Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker editor Maryann Brandon reveals she began to piece the film together on-set during production. The culminating chapter of the Skywalker saga hits theaters this December, hoping to end the story on a high note before Lucasfilm looks ahead to a new era. As has become par for the course for the franchise, several plot details are being kept firmly under wraps, but fans have already dissected every frame of the teaser trailer from a couple months ago and recently made their way through Vanity Fair’s mega cover story on the film.
Any film is a massive undertaking to produce, but a Star Wars movie is a tremendous undertaking. Due to the big-budget, spectacle-driven nature of these projects, post-production can take a long time to complete, considering the sheer amount of visual effects shots that need to be rendered before the final picture is locked. Episode IX has been on course for a Christmas 2019 premiere since the fall of 2017 (the film was pushed back after J.J. Abrams took over as director), so the team had to figure out how they were going to get everything done on time. And they found a way to expedite the post-production process.
While speaking at the Script to Screen series at the Carsey-Wolf Center earlier this month (hat tip ComingSoon), Brandon discussed what she did on Star Wars 9. Since the schedule was shorter than what she worked with on The Force Awakens, she had to get creative making up for lost time:
“When we did The Force Awakens, we started in May and we finished shooting in October, and we were out [the following] Christmas. For this film, we didn’t start until August, so we weren’t done until February shooting – so we have four months less time, and it’s a very big film. So I convinced J.J. to let me cut on the set. He was like, ‘No, we never do that’.”
Compared to the other two installments in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker had a tighter schedule. As Brandon notes, The Force Awakens wrapped in October 2014, and The Last Jedi concluded principal photography in July 2016 (nearly a year and a half before the film hit theaters). Nobody is saying that Star Wars 9 is rushed, but losing four months on a movie of this scope can make things difficult. Brandon was simply getting ahead of a potential problem, allowing the team to essentially kill two birds with one stone. Editing on-set had its benefits; Brandon was able to see how the film was coming together as it was being shot, so if she needed any extra material for a scene, she could get it then and there. Ideally, this will help make post-production run more smoothly and minimize the need for reshoots (though there will likely still be some of those, as there are on all tentpoles).
All in all, this reads as a logical and smart decision on the part of Brandon, especially considering there’s still a lot of work left to be done on The Rise of Skywalker. It’s important to keep in mind that Abrams didn’t lock final picture on Force Awakens until November 2015 – one month before the movie came out in theaters (and that’s with four additional months of post-production time). It wouldn’t be out of the question if something similar happened on Star Wars 9, so streamlining the editing process will help a great deal.
Source: Script to Screen (via ComingSoon)