Doug Chiang Interview

Canoe.ca interviewed prequel and TFA visual director Doug Chiang who had some really interesting things to say about George Lucas and carrying on Star Wars without him:

“It’s very demanding. It’s very hard,” said Chiang, who now serves as vice president and executive creative director at Lucasfilm. “We’re still trying to figure out, what is Star Wars? Without George, it’s a very tough challenge.

“We all think we know what it is, but really, Star Wars is George. George is the only person who really knows it very well. We’re all trying to create something in his playground, but it’s his playground.”

Check out the rest here.

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30 Responses to “Doug Chiang Interview”

  1. Dawn Says:

    “Star Wars *is* George”….”George is the only person who really knows it very well”….”it’s his playground”. *sniffle* I can’t be the only one crying a bit, feeling all wistful-like, over here….!

  2. BansheeGun Says:

    He makes a very good point. JJ can claim to be the ultimate fan and we should 100% trust him but, in the end, he really has no idea. I guess that applies to Disney too.

  3. Kathryn “LadyJediScientist” S. Says:

    JJ maybe the ultimate fan, but he is just that- a fan. He isn’t the author of the work and he can’t know this universe as well as The Maker – George- does.
    I am glad at least somebody at the company recognizes this fact and actually said it out loud. I MISS GEORGE!

  4. Adam D. Bram (The Nilbog) Says:

    I just hung a bunch of Chaings in my office at work: Sacred Place, Anakin’s Podracer, Droids on Staps, Theed Palace, and Maul with Infiltrator.

  5. peacetrainjedi Says:

    This…brings warm feelings to my heart. I am extremely glad Chiang is involved in TFA.

  6. Bob Clark Says:

    Chiang is still the only reason I’m remotely prepared to step into the theater to see TFA. He gets it. Add him to the list of (wholly unrealistic) candidated for who I wish were directing the ST.

  7. blade57hrc Says:

    What everyone above said…Where’s the like button…?

  8. yellow12 Says:

    Check Wendig’s twitter … I just lost it at Jedi Council Forums .

    • madmediaman Says:

      Don’t bother with him. He really has no clue what Lucas was even doing with the films… especially Sith. The fact that he has “narrative difficulties” with the Prequels tells me he simply doesn’t understand myth at a very core level. He probably has some casual understanding (took some classes) and like most hipsters thinks he “gets it”.”

      I’ve read some of his work, and he is a solid author, but there’s nothing in his previous work which tells me he understands the Saga in the least. His work is fairly dark, and very post-modern… we’ll see. But the fact that he takes so much to Twitter and spends so much time essentially trolling fans, especially Prequel fans tells me he’s a fairly unlikable character, and I really have no interest in what he has to say about the Saga, or in Aftermath.

      • yellow12 Says:

        Glad that you understand because I thought I was the only one who was wrong with his statements.(WTF plot is really getting on my nerves , do you have to be a genius to understand AOTC’s plot ? )

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Oh yeah. Saw it earlier on the Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy FB page, then read the whole thread on Wendig’s Twitter. *Sigh.* Maybe I will corner one of the story group or hit up a book panel after all.

      • yellow12 Says:

        The whole absurd with Wendig led me to a conversation about Anakin’s Tusken Slaughter on JCF.
        Anyway I cannot understand how Disney wants to have fans and puts people in charge like this.
        Does he have another opinion ? Fine. But
        he alienates us Saga fans and he represents Lucasfilm so he should be more mature IMO.
        (Would they even hire someone who disagreed with things in Episodes IV-VI ? Highly doubt it.)

      • lazypadawan Says:

        Your last sentence hits the nail on the head.

      • madmediaman Says:

        It takes a special kind of stupid to willfully ignore what is going on in the Anakin/Padme post Tusken slaughter scene. It is so blatantly Anakin confessing his sins and Padme absolving him since he’s “only human.”

        Frankly it goes deeper than that… it’s a fallen man seeking forgiveness and asking Mary to absolve him… just look at the outfit she’s wearing. It’s a profoundly religious theme. But if you’re caught up in the hipster/geek lifestyle you probably wont catch it… like Wendig.

        I really have a hard time believing Lucasfilm has a hard time finding people who “get it.” Heck, I’d work gratis just for a shot to fix some of the nonsense I know is coming down the pipeline.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        I’d say that atheists tend to miss Christian allegories like that one but then again, I know atheists who have picked up on them.

      • yellow12 Says:

        Exactly Gallandro !
        Is it so hard to find someone as Lucas or Filoni ?

      • Bob Clark Says:

        I think a lot of OT fans are just plain not interested in the mythological themes. Look at that stupid “Dear JJ Abrams” video, which reduced SW to being simply “A Western”. Really? So, it’s not a WWII movie, too? Or a Samurai movie? And if it really is just a Western, what type? Your standard, conservative John Ford type of Western? Or maybe a Spaghetti-Western like one of Sergio Leone’s? Exactly how small do you want to make “Star Wars”?

      • Tony Ferris Says:

        Small enough that little effort is required by the viewer. Just sardonic quips and lots of kick-‘splode please. Maybe a touch of the spiritual, but nothing too deep, we’re only looking for colour here…

  9. M. Marshall Says:

    Sounds like a mess over at Lucasfilm. Chickens without heads.

  10. James Says:

    So true, without George it feels star wars is not quite alive as it once was, this is one of the reasons I never realy got into the EU, they got some interesting stories but they dont got the same star wars pizzaz, even when he gives his approval of a prodject it just feels… fanmade. I rather like Rebels and some of the other works coming out now but not with the same vigor of the saga and TCW Hes one of of (but not the only) reasons I love 123 the way I do It just feels more like star wars with him at the helm. They are clearly trying but the differences are still there.

    • Tony Ferris Says:

      Haven’t watched any of Rebels yet, though Filoni gets Star Wars so I expect it’s got something going for it.

      Star Wars though, is so much the personal expression of George Lucas, that something can’t help but be lost as it gets transformed into a studio franchise. Those movies might turn out to be entertaining, but they simply won’t have the ‘feel’…

  11. Stefan Kraft Says:

    Didn’t Camille Paglia state it will take a while until new movie makers will tell stories as rich as Lucas’s, but the time will finally come? Maybe this will happen sooner than later. We’ll see how the new movies turn out.

    Anyway, I agree with the statements here: I think that GL always wanted to add something “more” to SW and to give it a new direction. Consider ESB, which was not “Star Wars II”, or of course the prequels. You could say that GL was willing to “take the risk” and expand on the existing movies and not just repeat the old formulas.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      She compared it to “The Iliad” inspiring a bunch of mediocre spinoffs and knockoffs for centuries until Virgil’s “Aeneid.” I hope it doesn’t take that long!

      • Tony Ferris Says:

        For that to happen, I think we’re going to need wider recognition of Lucas’s intentions and true achievements. It feels like we might be heading in the right direction, but we’re still a long way from that.

        I wouldn’t hold my breath to be honest.

      • Jim Raynor Says:

        It’s still frustrating how many of the themes and nuances of characterization have been lost on the fanboy audience, who alternately dismiss the prequels as inscrutably complex, or a heartless CGI moneymaker with no substance.

        I’ve mentioned it here before, but the current day Hollywood hype machine practically immunizes movies from that kind of attack. Avengers: Age of Ultron hasn’t even come out yet, and I already have the gist of what Joss Whedon is trying to accomplish with the movie and several of the characters. I’ll probably “get” his intentions right away, even though I’ve avoided any explicit spoilers.

        Filmmakers shouldn’t have to explain and spoon feed their messages to the audience, and George Lucas shouldn’t be faulted for not doing so. It’s just unfortunate that he hasn’t, since it’s empowered the aggressively anti-intellectual fandom thst Star Wars has accumulated. The people who forever want the franchise to be no more than the rollicking adventure they perceived when they were 7 years old, who boil down the essence of the saga into superficial memes (“practical effects,” “Western,” etc), and who shut their brains down at the briefest mention of anything beyond fairy tale level (the continual griping over a few sentences on the “taxation of trade routes” after 16 years).

  12. Keith Palmer Says:

    There was another interview with Doug Chiang in my regional newspaper today; it has something to do with the “Digital Edition” release. Normally, I’m underwhelmed by the Star Wars coverage in that newspaper; its movie critic seems stuck in a familiar “original veneration/prequel dismissal” rut. However, even though he led off one quote with Jar Jar bashing, Chiang did manage to make an interesting comment in it:

    “So he actually was OK with that (the blowback to Jar Jar). He could have just created exactly what everybody had seen or expected but he chose not to. And as an artistic statement, that was very profound for me. It was like ‘OK let’s try to push this medium out. Let’s try to create something new. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, there’s a high risk of failure. That’s OK. It’s art.'”

    After a certain amount of suspicion that Abrams and company are going to be playing things very carefully to avoid triggering the ostensible online tastemakers, it was at least sort of refreshing to see Chiang say that.

    • Keith Palmer Says:

      And just to clarify things, that last paragraph was mine: I didn’t check the tags closely enough before submitting my comment.

    • Wizardman Says:

      I wouldn’t call that Jar Jar bashing. There WAS blowback against Jar Jar. That doesn’t mean he thinks there’s something wrong with Jar Jar. Of course, I’m seeing this out of context, so….

      Good commentary, though. Hopefully the people working on the new movies are thinking about it similarly. It’s not likely, but hey, they’ve already infuriated fans a number of times; there’s a possibility that they’ll do what they feel is right artistically, despite the potential blowback. They must know that they’ll make people angry no matter what (I just hope they don’t try to limit the possible offense to prequel fans only). :/

      • Keith Palmer Says:

        What I meant was the critic was casually dismissive about Jar Jar in introducing Chiang’s comment, about which I agree with your interpretation; again, I suppose I hadn’t quite thought through the subtleties of the comment I was making.

        I can also put a bit more thought now into the whole “sorry, we’re not going to be bound by even the most aggressively venerated post-RotJ novels” deal…

    • jarjarbacktattooguy Says:

      Lucas, while maintaining a similar style and tone throughout the saga, was clearly never interested in copying himself over and over again. The is exactly what upsets the haters…they hate change.

      Just look at how Vader/Anakin changed from film to film.

      A New Hope…Vader is introduced as a mysterious henchman, emissary of the Emperor, and keeper of the force.

      ESB..he emerges as a military warlord and a true Sith Lord.

      ROTJ…a sympathetic villain

      TPM…sweet, good natured moppet of little means

      AOTC…dashing yet angry hero

      ROTS…tragic hero who succumbs to evil

      And from a design standpoint, each film has given us designs that didn’t mesh with the industrial, gritty look of the Rebellion and Empire.

      All the designs of Cloud City were sleek. Nothing like Cloud Cars in ANH.

      The Mon Calamari ships, A-Wings and Imperial Shuttles in ROTJ were far different from the other vehicles in the OT.

      So Episode I was not the first time we saw sleekly designed vehicles, yet the haters always act like it was and the designs weren’t true to the universe. It’s a big galaxy folks!

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