We are now very close to finally seeing one of the biggest movies of the year, The Rise of Skywalker, where the decade long, nine film Skywalker saga will brought to its conclusion. Fans are excited and anxious in equal measure as they wait to see whether director J.J. Abrams has stuck the landing whilst under such huge pressure. Well, Abrams has been discussing the production of his finale, and has revealed in a recent interview that the script was being rewritten until very late in the day, during its principal production, in fact.
J.J. Abrams and fellow screenwriter Chris Terrio have now stated that scenes were continuously being reworked and rewritten just before they shot them in an attempt to protect the actors from the behind-the-scenes turmoil, with the pair wanting to ensure that everything went according to plan. Essentially, if things were not going as smoothly as possible they would go away, rewrite and come back to it the next day, as Terrio explained.
"It's a war to do a movie like this, and every day you have to get up and go to the front again. And maybe the day before, the battle didn't go so well, but you have to get up with great optimism and enthusiasm to do it again."
Despite this rather startling admission about the commotion that went on behind the curtain, Abrams gave his assurance that it is nothing out of the ordinary to work under such conditions, and that this was in fact the process used when shooting The Force Awakens.
"As we did on 'Force Awakens,' while we're shooting, we're reconsidering things, changing some significant story points going back to ideas that we had loved but put away. That process never stopped. Some people can say, oh, that sounds like it's crazy, but when you have the better idea, it doesn't matter when it is - you have to try it."
Though it may sound quite crazy, and pretty hectic, to be reconsidering things so late in the game, it is not actually that unusual. A movie not having a set script does not necessarily lead to, or even suggest, disaster and though it may be risky, the fact that J.J. Abrams used the same process for his first foray into the Star Wars franchise should help breathe a sigh of relief.
The Rise of Skywalker has a lot of ground to cover and a lot of story to tell, considering this is bringing the entire saga to an end. Picking up a year after the events of The Last Jedi, the movie is set to once again pit the Resistance against the First Order, and conclude the ancient conflict between the Jedi and the Sith.
Will Abrams and Terrio's somewhat haphazard approach pay off? We shall soon see when The Rise of Skywalker is released on December 20. This comes from The New York Times.
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...