When a director spearheads the resurgence of an all-time great franchise, earns widely positive reviews, and ushers it to record-shattering box office success, that’s probably a person worth learning from. That’s probably what was on the Directors Guild of America’s mind when they invited J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan to discuss their experiences making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, thanks to the DGA (HT: /Film), you can watch the whole talk online. Since the conversation is aimed at industry professionals, there’s no discussion of major story reveals or speculation about the future of the franchise, just a wide-ranging discussion about the process of rebuilding the Star Wars universe from the ground up.
In the wide-ranging chat Kasdan and Abrams discuss the importance of on-set spontaneity, why he values fostering a positive environment during production, how making Star Wars compares to working on other franchises, working with practical effects, and how Harrison Ford’s professionalism dictated the energy on set, and more. Check it out in the video below.
Here’s an index of some of the topics touched on by Abrams and Kasdan:
- Talks about his preparation process and why on-set discovery is his favorite part.
- They talk about the importance of saying less and trusting the audience.
- Abrams on how denial helped him approach the responsibility of directing a Star Wars film and how despite the scale of it they didn’t feel “burdened by the opportunity”
- Abrams talks about how you can never anticipate what will be a production problem on any given day.
- Does he ever find that his perception of a take on the day is different from what he sees later in the editing room?
- Abrams talks about how making Star Wars was different from his previous experiences on major franchises like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible.
- Says it was difference because of his reverence for Star Wars.
- Abrams talks about the meaningful and moving experience of seeing Star Wars for the first time and how he was motivated to recreate that feeling.
- Abrams discusses the decision to shoot as much of the film practically as possible.
- Abrams talks about the excitement of having a female character at the center of the new story.
- Talks about the experience of shooting scenes with all the practical puppets, sets, prosthetics and makeup and how it gave the entire cast and crew the experience to be inside a Star Wars movie.
- Says a lot of the CG was to remove rigs and wires in the background.
- Does he feel like he achieved what he wanted to with The Force Awakens?
- Abrams alks about how he like to get all the heads of production together at the start of the movie and make sure they have their “moral compass” adjusted.
- Why it’s so important to have a good on-set experience not just a good final product.
- Says whoever’s number one on the call sheet sets the tone, and Harrison Ford was so professional and gracious.