Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Editor Talks Cutting The Film On Set

We’re just six months away from Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker hitting theaters and fans are naturally excited to see J. J. Abrams return to the fold and wrap up the long-running sequel trilogy as well as the Skywalker Saga. As the movie undergoes post-production, one of the people who gets to see footage everyday is editor Maryann Brandon. In a chat with Matt Ryan, Director of the Pollock Theater, Brandon talked about her experience editing The Rise of Skywalker and how the shortened time frame forced them to cut the film as they shot it.

Episode IX wrapped up its principal photography in February this year, compared to Episode VII – The Force Awakens which was done around a year before release. The lost time meant Brandon was keen to begin editing as soon as she got the footage, a practice not uncommon in today’s times. It had multiple advantages, including the possibility of shooting footage if they realized that they didn’t get the take they need, as well as a chance for Brandon to interact with the cast and crew more closely and getting to know them better.

On this film I got to know the cast really well, I was literally part of the crew so I got to know the gaffers, and obviously I know the DP, I got to know the whole crew. It was really great for me, it was really great to see. I would be watching what they were shooting.  I was cutting what they shot the day before. I had the DP right there to ask questions, he could ask me questions. If I needed a shot, or if JJ and I decided we needed another shot, we would literally set up in the corner and do some green screen shot of something. Getting to know the cast and having them be comfortable with me, it was a really great way to know what they were going for, without even having a big discussion about it.

This sort of just-in-time editing definitely gives the editor and director more flexibility in finalizing and locking down a shot on the set itself. Brandon reckoned that director J. J. Abrams had to be convinced of the process initially but once onboard, they just went with it.

Thus far, Episode IX has given us little to speculate save for a teaser, which itself is cryptically constructed to avoid any reveals. We do know quite a lot of stuff as well; veterans Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams are set to return as Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian, as is Ian McDiarmird as Emperor Palpatine, whose reveal was quite the surprise. The episode should wrap up the ongoing saga neatly before we move on to witness Star Wars films by Rian Johnson as well as Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, both of whom are set to helm their individual trilogies.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker releases in theaters on December 20, 2019. It stars Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Billy Dee Williams, Mark Hamill, Keri Russell, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhall Gleeson and the late Carrie Fisher.