Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi is a six-part series that begins 10 years after the dramatic events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan Kenobi has faced his greatest defeat - the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord, Darth Vader.
Directed by Deborah Chow, the series stars Ewan McGregor as Obi-an, and Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader. Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell and Benny Safdie also appear.
Obi-Wan is nominated for five Emmys, including Outstanding Picture Editing For A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie (Part VI). Kelley Dixon, ACE, and Josh Earl, ACE, were both picture editors editors on the show and shared their experience with Post. We begin with Dixon.
Kelley, how did you get involved in the series?
“I was approached by the director, Deborah Chow. She said she wanted an editor very strong in dramatic material, as the Obi-Wan Kenobi story would delve into a lot of personal and emotional material from his past. I read the script and I was excited by the drama as well as the action and intrigue - the twists and turns of these characters we knew.”
Can you talk a bit about the production and post production timeline?
“The entirety of the project was shot beginning in April 2021, and production wrapped in the beginning of September 2021. Post production lasted through May 2022. The editing team was not consulted regarding the camera & lens package. (It was) entirely the decision of the DP, Chung-Hoon Chung. I feel he covered all the cinematography excellently. It was beautifully done with emotional close-ups, sweeping wide shots and dynamic action sequences.”
Was there an episode or sequence that was particularly challenging to edit?
“Working with kids is always challenging. Our actress playing Leia was only eight years old and handled the work like a pro. She had to match Ewan MacGregor in action and dramatic scenes, and also go toe to toe with Moses Ingram, playing Reva, in frightening interrogation scenes. Lightsaber battles were shot with several cameras at once and yielded a lot of footage. Working through all the angles and making decisions on the most effective and exciting combinations was time consuming but a lot of fun. I personally enjoyed revealing the fallibility of Obi-Wan in his search for understanding his responsibility for the emerging of Darth Vader from his padawan, Anakin Skywalker; and the reluctance and subsequent resolve in finally engaging him in the final episode's battle.”
Can you comment on how music or sound effects add to the storytelling experience?
“Without music or sound effects, things are pretty flat. Everyone is very familiar with the Star Wars theme and the other sub themes in the library. The challenge here was: How to make it exciting without using those themes? Our director wanted it to be familiar, but wanted to refrain from that original sound. Finding temp music to give us that result was challenging but was accomplished by our music editor Nick Fitzgerald, and also my co-editor Josh Earl. Josh loves working with big scores and really enjoyed tweaking our temp tracks for early cuts. We were supplied with Star Wars library SFX from droids to weapons to ships, and all were used from the very beginning of our process.”
Hi Josh! Can you talk about your work on the series and how you came on-board?
“Kelley and I have known each other for a while, and she asked if I’d want to go on an adventure in a galaxy far far away…How could I refuse?”
What scenes come to mind from an editing standpoint?
“A couple actually come to mind. So much of the series worked hand in hand with VFX, which are always challenging. A scene I worked on in Episode 4 had an attack inside the Inquisitors’ fortress. It was a lot of editorial building around a gun fight with Stormtroopers and Speeder ships, so you’re focusing on performance, pacing and action as the scene evolves with VFX. (There are) constant adjustments as new ideas or perspectives might appear. There were also scenes like Haja’s intro that had to balance a dramatic moment with a touch of comedy. Then, of course, the lightsaber battle between Ben and Vader had to be a rollercoaster of who’s going to get the high ground! (There were) a lot of different setups and footage to juggle as we’re showing Ben struggle with past failures and Vader’s need for revenge. Finding those little moments when we can see and feel their emotions…Even with all the challenges, it was a nerd dream to work with!”
What are your thoughts on the use of music and sound effects?
“In my opinion, Star Wars comes to life with its sound and score. I’ve always had fun in the build stages doing temp for both…but this had lightsabers, so it was one for the books. I picked up some tricks from Nick Fitzgerald, our awesome music editor, as he worked his magic laying the path for the incredible final score (Natalie Holt, John Williams). The team at Skywalker Sound did what they do best and built the soundscape of each individual planet, not to mention the iconic sounds we’ve all grown to love…I mean Vader’s breath alone? Come on! So cool!”
In addition to its Picture Editing nomination, Obi-Wan is also Emmy nominated for Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie, Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series, and Outstanding Sound Editing For A Limited Or Anthology Series, Movie Or Special.