Empire (UK) - - ON.SCREEN - IL­LUS­TRA­TION jacey

as ROGUE ONE rolls out across the world, we are less than a year away from the next saga in­stal­ment, for the mo­ment known only as

Episode VIII. Af­ter film­ing in Skel­lig Michael (the is­land at the end of The Force Awak­ens), Pinewood, Dubrovnik, Croa­tia and County Cork, prin­ci­pal photography wrapped on 22 July 2016. Although deep in post-pro­duc­tion — John Wil­liams has al­ready started record­ing the score — writer/di­rec­tor Rian John­son took the time to an­swer Em­pire’s burn­ing ques­tions about the cur­rent state of play, the film’s in­flu­ences and his cameo in Rogue One — did you spot him? How are things go­ing on Episode VIII? Great! We’re in the thick of edit­ing, re­ally dig­ging into it. It’s tak­ing shape and I’m very ex­cited. Name three non-star Wars films you watched in prepa­ra­tion. Twelve O’clock High was a big touch­stone, for the feel and look of the aerial com­bat as well as the dy­namic be­tween the pi­lots. Three Out­law Sa­mu­rai for the feel of the sword-fight­ing, and the gen­eral sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to re­watch, for the ro­man­tic scale and grandeur. What are your mem­o­ries of the first day of shoot­ing? Our first day of shoot­ing was ac­tu­ally sev­eral months be­fore prin­ci­pal photography be­gan: we had three days on Skel­lig Michael is­land. So not only was it day one of Star Wars on this in­cred­i­ble nat­u­ral lo­ca­tion, but be­cause the is­land was so in­ac­ces­si­ble it was a very stripped-down, run-and-gun crew. Pretty much the per­fect start to the whole ad­ven­ture. What is the hardest thing about writ­ing Star Wars di­a­logue? I found my­self con­stantly want­ing to push mod­ern id­ioms into the di­a­logue, and some­times that can work, but you have to be very care­ful. If you go too far you can break that Star Wars spell. The other chal­lenge is the tech talk, which has to be si­mul­ta­ne­ously com­plex enough to sound real and conceptually sim­ple enough to fol­low. The orig­i­nal films were bril­liant at that. you played Im­pe­rial Of­fi­cer In fir­ing Cham­ber in Rogue One. What was that ex­pe­ri­ence like? It was so much fun. I was jeal­ous of my pro­ducer Ram [Bergman] — he got to wear the full Daft Punk hel­met. Also it was great be­cause we knew we couldn’t get cut out of the movie! The ONE THING they ab­so­lutely have to do is fire the Death Star! What sur­prised you most about di­rect­ing a Star Wars film? I guess the big­gest sur­prise was the in­ti­macy of the process. It’s huge, sure, and it’s filled with pres­sures great and small. But at the end of the day, it boils down to the same things as the smaller films we’ve made: telling a story we care about with a cam­era and some ac­tors. And a Wook­iee. IAN freer

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