Why Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘s Editor was on set

When J.J. Abrams stepped back into the director’s chair for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he had many daunting obstacles ahead. One was the fact that he was stepping in fairly late in the process—Colin Trevorrow was initially meant to helm the film. Another challenge was the sheer burden of taking on the very last film in the epic, 9-part Skywalker saga. How will the story deal with Rey (Daisy Ridley)’s parentage? Will the ending satisfy hardcore fans of the original trilogy, resulting in a cathartic conclusion to the franchise? Yet to even attempt to answer these and many other questions, Abrams had a third, and likely most pressing hurdle—the fact that The Rise of Skywalker was on a much tighter timeline than Abrams had when directing The Force Awakens. In fact, they had four fewer months to get The Rise of Skywalker done, a fairly massive amount of time to lose. In a new interview with Express (h/t Collider), editor Maryann Brandon explained that in order to help Abrams with the expedited schedule, she convinced him to let her edit the film on set.

This is not an editor’s usual method. While an editor begins working on a film, they do so by taking the dailies from each day on set and shaping those into a rough cut for the director to review. For The Rise of Skywalker, Brandon was on set watching what they were filming, while cutting what was shot the previous day. Abrams eventually became very used to Brandon being there and started relying on her.

“He got so used to it that he was like, ‘you need to be less than ten feet away from me at all times, so if the camera would move 10 feet, I would move 10 feet,” she told Express. “I watched what they were shooting, I was cutting what they were shooting the day before.”

Brandon was able to ask cinematographer Dan Mindel questions and work with JJ if they needed to set up an extra shot. Having the editor on set to help envision how all this footage will actually cohere turns out to be very advantageous.

This unusual but ultimately necessary method was not only a boon for Abrams and the rest of the team, but it also gave Brandon a chance to get to know what it actually feels like on set to take on a film this massive.

“Getting to know the cast and having them be comfortable with me, it was a really great way to understand what they were going through.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 19, 2019.

Featured image: (Left to right( Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), BB-8, D-O, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX


Bryan Abrams

Bryan Abrams is the Editor-in-chief of The Credits. He's run the site since its launch in 2012. He lives in New York.