Saturday, July 11, 2015

SDCC 2015: Star Wars Panel Starts With BTS Reel, Ends in Concert

It seems JJ Abrams decided to go with the mantra of "go big or go home" for Friday's Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel at the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). Moderated by Chris Hardwick (Nerdist, @midnight) included Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan (who also wrote Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), new good guys of John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Issac (Poe Dameron) then the bad guys of Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domhall Gleeson (General Hux) and Gwendonline Christie (Captain Phasma). If that wasn't enough, later Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford joined the panel.

During the panel Abrams showed a behind the scenes reel that showed off sets, props, actors (including Simon Pegg playing an alien) and more that teased various aspects of the movie. Usually these reels are never released to the public (for reasons I never understood) but Lucasfilm released that same reel to the public about the same time they showed it at SDCC (1st video below, screenshots here). By most standards that is enough for Star Wars to have won comic con but nope Abrams decided to kick it up a notch by inviting everyone at the panel to a Star Wars concert at the San Diego Symphony that ends in fireworks (3rd video). Below is a summary of key bits from the panel or you can watch the entire panel by clicking the second video below.

- While the movie will have extensive CGI visual effects but whenever possible they tried to create practical props, sets, etc. as "the important thing for us was we made this authentic."
- Hundreds of creatures were built for the film, many just to be background aliens so actors would things to respond to on set.
- Driver on Kylo Ren: "Thinking their right is almost more evil. A group of people who have decided that they’re morally justified in behaving a certain way."
- Christie on Phasma: "I found it not only exciting that there was a female Stormtrooper, but it was the opportunity to explore a female character that is totally not about the way she looks in flesh. That armor is the exterior, and it’s more about the outside feeding in."
- Abrams on taking on Star Wars' legacy: "The only answer I can say is because we love it and we care about it so much, our job is to not be blinded by that. You can just be a fan and say you’re gonna make a movie because you’re a fan… When you’re directing a scene on the Millennium Falcon, it doesn’t make it good. It’s bitchin’ because it’s on the Millennium Falcon, but it doesn’t make it good."
- Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One begins filming in three weeks.
- Base of the First Order (I think referring to Stormtroopers) is called "Starkiller Base", a homage to the original last name of Luke Skywalker.
- Ford commented on themes between the org. trilogy and Ep VII: "I don’t know that it’s a difference of theme. It’s a development of theme, and it’s a natural progression that has occurred from the stories that we told in the first three. Perhaps an emotional rounding of the experience that we all had in the first three films."

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