How Star Wars: The Force Awakens Is Kicking It Old School

By  · Published on July 12th, 2015


It’s almost impossible to declare one movie as the winner of Comic-Con. That honor not only changes from movie to movie every day, but almost with every panel. This year, maybe only one or two highly anticipated presentations were met with shrugs, while every other panel led to heads exploring on twitter. Most of the footage shown this year was met with the expected “holy shit!” reactions, but if there’s one movie that went beyond that, it’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The buzz from that panel not only lasted minutes, but the whole weekend.

No footage from the movie was shown, only behind-the-scenes clips. The fact that Harrison Ford, J.J. Abrams, and the gang were all there was magical enough, though, and it was only made better by the concert they put on for fans after the panel. Lucasfilm showed the fans they were loved this weekend, and Abrams has certainly earned that enthusiasm, based on this weekend and the last trailer we saw. The Force Awakens looks like a genuine Star Wars movie, with practical effects and real-locations.

At the Production Designer: Architect in Imagination panel, production designer Darren Gilferd discussed Abram’s refreshing and promising approach. “On Star Wars, J.J. was adamant about recapturing the authenticity of A New Hope, Empire, and Jedi – and a part of that meant researching how those movies were made in the 1970s and ‘80s,” Gilferd said. “All those tricks used back then we kind of reverse-engineered them, to use more traditional techniques. J.J. felt it was important to get that vibe and have that feel for Star Wars. I think it was absolutely the right approach. We did a lot of 2D forced perspective on that project. I just watched the behind-the-scenes footage they released last night, and in the corridor shot, we only built about 20feet of corridor, so it was a narrow corridor. I did a 2D forced perspective, and it made the corridor go to infinity. J.J. was so happy, because it was an old school technique, which worked seamlessly and perfectly. We didn’t have to do a complicated visual effects thing.”

This story Gilferd shared should only make Star Wars fans more excited. The production designer worked on Oblivion and TRON: Legacy, so it’s fair to say he has a strong eye for creating fully realized worlds, at least on a visual level. He also did the production design for Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, a movie that, no doubt, helped land him the Star Wars job.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters December 18th, 2015.

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Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.