If you’ve seen the Star Wars: Squadrons CG short “Hunted” then you know just what an exhilarating thrill-ride it is, ripping us through a dogfight between a TIE Interceptor and a New Republic X-Wing, and if by chance you haven’t seen it, or want to watch it again then fill your boots below.
ILM legend John Knoll, Lucasfilm’s James Waugh and EA’s Neel Upadhye discussed the evolution of the short and why it came to be, one of the key aspects being the care to make sure the short still looked, felt and moved in the Star Wars style.
“When we’re working on the feature films, there’s a style book. A kind of shot-design grammar that we need to adhere to because it’s part of a franchise and you want a consistency there,” Knoll says. “There was an opportunity on this to depart a bit from that. To do shot designs that wouldn’t really fit into the cinematic design of the feature films. Go-Pro mounts and that kind of thing. It was really fun to get into.”
One standout moment is when Varko, left behind by his commander and with his ship damaged, hides among wreckage as an X-wing slowly stalks. It’s a tense sequence that shifts the breakneck pace of “Hunted,” which opens with chases and explosions, to a slower gear.
“I was inspired by World War II submarine movies for that. This idea that you’re so outnumbered that being quiet is the best course of action,” Upadhye says. “The way that allowed us to sculpt the arc of the film by being really quiet for a moment, and every creak is going to expose you… The claustrophobia that the sound design brings out in that sequence was really, really fun. Not to mention that that scene highlights a big ‘what if’ in the Star Wars universe that we haven’t really explored before, which is, what happens if you’re the last TIE fighter on the battlefield?”
Waugh explained the genesis of the project, a child of lockdown that sets the pulse racing just as The Old Republic shorts did a decade or so ago.
Work on “Hunted” began in March 2020, the result of a TIE fighter-sized itch Upadhye wanted to scratch. “As we were getting closer to launch, we felt like we could benefit from doing something big and exciting that would just remind Star Wars fans out there how awesome it is to fly around in an X-wing and an A-wing, and reignite the love for the dogfight fantasy again,” Upadhye says. He pitched the concept of a “dogfight movie” to Ian Frazier, creative director of Squadrons, Jo Berry, senior writer of Squadrons, along with others at EA, and then the Lucasfilm Games team and the Lucasfilm Story Group. Everyone loved it.
“I think we’ve always been powerful believers in the intersection of media,” says Waugh. “More than ever, there’s a sort of porous ecosystem where different media types enhance each other when we’re constructing them holistically. And I truly think that’s one of the strengths of the Star Wars franchise these days. You can experience storytelling in limitless ways, and it all connects, and it all resonates. There’s a moment in this short where an event happens that will be referred to in the game. And I think that sort of enchants the game. If you’ve seen these things collectively, the aggregate effect will be that much more powerful.”
2nd October is the launch date, and watch the skies for Fantha Squadron.
- Master the art of starfighter combat in the authentic piloting experience Star Wars: Squadrons
- Step into cockpits of starfighters from the new republic and Imperial fleets and fight in 5 vs. 5 space battles
- Take control of starfighters such as the X-wing and TIE fighter and customize your load-out and cosmetics
- Learn what it means to be a pilot in a thrilling Star Wars single-player story set after return of the Jedi
- The New Republic fights for freedom. The Empire demands order. We need you to join the galaxy's finest