Pablo Hidalgo discusses the story group

Vanity Fair have yet another interview up, this time with Pablo Hidalgo.

Here’s what he has to say on his role in the Lucasfilm story group:

Now we’re at this new point in our history where we’re going to have a very production-focused future with [Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy leading the way. And if we’re going to build onto this franchise, it’s important to know what’s happened in the past, to know what’s been established, to know what George’s intentions were and stuff like that. So I just got more and more roped into this process to the point where I’m now part of Kiri Hart’s story group. Among things that I do is I offer that kind of level of deep knowledge. I’m able to give my two cents when I see something that isn’t tracking, maybe pointing out that, well, you know, that spaceship doesn’t have that capacity or these two planets are closer than the script is suggesting that they are. That kind of deep universe history.

He goes on to discuss how the group are building the Star Wars universe and story with much more up-front planning this time around:

In the past, our storytelling had been a little bit more haphazard, and we had to make those maps after the fact and make realizations of like, Oh, if we move this story here, it connects properly, right? But now we’re able to be bit more formal and organized beforehand, and that’s super-exciting.

This is in stark contrast to the approach George Lucas took to the old expanded universe:

It was sort of guidance by absence, in a weird way, like he told us what not to do but not necessarily what to do. It was like, “Don’t do this with that character, don’t do that.”

The role of the story group is becoming clearer over time: they are the “keepers of the flame” for Star Wars, mapping out the larger story in broad strokes, providing key stories for movies and TV and just generally keeping it all true to the spirit of the old films. Outside creatives, such as writers working under Del Rey or Marvel are either assigned stories or aided in fitting their story ideas into the overall fabric of the universe.

In a sense, this is similar to Lucas’ role on The Clone Wars, where he gave story ideas and filtered the ideas of others through his personal Star Wars lens, giving the universe a coherent feel with thematic continuity in the process. Of course, Lucas just instinctively knew what fit and what didn’t, but people like Lawrence Kasdan, Pablo Hidalgo and Dave Filoni have all been in the Star Wars headspace for so long that it’s almost as if they’ve been imbued with Lucas’ essence through osmosis.

And in some strange way, the story group are a bit like the Jedi Council of Lucasfilm, picking up where their mentor left off. Lucas truly has passed on what he has learned.

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