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Rogue One: Interview with a Former Production Crew

Now that it’s July, we’re just two weeks away from Star Wars Celebration, and what will surely be a Rogue One extravaganza!

If you can’t wait that long, Stormtrooper Larry interviewed a former film crew member during Rogue One’s initial production last year.

Our low-level source, whom we’ll call “Monty” is low enough in the production hierarchy that he can’t offer any plot leaks or earth-shattering revelations. However, what Monty provides is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what filming the movie was like.

What exactly did you do in Rogue One?

I can’t be more specific, but let’s just say I worked under the Director of Photography.

When did you sign on?

I signed the contract first quarter last year. To get us hyped up for the shoot, they showed a short pre-production clip. It was a slow pan of a green planet, then a TIE fighter entered the frame. As the camera followed the fighter soaring over the planet, the view swiveled up to show the Death Star in the distance!

We understand you can’t tell us any leaks or spoilers about Rogue One.

Yes. When you sign on, there’s a thick Non-Disclosure binder. It basically says to keep mum about the whole project for four years, or else Lucasfilm and Lunak (Heavy Industries Ltd, the production name behind Rogue One) can take legal action against you. Even after filming has wrapped up.

Without spoiling anything, can you share a memorable scene from production?

You know how the prequels got a lot of flak for being full of green-screen? Well in Rogue One it’s really old school. We built a giant sandbox in the backlot (of Pinewood Studios in the UK, where Rogue One was filmed).

All I can say is it’s a beach scene. The actual “sea” part of the beach was shot elsewhere, but the rest of the footage, including a coastal battle, was shot in a heavily cordoned area in Buckinghamshire. We even had to wait for the perfect weather to film that scene. It’s going to be incredible on the big screen.

We also marry practical effects with CGI. For example, there’s a scene that takes place in a rundown urban setting. Think Baghdad or Syria. Instead of using a chroma key backdrop (green screen), we actually built physical store fronts and staged real explosions. The CGI part comes from the units taking part in the battle.

I believe combining old-school props with digital VFX is the best formula. Instead of staring at a green curtain, the cast interacts with physical props. It immerses them in this galaxy far, far away and enables them  to act more convincingly. When the good guys flinch from an explosion, they’re not acting. It’s a real reaction caught on camera. Contrast that with films like  The Jungle Book, which was all green screened inside a soundstage.

For you, what was the best part of production?

Besides being able to put Star Wars on my resume? (Laughs).

Well I wasn’t lucky enough to be part of the camera crew that filmed the beach scene on a tropical island abroad. But I did get to visit RAF Cardington (a historic air base in the UK). We turned this giant hangar into a set, and we did so with great care since it was an airship shed with a history dating back to World War I!

We even used active service members from the RAF and Army Air Corps as extras. I can’t reveal their roles, let’s just say it was a natural fit for them.

And what was the worst part of production, if any?

Well we used an IMAX camera, an Arri Alexa 65. It shot tremendously beautiful footage on ultra widescreen 65mm film in 6k resolution. The large format simply blows away 35mm film. However to do that it needed a LOT of light, and it was a massive pain to set up the gobos and stage lights to get the lighting just right.

It’s also a fairly new camera with a limited selection of lenses. So if we wanted to zoom in, for example, we had to physically move the unit instead of using a zoom lens. The grips (in charge of the dollies and rigging) and the gaffers (in charge of the lights) really earned their pay.

What can you tell us about the reshoots?

There’s nothing much to say that hasn’t been said already.

Most of the film crew is the same, but they had to look for new extras. That was assigned to Twickenham Film Studios, and they put out a casting call last month. We were able to poach the casting director who did Harry Potter, War Horse and Kingdom of Heaven. Since the reshoots will be in Pinewood, anyone interested to be a “moving prop” should have the legal right to work in the UK.

We did have a good laugh when the tabloids said Chris (McQuarrie) was “taking over” the reshoots. There’s such a thing as the Director’s Guild, and one of the basic rules is that there can only be one director per film. There are exceptions when the directors previously worked together like the Wachowski brothers. The Han Solo film belongs in that category since (directors) Phil Lord and Chris Miller co-directed the Lego movie.

Do you know anything about Star Wars Episode VIII?

Nope, totally different production company and film crew. About the only shared resource we have in common is the physical location, Pinewood Studios, and specialist production outfits like the prop makers.

However, the photography crew all winced when we heard their IMAX was damaged during filming in Ireland. If it’s anything like our Alexa unit, it’s going to be rare, expensive and hard to replace, since the cameras are in extremely short supply.

What was it like to work with Gareth Edwards?

I’m low enough on the menu that I didn’t get to work with him personally. My crew reported to Doug Fraser, the director of photography who also did Zero Dark Thirty.

That said, the crews have tremendous respect for Gareth. This is the guy who did Monsters on a tight wallet, with an off-the-shelf Sony EX-3 and a regular Nikon lens. Hell, the rental, transportation and insurance charges of our IMAX camera alone cost more than that movie’s entire budget!

Do you have a message for Star Wars fans?

Star Wars has the magical ability to transport you to a different galaxy.

When you watch Rogue One for the second or third time, look beyond the planets and try to peer behind the scenes. You’ll find that the production process can be even more amazing than the finished film.

The good guys are actually operating out of a historic airship hangar used by the RAF, and that tropical planet is actually the concrete backlot of a studio in Iver Heath!

Monty” would like to greet his wife Mrs. M a happy anniversary. “either in the last month or the next two months.” Not because he forgot the exact date, but because he can’t be more specific.

 

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Rogue One: Mads Mikkelsen Claims Reshoots Seek to “Add and Polish”

In the latest on the Rogue One reshoot drama, cast member Mads Mikkelsen claims the reshoots seek to add more to the film, rather than tone it down as fans fear.

Speaking to the UK daily The Independent, Mikkelsen talked about the Rogue One reshoots, as well his other appearances on a new dark comedy called Men and Chicken, Doctor Strange and Hannibal.

But Stormtrooper Larry doesn’t care about those, so here’s the juicy Rogue One parts from the interview:

There is a lot of talk about the ongoing reshoots, are you involved with them?

I have one day. I can’t remember when, in two weeks I think.

It’s been very mixed in the press, with two sides; some sources are claiming the film will undergo big changes while others are saying it will be very minimal. What’s the feeling you have from being involved with the film?

Basically, all the big films I have done always have reshoots, it is part of their budget. They’re either not super happy with a scene bit, the way we were acting, or maybe there’s something they want to add. It’s not a new thing, it happens with every film. Whether it’s bigger or less, I have no idea, I have nothing to compare with. It’s the same film, it’s just adding little bits here and there to do the final polishing. That’s my feeling.

It’s interesting because, obviously, films get reshot all the time but, for this one, it has been talked about everywhere. 

That’s also interesting, to make the right goal and all the rumours happening. [Disney] love that, it’s free publicity.

You’re in Rogue One, apparently playing a semi-villain who is ‘not a bad guy,’ is there anything you can tell me about the character?

I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say without killing you. I play someone in the film, yes. So far, so good.

So to summarize,

  • Mads will be back in Pinewood for a one-day shoot two weeks from now
  • The reshoots seek to add more to the story, instead of watering down scenes
  • He claims it’s “still the same film”
  • He can’t tell us about his role, after inadvertently revealing that he’s Jyn Erso’s father a while ago.

The rumor is, Mads is not just central character Jyn Erso’s dad in a series of flashbacks, he’s also an Imperial weapons engineer/scientist who refined the original Geonosian design and made the Death Star possible. That explains why Jyn grew up without a father, as well as her rebellious streak. Is it just us, or does Star Wars have a thing for orphaned heroes?

Anyway, the interview is just a teaser excerpt from a longer segment. Expect The Independent to release the full transcript soon, but for die-hard Bothans, these are the parts that matter.

And that’s the latest on the Rogue One reshoot mama-jama.

rogue one death star leak

Who would you rather believe, Mads Mikkelsen and his Disney handlers? Or Stormtrooper Larry who was the actual cause of the Rogue One reshoots?

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked Cuts of Rogue One Before the Reshoot!

Last week, the entire holonet was panicking over rumors that Rogue One was headed for reshoot. Today, we can share the real reason for the controversy: a key cast member is leaving the film.

According to production insiders, a mysterious cast member known only as “Larry” had a pay dispute with studio execs. Disney supposedly cut the celebrity A-lister’s salary and chose to spend it on VFX for “an orange alien with a Jamaican accent”.

Now that Larry has left Rogue One, we can finally share the original cut before Disney’s meddling.

rogue one crew posterThe Rogue crew actually get their name from a mysterious stormtrooper who goes rogue to help the fledgling Rebellion: Stormtrooper FU-1287, aka “Larry”.

rogue one tank trooper“A universe with repulsor technology and they insist on foot patrols. Can’t FUCKING wait for my turn on the tank.”

rogue one bacta tank“Dammit your highness, not again! If you keep peeping with your creepy thugs, I’m switching over to the rebels!”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Ben Mendelsohn) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL“Our holonet transmissions were hacked by a defecting trooper. Find this rogue soldier… and kill him.”

 

rogue one death star leak“A major weapons test is imminent, but Disney ordered a retest of the weapons test. This gives us time to infiltrate it.”

“I just escaped from that fucking death ball Mon Mothma. You seriously expect me to go back?”

rogue one mon mothma“Forgery of imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest.”

“Don’t forget the prostitution and public obscenity in Nar Shadaa.”

running“Why are we (pant) running… K2?”

“Jyn skimped on the tip again.”

rogue one chirrut“Here’s the deal. First one to walk away doesn’t get a katana in the ass. Offer expires in 10 seconds.”

 jyn erso rogue one leak“Shit, it’s a dead end! I got a bad feeling about this.”

“Um… how about we surrender?”

rogue one at-act“I thought you said they were cargo trucks!”

rogue one jyn erso window“Jyn. Promise me you’ll come back.”

“I will. It’s not like Vader will show up or anything.”


Did you know:

  • Tom Hardy, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise all auditioned for Rogue One? In the end, it was Stormtrooper Larry’s convincing performance and rugged good looks that landed the role.
  • Larry’s defection to the Alliance was caused not by his moral conscience, but by the Emperor’s habit of peeping in the Death Star’s shower room every Tuesday.
  • The original ending pitted Darth Vader against Larry, who was armed only with a nightstick, two packs of gum and a used receipt from Watto’s Emporium. Larry bought valuable time for Jyn to transmit the plans, sacrificing his life in the process.
  • Stormtrooper Larry’s identity remains a secret — he never removed his helmet on set, despite co-star Felicity Jones’ repeated attempts to get in his pants.
  • Most of these facts were written while I was stuck in a boring meeting.

We’ll release more original footage from our Rogue One insider, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the REAL Episode 8 photo posted by director Rian Johnson before Disney whitewashed it.

Rogue One Reshoot: Famous Stunt Coordinator Brought Onboard

An exclusive report by The Hollywood Reporter claims that a veteran stunt coordinator is now part of the Rogue One reshoot.

Simon Crane was brought onboard to assist in the reputed 4-week reshoots. The THR report didn’t identify whether he’ll take on the role of stunt coordinator or second unit director.

As the name implies, a stunt coordinator is in charge of casting stuntmen and doubles, as well as choreographing the stunt portions of the film. On the other hand, a second unit director handles the second unit crew that takes supplementary footage, like establishing shots and scene inserts.

Crane got his start as a stuntman for the James Bond films A View to Kill and The Living Daylights, before moving on to become the stunt coordinator for Licence to Kill and Goldeneye. His impressive resume includes doing stuntwork in Aliens, Indiana Jones, Batman and the original Total Recall.

As his Hollywood career grew, Crane was promoted to stunt coordinator for Titanic, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, World War Z and Edge of Tomorrow. He also has experience being the second unit director for The World is Not Enough and Men in Black 3.

simon crane stunt.jpgCrane (right) even appeared as one of the Eurocopter pilots in Goldeneye!

Interestingly, the appointment of Crane coincides with the rumors that Chris McQuarrie is involved in the scriptwriting. McQuarrie also did work on World War Z and Edge of Tomorrow. But since he flatly denied any role in the reshoots, Chris might have recommended Crane for the stunts after having worked with him.

What does this tell us?

  • A famous stunt coordinator with a solid resume was just hired for Rogue One
  • The reshoots could involve new stunt scenes, more than just the “character development” and “talking in cockpits” claim by Entertainment Weekly
  • Even if Crane was hired as second unit director instead of stunt coordinator, his work will likely involve action sequences, just as he did on Tomb Raider and World War Z

The bottom line is, you don’t enlist someone like Crane to shoot quiet character building scenes around the Rebel campfire. Something is definitely up in Pinewood.

Either way, this is exciting news when you hire a guy who can do skydiving, scuba diving, karate, fencing and even gymnastics. It also doesn’t hurt that Crane was 007’s stunt double in The Living Daylights.

Here’s hoping we really do get a gritty, action-packed war movie!

Rogue One: A Deeper Look at the Reshoots

Yesterday, The NY Post broke the news that Rogue One is reportedly in trouble and headed for reshoots. While the piece was full of clickbait and overblown speculation, it did get one fact right: there will be reshoots.

We’ve already determined that cast member Donnie Yen will be flying back to London for what he called “additional photography.” Instead of being merely for promotional material, that turned out to be the reshoot. Today, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed the NY Post story.

In a nutshell:

  • The reshoots are happening in mid-June
  • They were ordered after Disney execs screened the initial cut
  • The execs claim the current cut is “tonally deaf” from what a Star Wars movie is
  • The preview was only screened internally at Disney, and there were no test audiences as reported by NY Post
  • The December 16 release date will push though as planned

rogue one reshoot

Let’s analyze:

The reshoots are happening in mid-June

Rogue One started production in August last year, with principal photography going until February. A June reshoot means they are working hard to fix the movie before Star Wars Celebration Europe, which happens in London on July 15, and Comic Con, which starts on the last week of July.

Historically, these two massive events are marketing goldmines for Disney. And with Rogue One being this year’s offering, the pressure is on to provide a more substantial teaser to one-up the trailer released in April.

If the mid-June shoot stretches several weeks, the cast might even be in London to attend Celebration Europe. Last year’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim was attended by nearly the whole TFA cast, lacking only Harrison Ford and Adam Driver. It was also the first appearance of the First Order stormtroopers and BB-8. Presumably, we should see a similar star-studded appearance by the Rogue One cast to drum up anticipation, and the reshoots could coincide with that.

Disney execs feel the tone is off

From the get-go, Rogue One was being marketed as part gritty war film, part heist movie. Did Disney have a change of heart after viewing the initial cut?

The Hollywood Reporter’s source stated “This is the closest thing to a prequel ever. This takes place just before A New Hope and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins. You have to match the tone!”

This is the first solid confirmation we have that the last moments of Rogue One will lead right into A New Hope. In the supposed panic over the reshoot, it seems that most people missed this relevant intel. So whatever changes that need to be done might have to do with the ending, rather than the story as a whole, to match the style and tone of A New Hope for continuity.

Historically, most of Disney’s live-action movies are four-quadrant attractions. This means they appeal to both sexes, as well as the under-25 and over-25 age demographic. In contrast, a war film generally appeals to a male audience. The source further claims the reshoot seek to add “lightness and brevity” to the finished film. Maybe the current cut is too testosterone-driven, and Disney thinks it lacks the grand epic feel of Star Wars.

But more importantly, the ending itself could be too gritty or tragic, like Saving Private Ryan. What if the whole Rogue One team gave up their lives to transmit the battlestation plans to Princess Leia? Even in their darkest moments, the Star Wars films sought to add hope to the end scene, and the additional shots seek to rectify that. Instead of Jyn and crew gazing into the sunset while dying from their battle wounds, Disney might have ordered a happier ending to hit that four-quadrant sweet spot.

The release date will push through

While the initial NY Post report made it sound all doom and gloom, follow-on reporting by other outlets confirmed that the movie launch is unaffected. Rogue One’s December 16 release stays on target. Even The Force Awakens needed three weeks of extensive reshoots during post-production, and it still launched as planned.

Since Rogue One is the first standalone film, it’s also the first that doesn’t have to follow the Star Wars formula. Fans are already speculating whether there will be an opening crawl, an end-wipe, or the familiar musical score.

forest whitaker rogue one.jpg“If you keep reshooting, what will it become?”

What if Rogue One goes further than that? When it was originally shot, the lead star for the Han Solo film hasn’t been cast. Now that Alden Ehrenreich landed the role, the reshoots could potentially add him as a cameo, or even in a post-credits preview for the next anthology film. The Marvel franchise is famous for its cameos and post-credits surprises. And it also happens to be owned by Disney.

Regardless, we know that director Gareth Edwards and crew will be quite busy in the next few weeks. Whether their hard work pays off will be determined in December. And we can expect to know the full story behind today’s drama by next year.


While the Rogue One squad scrambles, check out the latest update on the Han Solo spinoff!