It’s been a big weekend for ‘Star Wars’ fans at Celebration Europe.
The annual ‘Star Wars’ event has given us a new ‘Rogue One’ trailer, the official announcement that Alden Ehrenreich will be Han Solo, and even a few teasery hints at what might happen in the future of the ‘Star Wars’ saga.
But what about ‘Star Wars 8’?
Although many ‘Star Wars’ fans had expected a title reveal, it looks as though that particular nugget of info is being kept firmly under wraps. But there was still plenty to find out about the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ sequel.
Here’s what we learned about ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’:
Star Wars 8 Developed During Star Wars 7 Shooting
That’s right – ‘Star Wars 8’ was being developed by Rian Johnson while J.J. Abrams was still filming ‘The Force Awakens’. It’s not exactly a huge surprise… after all, with a new ‘Star Wars’ film each year, the turnaround is pretty quick.
But it’s interesting to hear how the directors are interacting.
“They were still shooting [‘The Force Awakens’] here in London,” said director Rian Johnson. “They were still shooting ‘Episode VII’ so yeah. I was thinking about that today because Colin [Trevorrow] is doing the same thing while we’re in production with ‘Episode VIII’ where he’s starting to think about ‘IX’.”
Of course, Colin Trevorrow will direct ‘Star Wars 9’… and it looks as though the ‘Star Wars’ production line has really hit its stride when it comes to the saga movies. Surely that’s a great thing for the franchise?
“One of the first things I did was went up to San Francisco and spent about six weeks figuring out this story,” said Johnson. “I would go in a few times a week and sit down with these guys on the Story Group and just hash it through. We would watch dailies that were coming in from ‘Episode VII’.”
“It was probably really healthy in thinking about where the story goes next,” he added. “It was just a very personal… what did we connect with, with these characters and where do they go next.”
Star Wars 8 Starts Where The Force Awakens Ends
It looks as though we’ll be heading right back to Skellig Michael…
‘The Force Awakens’ ended with Rey heading off on her mission to find Luke Skywalker… offering him his old lightsaber before the scene cut to credits. But now it seems we’ll finally find out what happens next.
“I wanted to break a long-standing ‘Star Wars’ tradition,” said Johnson. “And for the first time, this movie is going to start right were the last one left off. It’s like – I don’t want to skip ahead. That last moment in VII, I want to see what happens next.”
“And so, because of the demands of the story, that’s what it ended up being,” he added. “Which meant that we went back to Skellig and we were only able to get a couple of days shooting there. It was months before we started principal photography so it was really the first stuff that we did.”
Carrie Fisher’s Daughter Billie Lourd Is Back
After appearing in ‘The Force Awakens’ it looks as though Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd is back in ‘Star Wars 8’.
And rumours suggest she’s getting a much larger role.
“You realise, as you do these films, how important the background players are,” said Johnson. “And you realise how deeply embedded they are from the original films in your head… and you start paying more and more attention to them as you’re directing.”
“That’s Billie Lourd, Carrie’s daughter,” he said, pointing her out in a set picture.
But what does that mean?
Her role in ‘The Force Awakens’ was fairly small… but it’s said that her character, Resistance fighter Kaydel Ko Connix, will have a much larger role to play in ‘Star Wars 8’.
These Classic Movies Inspired Star Wars 8
“We began a ‘film camp’ so to speak,” said Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group. “Rian assembled movies that he thought were important for us to watch and understand his point of view about them so that we had this common language.”
But what did those titles include?
“It was ‘Twelve ‘O Clock High’,” he said. “It was ‘Letter Never Sent’, it was… what else did we watch? ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, ‘Three Outlaw Samurai’. But no, it’s funny actually, now being just at the end of production and going through looking at the film we’re putting together and, particularly ‘Twelve ‘O Clock High’, seeing that a lot of that made it in there.”
Other titles on their list included ‘Gunga Din’ and the 1943 ‘Sahara’.
Clearly, a lot of war stories here… and it sounds as though Rian Johnson is really looking to emphasise the ‘war’ in ‘Star Wars’. But quite how these films affect the final movie remains to be seen.
Star Wars 8 Goes Deeper Into The New Characters
Let’s face it – we still know very little about the new ‘Star Wars’ characters.
Finn’s background as a Stormtrooper is yet to be explored, we know almost nothing of Poe Dameron’s pre-Resistance life and Rey’s background is a complete and utter mystery. But it looks as though ‘Star Wars 8’ might shed some light on that.
“[The] second film is where we start zooming in on the characters and really getting to the heart of them, challenging them, and pushing them deeper,” said Johnson. “I think the actors were all very excited about that.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’ll find out all their secrets… but we’ll certainly begin to understand them a bit better. And that’s likely going to lead to some key moments with some of our favourite new ‘Star Wars’ characters.
Let’s just hope Rey finally gets some answers…
Practical Effects Are Still Key In Star Wars 8
It’s no secret that ‘The Force Awakens’ used a lot of practical effects.
In fact, it’s the film’s attempt to mimic the classic ‘Star Wars’ film making techniques which gave it such a great aesthetic quality. And while Rian Johnson is admittedly using plenty of digital techniques, it looks as though he’s also delving into practical film making in a big way.
“I know for a lot of the stuff I’ve posted [online], a lot of it is green screen in the background and I mean, not to put down green screen – it’s a great tool – but I’ve just not wanted to give anything away,” he said. “But I just want to let everyone know that the amount of sets that we’ve built for this movie has been absolutely outrageous. A tremendous amount of practical sets.”
And it sounds as though he’s really taken it to the next level.
“We also had the luxury of doing things like this where we built exterior/interior sets for some of the ships so that we would not only be able to film inside them, but also do shots from the outside that weren’t just window comps.”
Dave Filoni Visited The Star Wars 8 Set
Most hardcore ‘Star Wars’ fans will know who Dave Filoni is – director of ‘Star Wars Rebels’ and ‘The Clone Wars’ TV shows, Filoni has expanded the ‘Star Wars’ universe in many, many ways.
But now it looks as though he had a hand in developing ‘Star Wars 8’.
“I was very happy to have the man in the cowboy hat come out to visit several times and spend some time on set,” said Johnson. “You just immediately feel calm and at peace when Dave Filoni is standing back behind you – you feel like everything is gonna be okay.”
Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo expanded on this, explaining that Dave Filoni was made available to Rian Johnson in order to help out with ‘Star Wars 8’.
But in what capacity? We’re not entirely sure…
“It was nice – that time I talked about when I was in San Francisco, Gareth [Edwards] was there and they were coming up with ‘Rogue One’ right down the hall, working on ‘Rogue’ and they would come down and say hi… Dave was doing ‘Star Wars Rebels’ right there in the Presidio and it had this campus feel that was pretty cool.”
Finn ISN’T In A Coma For The Entire Film
It’s official – Finn won’t be in a coma for the duration of ‘Star Wars 8’.
Of course, we were never expecting him to be… but after crashing the panel, ‘The Force Awakens’ star, John Boyega confirmed that he wouldn’t be confined to a stretcher for the upcoming sequel.
“Mmhmmm, yeah,” he confirmed when asked if he would get to walk around. “The story is very, very interesting,” he added. “It’s very interesting to just keep this secret.”
But it could have been oh so different…
“We did at some point joke that it would be great to just have him be in a coma the whole time,” laughed director Rian Johnson. “That we keep just cutting back to him and it’s just like…”
Thankfully, it sounds as though Finn gets back on his feet fairly quickly.
But what did he think of working on ‘Star Wars 8’ with new director, Rian Johnson?
“Rian is awesome,” said Boyega. “Rian is awesome. I always like to say that he’s doing an indie movie within a studio franchise. The characters have been pushed in a new direction, in a very, very cool way. And we’re having fun. We’re really having fun.”
“It feels like ‘Star Wars’ but at the same time, we have a new director to lead us on an interesting path.”
‘Star Wars 8’ heads to cinemas on 17 December 2017.
Picture Credit: Lucasfilm