|STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKERTHE RISE OF SKYWALKERRISE OF SKYWALKERJ.J. ABRAMSSKYWALKERSTAR WARSPREMIERE|
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
Quarantined viewers tuned into Saturday’s all-day, virtual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Summit were treated to a special surprise in the evening when filmmaker and TV titan J.J. Abrams crashed the party as the surprise special guest. He arrived just after his fellow “Star Wars” scribe Tony Gilroy “Rogue One” and the upcoming Cassian Andor series finished his conversation about the craft of screenwriting.
Abrams’ Q&A touched on a range of topics, from the origins of 2015’s “The Force Awakens” to scaling “the mountain,” as he called it, of writing a screenplay, and to the Golden Age of television happening now. It’s an era Abrams helped to launch with his ABC mystery series “Lost.” “I know my role in that. I’m not talking as if I had nothing to do with this,” he said.
“It’s the Golden Age of television, as they call it, even though I don’t know what television really is anymore,” Abrams said. “That’s because huge chances are being taken. Talent that might not have gotten the chance otherwise suddenly have the opportunity. For me, when I watch a show like ‘Atlanta,’ which takes the most spectacular risks in point of view, in genre, structure, and character […] every story has been told, it’s kind of all been done before,” remarking that the FX series tells its stories in unique ways.
Abrams also praised the Emmy-winning Prime Video series “Fleabag,” created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
“You see ‘Fleabag’ and you’re like, well, yes, the fourth wall has been broken [before], but not like that,” he said, referring to the protagonist’s tendency to face the camera and address the audience. “Yes, there have been amazing love stories, and stories of family, but not like that. What I love is the thing that makes you feel like, ‘Oh my god, this is so amazingly specific.'”
Abrams pivoted to discussing Hollywood’s place in a moment dominated by streaming content with originality that far exceeds what’s being reproduced on the big screen. “Hollywood used to be a place where something would happen, there’d be a movie where people would see it and think ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing. Here’s my answer to that,’ or ‘here’s my version,'” he said.
“Hollywood has become a place where, for the most part, studios say, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing. Let’s do that literally again.’ And that’s OK, and I think that will continue, but I really hope that all the writers who are here and others in the guild are as excited as I am about this new opportunity with streaming platforms. How many different stories are going to be...
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? drama Quiz will be revealed to AMC viewers on Sunday May 31.
The network will launch the series, which is produced by The Crown producer Left Bank Pictures and is a co-production with British network ITV, over three weeks with the second and third episodes airing June 7 and June 14 respectively. The full series will be available to binge on AMC Premiere from May 31.
This comes after ITV revealed that it will air the three-part drama on April 13.
Quiz, directed by Stephen Frears A Very English Scandal and written by James Graham Brexit: An Uncivil War, tells the story of how Charles and Diana Ingram attempted an 'audacious heist' on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Major Ingram Matthew Macfadyen, his wife Diana Sian Clifford and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock Michael Jibson, who was sitting in the audience, were accused of cheating their way to a million pounds on the popular game show. The couple stood trial for conspiring by coughing during the recording to signify the correct answers to the multiple-choice questions posed to the Major by host, Chris Tarrant Michael Sheen.
Aisling Bea, star of Hulu's This Way's Up, plays ITV Entertainment boss Claudia Rosencrantz and Catastrophe star Mark Bonnar plays Paul Smith, Chairman of Celador Television and creator of Millionaire.
Creator James Graham told Deadline earlier this year, “It's quite easy to make TV people look pretentious and smug on TV, but that's the trope. They just run around in suits and they're really metropolitan and cutting and smug, and I don't think that's very interesting. So, I tried to humanize them and make them people with vulnerabilities and doubts and uncertainties and desires like everyone else.”
Graham added that one of the things that fascinated him was that he didn't think there were any bad guys in Quiz. “To this day, Paul Smith still believes that they are guilty, and he believes that very passionately. Whether it was the coughing, whether it was something else, he's convinced that people came into the thing that he created, sold around the world, and that these people are trying to destroy that. So, he feels that very keenly. And I think if you represent that honestly and sincerely, then he might be wrong, but he believes it. Similarly, the Ingrams are a normal people who go through this extraordinary story where they're thrown into the limelight. They're made an international laughing stocks, and they're on trial for their freedom. They may get sent to jail if they're found guilty. You try and create three-dimensional people,” he added.
Quiz is produced by Left Bank Pictures and...