Things have never been perfect over at Lucasfilm. While the first two films that have hit in recent memory (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) turned out incredibly well, both had their minor issues behind the scenes. J.J. Abrams had to push back the initial overzealous release date of The Force Awakens, and for Rogue One, Gareth Edwards was relegated to the backseat when Tony Gilroy took charge of directing the reshoots. Thus far, the only film that seems to have gone through the process scot-free has been the currently-unreleased Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The latest film to have such issues has been the untitled Han Solo film, which just sacked its two directors — Phil Lord and Chris Miller — and replaced them with Inferno’s Ron Howard. The problems with Lord and Miller, it seems, stemmed from a fundamental disagreement on how to treat the beloved Han Solo, but according to THR, it goes deeper than that.
The pair were reportedly having trouble scaling their style to the scope of the film they were working on. As has already been reported, the pair are very dependent on an improvisational style of filmmaking. This resulted in slow days. For example, on a particular day, the film was scheduled to have 12 to 15 different camera setups, and the outlet’s sources claimed that Lord and Miller were only able to accomplish two to three of them, with the footage they provided not giving them a whole lot of options for the editing room.
While their style of directing worked in the other films they’d done, it didn’t fly so well when you had hundreds of crew members waiting for them to make decisions. Apparently, the pair were either unwilling or unable to change their style to accommodate this new challenge. Here’s what one of THR’s sources had to say:
“You have to make decisions much earlier than what they’re used to. I don’t know if it’s because there were two of them but they were not decisive.”
What’s worse is that there were also concerns revolving around the leading man, Alden Ehrenreich, so much so that Lucasfilm brought on an acting coach for him. Sadly, that didn’t do a whole lot to get production on track, and it seemed to have been more to do with the directors than actor, the former of whom would call out lines from behind camera, changing a supposedly stellar script on the fly.
On the flip side, Lord and Miller were frustrated in getting “zero creative freedom” and were force to operate under “extreme scheduling constraints.”
Obviously, things reached a head, and they had to change helmers.
So what’s the problem here? It may very well be a systemic one at Lucasfilm. It seems to us that it may stem between the heads over there having trouble understanding what kind of studio they want to be. Do they want to be a filmmaker-driven one that has faith in their directors? Their risky choices in Josh Trank, Gareth Edwards, and Lord and Miller would seem to indicate so. The problem is, while they’ve hired those directors, in every instance so far, they’ve had to take pains to either replace them or back-burner the project altogether.
It seems to us that Lucasfilm has tried their hands at letting directors with unique visions take the helm, only to realize that wasn’t what they wanted to begin with. It’s very possible that the studio already knows what they want, and really want a director to take orders and carry out their vision. Now, that’s not to say they want to control everything. On the contrary, they realize that having a director with a vision is important to a quality of a film. It’s less of an instance of hiring a director with a unique vision, and more an instance of hiring one whose vision is directly in line with what they want to see from the flick.
Filmmaking is a messy process, so we can’t say for sure if this is good or bad — so long as the movies turn out great, it doesn’t matter — it may be important for Lucasfilm to understand sooner than later if taking these risks on this big a scale is worth it for them. Can they afford to keep changing course mid-production due to untested talent going awry?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments down below!