the par of Mickey in season 3 but was not cast, so I especially couldn’t handle another season of my favourite show ever filming in my city and getting passed by…
MH: What’s next for you, do you have any other projects on the horizon?
SL: I am involved with a few different projects at the moment. I’m one of the directors for a genre convention (Crypticon Seattle), and we are busy planning for our 2019 show. I have been lucky enough to bring in Dana, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Kimmy Robertson, Harry Goaz and Carel Struycken in the past, and am hoping to have a few Peaks alum in 2019 as well. Aside from that, I can be seen on stage from time to time improvising with Jet City Improv, and have just begun working on a script for a horror feature I’d like to direct. If you’re interested, you can check out my 1st film Junk Bonds: The Return of Junkbucket, a charmingly offensive Texas Chainsaw satire, on most streaming services or for sale on Blu Ray.
MH: I will definitely be checking that out! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, it’s been a true pleasure.