Kevin Smith, director of such films as Clerks, Clerks 2, and Red State, is widely known as one of the biggest Star Wars fans around, which is why his visit to the set of J. J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII last week made such an impact after he tweeted a picture with a single tear streaming down his cheek. But after being unable to speak concretely about what it was specifically that moved him to tears, it appears that he is now able to share much more of his experience with fans.
Speaking at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival in Switzerland on Saturday, Smith spoke a little more about what the experience was like on the Star Wars Episode VII set, although his words were still lacking firm details — the result of having signed a non-disclosure agreement after his visit.
“So we go to the set and they’re actually shooting, and they’re shooting — and this is what I can’t tell you what they were shooting — but what I saw I absolutely loved,” Smith explained. “It was tactile, it wasn’t a series of fucking green and blue screens in which later on digital characters would be added. It was there it was happening.”
Smith’s reference to “green and blue screens” alludes to director George Lucas’ push in the prequel Star Wars trilogy towards completely CGI worlds, opposed to the practical sets and effects employed for the original trilogy. Lucas has been a huge champion for CGI in recent decades, seemingly showing that the director has always felt there was a vast divide between what he imagined and what was possible with practical effects. But while Lucas has been successful in creating entire worlds the way he imagined, the prequel films have also been criticized for lacking tangibility — not to mention having actors who seemed lost in its lack of physical settings.
“I saw uniforms, I saw artillery that I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I saw them shooting an actual sequence in a set that is real — I walked across the set, there were explosions — and it looked like a shot right out of a fucking Star Wars movie,” Smith said. He added that Abrams is “building a tactile world, a world you can touch. And he’s replicating it with all the love of somebody that has the world’s greatest collection of Star Wars figures.”
Smith’s strong endorsement for Abrams’ vision comes at a time when Star Wars Episode VII is set to break for two weeks in order to allow Harrison Ford to recover from his leg injury. But the Star Wars team did add two more actors to the film before the break, both of whom came from an open casting call that spanned eleven cities in the U.S. and UK with over 37,000 actors in attendance and 30,000 with online submissions.
Both unknowns, Crystal Clarke is an American actress currently studying in Glasgow, U.K., who can be seen in her first feature The Moon and the Sun when it is released in 2015. Pip Anderson, a British actor and parkour pro, was recently seen in a Spider-Man ad for Sony and is sure to put his free-running skills to the test in the Star Wars film.