Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy on 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Development
Over the weekend, Star Wars Celebration Europe, Lucasfilm's new head Kathleen Kennedy revealed that John Williams was definitely returning to score the gestating Star Wars: Episode VII (as the composer seemingly indicated previously). In addition, Kennedy also gave an update on the progress of the film from the story and characters to practical and visual effects. Hitting the nail right on the head, and saying what all fans will be happy to hear, Kennedy said (via IGN), "We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing." More below!
Kennedy added, "The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now." And while she wasn't keen to divulge any information about the characters involved, she went on to talk about the pressure of making something as iconic, exciting and revered as a Star Wars film:
"I do think making huge popular culture – and I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a lot it – is really hard to do and get right. And if you don’t spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they’re seeing the same thing again and again."
Considering many feel the prequels weren't able to live up to level of greatness and quality from the original trilogy, it sounds like Kennedy is being very careful to not tumble into some of the pitfalls that George Lucas could not avoid. One such arena is the abundance of visual effects, as opposed to much of the practical effects that made the original Star Wars trilogy work so well. Kennedy comments on both the valuable nature of those effects and the constantly changing face of technology, and also their preference for real locations and practical effects. The producer says:
"There's nothing more exciting than to be involved in that kind of technological innovation. When the story ideas you're working on contribute to pushing the technology, I really think that's what's so exciting about our business. It's when the imagination drives innovation and new design.
It's a conversation we're having all the time in the development of Episode VII. Looking at all the Star Wars movies and getting a feel for what even some of the early films did, combining real locations and special effects – that's something we're looking very seriously at. So we're going to find some very cool locations that we're going to use in support of Episode VII. And I think we're probably going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox to create the look of these movies."
When asked about what tools she might be talking about, Kennedy responded, "It's using model makers; it's using real droids; it's taking advantage of artwork that you actually can touch and feel. And we want to do that in combination with CG effects. We figure that's what will make it real." The audience response to that detail was more than positive, and you can tell fans are ready to get back to what made the original Star Wars trilogy great. Of course, this is all talk, and fans will have to wait to see how the film turns out until 2015. If you'd like to see Kennedy's full conversation with trilogy star Warwick Davis, watch it right here. Hopefully there's more news on Star Wars: Episode VII coming soon, so stay tuned.