Creature and Special Make-up Effects Creative Supervisor Neal Scanlan began his career working on films such as Walt Disney’s Return to Oz, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and the 1986 Oscar-nominated Little Shop of Horrors. A founding member of the Jim Henson Creature Shop, Neal was involved in projects such as Witches, Babe (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects), 101 Dalmatians, The English Patient, and more.
In 2011, Scanlan was asked to head up the Creature and Make-Up FX department for the new series of Star Wars movies. He has worked on every film of the Disney era: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, Solo, and the final episode of the nine-part Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker.
With The Rise of Skywalker now available on Digital HD and hitting 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 31st, I recently got the chance to speak to Scanlan about his work on the film. He discussed the process of creating creatures for the saga, the origins of Babu Frik, and some tantalizing details on a character we didn’t see: The Eye of Webbish Bog.
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Based on various reports – and the official novelization – it’s clear that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker underwent some big changes before it ever hit the big screen. One such change was the removal of a sequence where Kylo Ren visits a creature to learn the location of Darth Vader’s Sith wayfinder. According to Star Wars creature designer Neal Scanlan, the creature – dubbed The Eye of Webbish Bog – was actually built, and the scene was shot.
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On the February 4, 2020 episode of /Film Daily, /Film senior writer Ben Pearson is joined by /Film writer Hoai-Tran Bui to discuss the latest film and TV news, including the favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars, Chris Pratt returning to television, AppleTV+ and Disney+ subscription numbers, and Chris Rock’s Saw reboot getting a title. And in our Feature Presentation, HT will tell us about her experience at the London premiere and junket for WB’s Birds of Prey. Read More »
David Ayer does not make light movies. Ayer’s name is most known to mainstream audiences for Suicide Squad and Bright, but his filmography is mostly hard-hitting crime thrillers. Harsh Times, Street Kings, and End of Watch – they’re Los Angeles crime movies with plenty of brutality, believability, and attention to detail. They feel legitimate, perhaps partly because Ayer is a longtime resident of Los Angeles, having moved to South Central in the ’80s.
This year, there are two more projects from Ayer set in L.A, starting with Fox’s new drama, Deputy. The Stephen Dorff-led cop series is executive produced by Ayer, who directed the pilot and another episode. While the network drama is not as brutal as Ayer’s crime movies, the story, character, and world are very familiar to him. Sometime in 2020, we’ll see another L.A. crime movie from the filmmaker, called The Tax Collector, which he confirmed will hit VOD. The director also told us about his experiences in Los Angeles, working in television versus film, dealing with creative differences, and working with movie stars.
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After 17 years of waiting, we finally got to see the bad boys of Miami grow up with Bad Boys For Life. And it was worth the wait. Without Michael Bay at the helm, the Miami cops actually got to grow a little, have some real heart-to-heart moments, and do and say things we just don’t see in Bay’s movies. Co-directors Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi managed to recharge the franchise and make a sequel both modern and nostalgic.
After the success of Bad Boys for Life, another sequel is already in the works. If all goes according to plan, expect Fallah and El Arbi back to direct. While speaking with the Belgium filmmaking duo behind Black, which is what caught Will Smith and Jerry Bruckheimer‘s attention, they told us about their plan to direct one more sequel. They also told us about making the movie’s massive motorcycle chase scene, paying homage to Bay and the ’90s, and more.
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You can’t talk about the last ten years of movies without talking about Crank: High Voltage, right? The gonzo action pic was one of the most fascinating sequels from recent years, basically taking structure of the first movie but ramping everything up to 200. Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine‘s action movie never holds back, never quiets down, and never stops throwing everything in the kitchen sink. No hijinks or action beat is too silly or wild or grotesque. It is, without question, the pinnacle of Neveldine/Taylor’s filmmaking career together.
Ten years after Crank: High Voltage showed audiences a whole new world, Taylor remains incredibly proud of the movie. It’s only grown crazier over the years, too. How many action movies look and sound like this these days? Not many. The “love it or hate it” experience revels in itself, and it plays by no other movie’s rules than its own. Crank: High Voltage is just an explosion of grim and ridiculous creativity.
To celebrate the film turning ten years old this year, Brian Taylor recently spoke to us about the film.
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Watchmen showed audiences another side of actor Tim Blake Nelson. As Wade Tillman (a.k.a. Looking Glass), Nelson is more imposing than ever before. The reserved cop, to put it mildly, doesn’t need to beat anybody to a pulp to prove or illustrate his immense strength. Look no further than the interrogation scene to see a man in complete control of his surroundings, body, and power.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Nelson’s casting imbued an authenticity to Wade and the setting of Damon Lindelof‘s magnum opus. As a storyteller himself, having directed written and directed several films, including the thinking man’s stoner pic, Leaves of Grass, Nelson is as much in awe of Watchmen‘s storytelling as the rest of us. After the series concluded with answers as exciting as the questions, we spoke to Nelson about his experience working on and watching the show, acting opposite of Regina King, and similarities between Minority Report and Watchmen.
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On the November 29, 2019 episode of /Film Daily, /Film senior writer Ben Pearson is joined by /Film managing editor Jacob Hall to present Jacob’s interview with Rian Johnson, the writer/director of the new murder mystery Knives Out. Read More »
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On the November 28, 2019 episode of /Film Daily, /Film senior writer Ben Pearson introduces an interview from Jack Giroux, /Film’s interviewer-at-large, with Anthony and Joe Russo, the producers of the Chadwick Boseman action thriller 21 Bridges. Read More »
Todd Haynes refuses to give the audience what they want. There are no easy answers or satisfying catharsis in Dark Waters, the Carol director’s true-life legal thriller about a lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) who unearths a decades-long chemical cover-up by one of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations. Instead Dark Waters offers something much more challenging and complex: the drive to keep fighting.
Dark Waters is based on the true story of Robert Bilott, a corporate environmental defense attorney whose firm represented the very chemical company that he would end up waging an 18-year legal battle against. Based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” it sounds like a cut-and-dry legal drama: one that ends with the hero taking down the big corporation, and “the world itself has been solved,” Haynes said, remarking on what we all thought Dark Waters would be when we saw the trailer. But Haynes bucks the expectations that come with the inspirational true-life story and draws more heavily from the paranoid thriller genre — citing films like Silkwood, The Insider, and The Parallax view as inspirations for Dark Waters.
“What I really love about films…[is] they retain that sense of complexity, of an ambiguous process where there is not a single way forward,” Haynes said in an interview with /Film ahead of the release of Dark Waters.
But Ruffalo’s Rob Bilott does move forward. And that is what Haynes found so humanizing about this environmental film about the wide-reaching catastrophic consequences of a corporation whose disposal of toxic chemicals went unregulated for years (and is still unregulated).
“The more the walls of your world start to close in, the more fearful one becomes, the more destabilized, the more cut off from those communities…the sort of psychic cost that all of the subjects go through, I find to be so human,” Haynes said. “And to me that is ultimately more inspiring because that speaks to the complexity of real life.”
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