Recently, I got the esteem privilege of interviewing one of my all-time favorite YouTubers, content creators, Star Wars lovers, and an all-around amazing guy: STARWARS_IRL.
If you don’t know him, then I implore you to go visit his YouTube channel and follow him on Instagram. He is a really down to earth individual who makes time for his fans. I first found this truly genuine soul when I was looking up live action Star Wars videos on a Saturday. I found him in an Ezra Bridger costume doing a B-twist. I’ve come across some amazing Star Wars fan films and usually the people behind it only made that one video and that’s it. So, I was always on the hunt to find someone who would give me that Star Wars fix consistently. Honestly SWIRL does that, in each one of his videos you can feel the love that he has for Star Wars and that he embraces the teachings of the Force in his day to day life: not to mention his videos are an absolute joy to watch as well. His channel is a plethora of entertainment from his adventure at Galaxy Edge and Star Wars Celebration to his lightsaber skills and deep conversation about Star Wars. I know I rambled on enough, but honestly, I can’t get enough of him: he was so gracious with his time and very friendly when I reached out to him. Due to distance and wanting to respect his time, we came to the agreement of doing a little Q & A, so without further ado I present to you OUR CONVERSATION!
Dairent Beavers: First and foremost, I want to say “Thank You” for taking the time to answer these questions. I know you got so many things going on, so I really appreciate you taking this time out with us.
DB: In your introductory video about your channel, you state that at 5 yrs old your dad got you into Star Wars. Since then have you guys seen all the sequel trilogies in theaters as a family and does, he still loves Star Wars?
SWIRL: Yes! My dad introduced me to the original trilogy at 5 and I was immediately hooked, and he saw that. When I was young, he would tell me stories of how he used to be a starfighter pilot in a past life – the best in the galaxy! Of course, I believed him and so the escapism of Star Wars became that much more real to me. I wanted to become a starfighter pilot like my Dad, and also a Jedi. If space battles were real, then so must the Jedi, right? That love for Star Wars-escapism has followed me to this day, as has our love for the movies. We’ve seen all the movies in theaters except for The Rise of Skywalker, which is my fault. I just haven’t made the time.
DB: I just saw your video of the Clone Wars and I applaud you for being able to sit through every episode over the course of the weekend. I see some sleep deprivation was happening throughout the video (which made it so much fun to watch) and it was really funny seeing you and Dave do the Jager bomb with energy drinks. Do you think you would do a Rebels Binge Watch Weekend with him in the future? I really enjoyed seeing his take on each season and how it changed and evolved each time.
SWIRL: We are ABSOLUTELY doing a Rebels binge-watch in the future! Rebels is my favorite show. I love The Clone Wars, but I love Rebels even more. So yes. Definitely. But I caution against anyone wanting to do the same. After this experience with Dave, I would not suggest forcing your “Star Wars casual” friends to binge these shows. This was tough on Dave. Not just because of the sleep deprivation or the Red Bull crashes, but because this is too much content to consume at once. It’s a new format to watch Star Wars in which takes time to accept, and it introduces tons of new characters, new events, and new concepts about the Force. It got very confusing, and it doesn’t help that these episodes were released in non-chronological order! It wasn’t enough time to accept all of it or to really build relationships with these new characters, which is kind of a shame, but at least I can finally talk to him about Clone Wars. That’s a win!
DB: Are You Ready to see how The Clone Wars ends?
SWIRL: One of my most memorable quotes from Yoda in The Clone Wars is regarding Anakin’s relationship to Ahsoka. It’s when they first meet, and Obi-Wan is wondering whether Anakin is ready for a Padawan: “Ready he is, to teach an apprentice. To let go of his pupil, a greater challenge it will be. Master this, Skywalker must.” Let’s just say this… Like Anakin, I have not mastered letting go. Seeing The Clone Wars come to an end will be rough.
DB: I want to go back in time, last year you went to Star Wars Celebration and you documented your travel and your experience. Did you manage to snag a ticket for this year? Also being that you did it solo last year will you be repeating it and why?
SWIRL: Of course! I was in that virtual queue the moment those tickets went live! I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get “Jedi Master” tickets. They sold old very quickly, but at least I was able to get passes for all 4 days. That’s the most important part. I don’t want to miss a single second of Celebration! And yes, I will be going solo. There’s something about traveling alone that I really love, and that’s that you’re forced to talk to other people and make new friends, instead of staying comfortable inside your own circle. Plus, your plans are completely flexible, so if those new friends invite you to something, you don’t have to confer with anyone. You can do whatever you want. Traveling alone lets you meet new people and experience new things that you never would have otherwise.
DB: So, I saw the teaser for Dume and OMG it was so freaking amazing! The magic that Jetstreak Ink created was astounding. I know you can’t reveal much, and I don’t want any spoilers. What I do want to know is, how did it feel to portray Ezra Bridger? Also, did you do anything to prepare for the role, like strength training or conditioning? How was it on set, being in full costume and really being Ezra?
SWIRL: It’s funny because, apart from the very short take of me in the teaser, I was never technically “on set.” Kiefer contacted me out of the blue saying he was making this thing and asked if I had a green screen. I said, “of course!” (I didn’t really, but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to be in a Star Wars fan film), So I went to the hardware store, bought some green paint, and painted a green screen in my basement. But the reason he asked was because I didn’t live anywhere near him. In order to be in the film, I had to shoot on a green screen so he could essentially cut and paste me into his project. So that’s what we did! There wasn’t any strength and conditioning needed for this role, but it was physical. He wanted footage of a live-action Ezra deflecting blaster fire with a lightsaber, so I had to choreograph a short sequence of me deflecting imaginary blaster fire. After about 20 takes, you can bet that I had gotten my exercise for the day! It was great though. Star Wars has been an escape for me ever since I was a kid, and this was like being a kid again!
DB: What really made you begin your channel?
SWIRL: Money… just kidding. This is actually my second channel. My first channel was devoted to helping people with a game called Jedi Challenges; a really fun AR game with a lightsaber as a controller that essentially lets you be a Jedi in your own living room! It was mainly tutorials and stuff like that. That channel taught me 2 things: that I loved Star Wars way more than I cared to admit, and that I loved making videos. But after branding that channel as ONLY being a helpful resource for that game, I felt very limited in the topics I could cover. I wanted to cover other Star Wars things, not just that game. For a while, I couldn’t decide what that would be, specifically. Everyone had their own “topic” that they stuck to for their channels: Star Wars Theory was all about “theories” at the time; Star Wars Explained was all about the facts. The rest of the channels that I knew about were slight variations or a blend of those two topics, so what would my thing be? Should I talk about theories or facts? Or toys? Or games? Or events? Etc. For the longest time, I couldn’t land on one thing. After a LOT of reflection, I decided that my “thing” would be escapism. Escaping into Star Wars is what brings me happiness, but it’s not about one thing like toys, games, or events: it’s all of that stuff. Anything that exists in the real world and helps me escape into Star Wars brings me happiness. That’s what I wanted to talk about. And rather than try to rebrand my first channel, I chose to start from scratch.
DB: Besides the fans you have amassed and the love you have for Star Wars, what else keeps you going to deliver more content?
SWIRL: I just love making movies, man. I don’t need a channel in order to love and enjoy Star Wars; it’s so much easier to consume than it is to create. I love acting and telling stories with a camera, so it’s the process that keeps me going. Truthfully, I want to direct a Star Wars movie one day. Until then, this channel is practice. That’s why I don’t post more often or more consistently. I try to make every video better than the last, because the more effort I put in now, the better my future Star Wars film will be and the more enjoyment I can bring to other Star Wars fans.
DB: What is your most prized Star Wars possession that you have?
SWIRL: This is a weird answer, but I would say my channel. It’s something I’ve created and poured blood, sweat, tears, time, and money into; I think it’s becoming something that other Star Wars fans enjoy and appreciate. I feel like it adds a lot of value to the community, which brings me a lot of joy. I have a lot of expensive and/or meaningful Star Wars possessions: toys, lightsabers, apparel, video games, gifts from people, posters, artwork, mementos from Star Wars Celebration, and much more. I would be extremely sad if I woke up one day and all those were gone, but I would be broken and inconsolable if my channel were to be taken away from me.
DB: How was your Galaxy Edge experience, now that Rise of Resistance and Smugglers Run is open? Does it feel even more immersive than the first time you went to Batuu?
SWIRL: Absolutely. Being in the Millennium Falcon for “Smuggler’s Run” is a dream come true. The attention to detail on that ship is insane. “Rise of the Resistance” is the most advanced, entertaining, and realistic ride/attraction I’ve ever been on. That’s not really saying much, because I’ve never really been to Disney before this –I went when I was a baby, but that doesn’t count— so I haven’t experienced many attractions like this. That being said, everyone seems to agree that it’s pretty dope. The Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios is the only other ride I’ve experienced that I can (kind of) compare this to, but it still doesn’t even come close to Rise. I cried just at the sheer magnitude of it. Disney and Lucasfilm went above and beyond to make you feel immersed in Star Wars, and they succeeded. Apart from that, it was actually other Star Wars fans that made me feel more immersed than my previous two trips. Let me explain. There were two types of Star Wars fans that attended the opening day of Galaxy’s Edge: Star Wars fans who love Star Wars, and Star Wars fans who hate Star Wars. The Star Wars fans who hate Star Wars think that Disney destroyed Star Wars and went to Galaxy’s Edge on opening day just to see how much of a failure it would be. They saw how terrible everything was and never went back. The only people left are the other Star Wars fans; the ones who still love Star Wars. It’s like the bully left the party –the one nobody likes, but that you still were forced to invite– and we finally started to have some real fun. That’s the vibe I got recently. I only saw people who were happy and grateful that such a place exists. These are the fans who still believe in Star Wars, who still wish it were real, and who can still pretend like they’re actually in Star Wars while they’re there. Being around and pretending to be in Star Wars with those types of fans made the land much more immersive and fun for me, because now there was acceptance; the people around me were acting like this place was real, so now I could too. For example, “Batuu bounding” is a thing now. People dress up in clothes that make them feel like they belong in Star Wars. Also, lightsaber meetups are a regular occurrence. Large groups of people organize at night to take lightsaber photos in front of the Millennium Falcon together. People are even inventing their own games in Batuu. My friend Dan (from “The Dan-O Channel” on YouTube) started the “Batuu hunt” where he hides little things for people to find. People can find things like imperial credits or pieces of Beskar laying around Batuu on ledges, in bushes, etc., and the people who find those prizes get featured in his stories! He also organizes droid meetups as well! Star Wars fans are the best fans in the world and we finally have a real place to live and breathe Star Wars in. I’m so grateful for that.
DB: What has been your best Star Wars video game experience? Including everything from VR to mobile.
SWIRL: Including everything? I would have to say “Secrets of the Empire” by The Void. It’s a few steps above virtual reality, which they call “hyper reality.” Imagine VR, but without controllers. You can walk around and interact with your environment as if you were actually there. If you want to walk down a hallway in VR, you’d have to point your controller up and “teleport” forward. If something hits you in the game, your controllers might vibrate. If you want to pick up and grab something –a blaster, let’s say– you’d have to hold your controller near that object and press and hold the trigger button near your middle finger. It’s terribly awkward at first. In hyper reality, you can just walk down that hallway and pick up that blaster exactly as you would in real life. If something hits you, you feel an impact to your chest thanks to the special vest they make you wear. That stuff literally happens in this game. It’s a 15-minute experience where you play the role of a Rebel infiltrating an Imperial facility on Mustafar. You feel your entire environment shake as you get on a ship and make the jump into hyperspace, you feel heat from the outside conditions on Mustafar, and you smell sulfur from the lava fields. There’s a part where you have to step onto a hover platform that transports you 50 feet in the air with no railings or anything, and I swear to god my fear of heights kicked in; my legs got weak and I had to move into the center of the platform, away from the edges. You walk down some hallways, you pick up an actual blaster, you shoot at stormtroopers, you hack door panels, and there’s even a surprise at the end that literally made me fear for my life. My favorite part? It’s collaborative. You can play with your friends and interact with them in-game. It’s the most incredible game I’ve ever experienced. In fact, the first time I tried it, I hopped back in line and played it again 6 more times. It’s the ULTIMATE game for escaping into Star Wars and makes me very excited for the future of gaming.
DB: Last and final question: What would you like to see in future Star Wars films, tv shows, books, anything? Heart desires.
SWIRL: The search for Ezra Bridger.