Star Wars Episode VII: The Story Behind The Story So Far

    There has been a rash of reaction on social media to the news coming out of Lucasfilm regarding the evolution of screenwriting duties on Episode VII. Let us put the latest news into some kind of perspective.

    Michael Ardnt was contracted pre-Disney takeover to pen a 40-50 page treatment covering the next trilogy from George Lucas’ concept for the next trilogy. That treatment was strong enough to encourage Disney to make closure on the Lucasfilm deal.

    Why Arndt? He was well respected at Disney due to his writing duties on Toy Story 3, and also with a background hosting talks on the writings of Star Wars. He was the perfect pick.

    The official announcement of Ardnt working on Episode VII came on the 9th November 2012, with the news that “Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas have begun story conferences with Ardnt.”.

    There was never a point that Ardnt was given free reign, it was a collaborative arrangement from day one. By the time the announcement was made, Ardnt had been working with Lucasfilm for four months.

    By the time of J.J. Abrams announcement on the 25th January it was also confirmed that “also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg.”.

    They had been in place for some time before J.J. came on board. Again, the point being the creative aspects of the project was a group collaboration.

    After a year working on the project, at all times meeting in creative writing groups, Ardnt departed in late August / early September with his work effectively done. He had delivered a script that was being used for creative design and development, and with a long line of films seeking his writing skills he sought a fresh challenge. The evolution of his work will continue through Kasdan and Abrams.

    There is no dramatic change of direction, there is no new script being written from scratch. Kasdan and Abrams are getting the credit they deserve for their input to date, and for polishing the script between now and shooting. Ardnt’s story remains intact. We are at an advanced stage in the creative phase. Costumes are being designed, sets are being designed and concept work has begun on the special effects.

    As with many Hollywood press announcements, the decisions and actions were taken some time ago. As of Friday 25th October Kasdan and Abrams are not sitting down thinking, ‘ok what are we going to write about?’ Those calls were made long ago in group consultation, and written by Ardnt. The script is in hand – it is being evolved and will continue to be tweaked until the day of shooting, and then probably during the shoot. That is the life of movie making.

    The high likelihood is that Star Wars Episode VII will end with credits stating a screenplay by Ardnt, Abrams, and Kasdan.

    If you don’t believe that these decisions are long in hand, a month back our own Jedi Master SQL stated that he believed shooting would begin on 24th February 2014. SQL posted on the 9th October that he believes the release date of Episode VII will be 11/11/15, a date designed to appeal to all international dating differences and giving time for any changes.

    Only now do we see the official confirmation that Spring will see the Star Wars live action shoot begin, with release at some point in 2015.

    Also we have a near complete development crew in place.

    • Director Of Photography – Dan Mindel. An Abrams alumni from Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, and Star Trek into Darkness.
    • Production Design – Rick Carter. A Spielberg and Kennedy alumni from The Goonies, through Jurassic Park to Forest Gump to Lincoln.
    • Production Design – Darren Gilford. A James Cameron alumni from the 3D Terminator experimental pieces, more recently known for Oblivion and TRON: Legacy.
    • Costume Design – Michael Kaplan. A Abrams alumni from Star Trek, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Star Trek Into Darkness.
    • Special Effects Supervisor – Chris Corbould. A Lucasfilm alumni from Willow, and a James Bond regular.
    • Sound Designer – Ben Burtt – Every Star Wars film to date.
    • Re-Recording Mixer – Gary Rydstrom – A Skywalker Sound stalwart.
    • Supervising Sound Editor – Matthew Wood – A Skywalker Sound stalwart, and Abrams collabarator.
    • Visual Effects Supervisor – Roger Guyett – An ILM stalwart and Episode III extra.
    • Producers – Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk.
    • Executive Producers – Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin – Abrams alumni.
    • Score – John Williams – Every Star Wars film to date.

    That is a phenomenal crew to have working on Episode VII by any stretch of the imagination.

    And there was one final point made in the press release that everybody seems to have overlooked. The press release confirms for the first time that Pinewood Studios will be the home for Episode VII, as first revealed on Jedi News way back on the 8th May 2013.

    Remember to keep it here on as we bring you all the latest Episode VII news first.

    Team Jedi News
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