Brought on board for the return of the saga in The Force Awakens, Creature and Special Makeup Effects Supervisor Neal Scanlan has led from the front on 5 Star Wars epics, three as part of the Skywalker Saga and two entries in the Star Wars Story series. As The Rise of Skywalker arrives around the world on home video, he discusses a variety of topics including the trust Abrams had in Scanlan and his team by the time they arrived at the 9th and final episode.
“This was the beginning of a relationship that was right across the board, and that relationship was very quickly rekindled when JJ came to do Skywalker,” Scanlan described. “So we were able to run with him without having to sort of go through any approval stages, there was no lack of trust with him. Certainly JJ had the trust and had confidence in it. So it was less of a proving ground and more of a case of responding quickly and efficiently to JJ’s thought process. Obviously, his thought, he was writing the script in the condensed time, and ideas would come from not only his own world, but maybe from things that he might see would be triggered in other aspects of his work through production.
The biggest challenge I think was to be able to get on the level of crew and keep building in a much, much larger way, yet still hold onto the essence of what we were trying to do. One had to quickly listen to a story idea that JJ may have, and then, if at all, it changed in another direction, often that means to where it’s not so much that there’s going to be a change in the design, but there’s going to be a change in the execution and he’s not going to shoot. He was going to shoot somewhere else and was going to a location or this is changed. So that was the biggest challenge, I think, was being able to adhere, and really keeping your eye on the ball in a sense of being able to manage that and respond to that and still arrive on the day on set, you know, adjust to what JJ expected, just to arrive and be able to execute.”