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#198. Please enjoy this excerpt of "Documenting the Saga: The Making of the Making of" by Tara Bennett about filmmaker Debs Paterson.
It is a tradition for many that when a major chapter in life comes to a close, the occasion is celebrated in a special way. The release of The Rise of Skywalker in December 2019 not only marked the end of the sequel trilogy that began in 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but also formally brought the epic Skywalker saga to its conclusion. A celebration was therefore definitely in order.
To commemorate this milestone event, Lucasfilm commissioned a feature-length documentary, The Skywalker Legacy, to honor the work that went into making the final installment while also recognizing the themes, characters, and filmmaking ingenuity that began with Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). The result is an engrossing look behind the scenes at the complexities of making a modern blockbuster that skillfully reflects the monumental achievement of 42 years of cinematic storytelling.
Getting to tell that tale was a dream job that landed in the lap of filmmaker and life-long Star Wars fan Debs Paterson. An accomplished director of television drama series in the United Kingdom, Paterson is best known for directing episodes of Strike Back (2018), Harlots (2019), and her feature film debut Africa United (2010). Paterson’s passion for the original trilogy is unambiguous. “I love all three,” she enthuses to Insider, adding, “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them. And I used to read all the novels as a kid.”
The director’s opportunity to take the reins of the documentary came via Michelle Rejwan, Lucasfilm senior vice president of live action and development, who was actively seeking female filmmakers to weave into the overall Star Wars roster of talent, alongside the likes of second unit director Victoria ‘Vic’ Mahoney and stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart, whose sheer enthusiasm provides some standout moments in the documentary. After an initial meeting with executive producer Callum Greene, Paterson admits that she thought little would come from the encounter, yet, “Out of the blue, four months later I got a call from Callum saying, ‘Can you come in for a meeting?’” It was then that the offer to direct the documentary was presented to her.
Green had assessed that her directorial style and personality would mesh well with those of The Rise of Skywalker director, J.J. Abrams, whom she would be shadowing closely for more than a year. Paterson recalls being somewhat wary of taking the project on. “I was very unsure because I’d been directing TV and looking at making more feature films. It seemed like a weird thing to do,” she says. “But then I thought to myself, ‘Look, is there any world ever where you’d regret spending a year working on Star Wars?’ I don’t think so,” she laughs.
Soon after accepting the job, Paterson met with Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to get a sharper sense of what they wanted from the finished documentary. “The thing I felt very clear about from J.J. was that he didn’t want it to be just hero worship,” Paterson says of their initial conversation. “He wasn’t interested in something that was uncritically celebrating famous people. He said to me, ‘There is a tremendous amount of craft that goes into these things, and I want that to be explored, celebrated. Beyond that, I don’t really know. Go make something cool and come back to us.’”
Paterson recalls that she was immediately put at ease by that conversation, along with the discovery that her own career path had been very similar to that of both Abrams and Rejwan, who, like her, had never attended film school. It gave them ample opportunity to bond over their shared, hands-on love for the medium.”
“Each of us was feeling this excitement of telling a story about the passion of learning how to make big movies by making big movies,” Paterson explains. “I’ve loved these kinds of films since I was a kid, but you learn by making shorts, and then you move to whatever budget you’re given next. But how do you then learn the ropes of the big ones without doing one? This documentary felt like a way to share some of that without exposing the magic. And that felt very cool.”
Additionally you can also find the following articles in the new issue hitting stands November 10, 2020.
SNAP! GREG GRUNBERG’S STAR WARS ADVENTURES
The actor who played Temmin “Snap” Wexley speaks exclusively to Insider about his love for everything Star Wars.
From recon flyer to fighter pilot, Temmin “Snap” Wexley admirably served the Resistance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019). Memorably played by Greg Grunberg, Wexley heroically fought in the Battle of Starkiller Base before going out in a blaze of glory above Exegol. Insider catches up with the popular actor to discuss Snap’s dramatic fate, and the impact Star Wars has had on his life.
ELIZABETH GRULLÓN – THE SECOND SISTER
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order introduced fans to a new Inquisitor intent on purging the galaxy of Jedi, but the Second Sister was a far more complex character that we could have possibly imagined. Actor Elizabeth Grullón reflects on her journey to becoming Trilla Suduri, and how joining the Star Wars family has changed her life.
FEEL THE FORCE: THE MOST COMPASSIONATE ACTS IN THE STAR WARS GALAXY REVEALED
Discover the acts of compassion that set the fate of the Star Wars galaxy. Amidst the political and personal conflicts that often take center stage in Star Wars, empathy has always been a central theme. In moments both quiet and seismic, acts of compassion have turned character arcs on their heads.
DOCUMENTING THE SAGA – THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MAKING OF THE SKYWALKER SAGA
“I thought to myself, ‘Look, is there any world ever where you’d regret spending a year working on Star Wars?’ I don’t think so.” – Deb Paterson
Filmmaker Debs Paterson talks to Insider about her unique on-set experiences documenting the production of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) for The Skywalker Legacy – the behind-the-scenes film that takes the making of the Star Wars movies full circle.
A SAGA OF STORYTELLING
A Galaxy of Stories – how to stop worrying and start reading Star Wars.
Since the stars of the Star Wars galaxy were realigned in 2014, a Jedi library’s worth of new novels and stories have been published, expanding the galaxy far, far away beyond its movie and television escapades. There are so many, in fact, that fans wanting to delve into the literary world of Star Wars may find themselves wondering where to start. Ponder no more, potential readers, as Insider has identified several ideal entry points into every era of Star Wars fiction to help you discover a whole new galaxy of adventures.
SNOKE AND MIRRORS – MEET PALPATINE’S PAWNS
Star Wars Insider profiles Palpatine’s top five fall guys, and how each of them ultimately failed the evil Sith Lord!
From Darth Maul to Kylo Ren, by way of Count Dooku, Anakin Skywalker, and Snoke, some of the galaxy’s most fearsome Force-wielders fell under the influence of Sheev Palpatine. As proxies in the one-time chancellor’s unceasing quest for unlimited power, these ambitious villains became putty in the Sith Lord’s boney hands. Insider profiles Palpatine’s top five envoys, examine the reasons they ultimately failed him, and determine who was the Emperor’s number one fall guy.
BEYOND BB-8 – BRYAN HERRING AND DAVE CHAPMAN: FROM PORGS TO LADY PROXIMA
In the second part of Insider’s exclusive interview with puppeteers Brian Herring and Dave Chapman, the duo look back on an amazing five years of life in the Star Wars galaxy, operating creatures, playing stormtroopers, and working with legendary performer Frank Oz.
STAR WARS: RESISTANCE OUR ESSENTIAL EPISODIC GUIDE TO THE SERIES’ FINAL SEASON!
An episode-by-episode guide to the events of Star Wars Resistance Season Two, now available to watch in its entirety on Disney+.
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