A Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (opens in new tab) editor recently opened up about the truncated editing process, and how that put a strain on J.J. Abrams and the entire film's production.
Maryann Brandon, who's collaborated with Abrams on most of his projects (including Alias, Star Trek, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (opens in new tab)), sat down with the Rough Cut podcast (opens in new tab) and opened up about the production process.
Brandon estimates the crew had three months less production time for The Rise of Skywalker than they did on The Force Awakens (for reference, she believes the team on The Last Jedi (opens in new tab) finished the film five months ahead of schedule). "It's a struggle. It affected everything, obviously - the script, the art department, everyone in prep," she points out, "About a third of the way through, Kathy [Kennedy] was like, 'J.J. has got to spend more time in the cutting room.' And I knew that just wasn't going to happen. Not with the schedule that we were on. Not with what he was dealing with on a daily basis...he was just exhausted at the end of the day." Brandon had a solution though - she suggested she cut on-set, inside a tent, almost always within 10 feet of Abrams.
It was an unorthodox solution, one that Abrams initially balked at, telling Brandon, "We don't do it this way, Maryanne." Brandon says she replied, "we don't really have a choice," and they moved forward with the idea, cutting on-set from the production tent and reviewing scenes in-between takes. "It was amazing, it was fantastic," Brandon laughs. She maintains that the unusual production process actually boosted the confidence for Abrams and crew, and they'll likely adopt that approach in the future. However, she also mentions that they were "definitely still trying to figure out a lot of stuff" before the deadline, which was the Monday before Thanksgiving.
However, the new editing method isn't what fans and critics focus on when they discuss The Rise of Skywalker, which has been as polarizing as the dueling sides of the Force. Brandon believes the polarization is unnecessary, saying, "In a time when the world is so polarized, it's not a film that should be polarizing." But does she think the finale is full of fan service, as some have suggested? "Look, sure, it's fan service and if you didn't service the fans, it would be, 'Oh, he didn't go along with the history of Star Wars or what it all means," she says, before adding that it was a "no-win" situation.
No doubt this will add fuel to the fire, with some critics and fans suggesting Episode 9 burned the Skywalker saga the same way Yoda burned the sacred Jedi texts.
We're not going to tell you how to feel about the ending of the Skywalker saga, but we will tell you our best Star Wars movies, ranked. (opens in new tab)