Solo: A Star Wars Story and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse directors Philip Lord and Chris Miller recently explained the lessons they learned after being fired from the Star Wars film by Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm.
In an interview with Rolling Stone about the recently released Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the directors were asked what their emotional and professionals lessons were from working on the film.
Lord first said, “So much of that experience was positive. We worked with so many great crew people and the Creature Shop, and these amazing craftspeople in London, and a great cast.”
“So like, they can’t take the experience that you gain, that many days of shooting. That stays with you. And so that made us better filmmakers,” he detailed.
Miller then shared, “And then gave us a drive to make things that felt new and original and fresh and interesting, and have something cool to say and bring things into the world that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.”
“And that’s been a driving force before, and even more so after,” he added.
Lord concluded, “Yeah, it’s important to remember that Star Wars was an independent film. And it’s important, for us, anyway, to remain independent voices even while making these big franchises for big studios.”
The duo were originally fired back in 2017, less than a year before the film arrived in theaters in May 2018. At the time, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy claimed the reason was creative differences.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Kennedy said, “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon.”
Miller and Lord release their own statement saying, “Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliche is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”
Lord and Miller previously discussed being fired during an appearance on The Business podcast back in February 2022.
Miller told host Kim Masters, “Well, there are two sides to every story, Kim. And every success that is public, there are many things that don’t happen and don’t come to light and many disappointments. Certainly, we’ve had ebb and flow in our career, maybe not as visible. So, at the end of the day, it’s always about you’re always in film school. You’re always learning and trying to become a better filmmaker.”
He continued, “So, as negative as the ending of that was, and as deeply misunderstood as, I believe, we felt, the lasting memory is of the great collaboration we had. We shot, 90 days on that movie, you can’t take the experience away from us, you can’t take away the pencil miles from us—a term we use in animation—and we had a very fruitful, creative time on that with all the departments and with one another and we became better filmmakers for it. So at the end of the day, like when we walked into Spider-Verse to work on that, in a funny way, it isn’t a debacle. It’s actually just on the continuum of like learning and becoming a great filmmaker.”
Lord then shared, “We certainly became better filmmakers and we met such amazing, talented crew that we still work with, and are in touch with, and love to this day.”
“So, ultimately, it was a positive experience that had a hard-to-get-through chapter, but luckily we had a lot of other things to jump into and funnel all of the sort of creativity and things that we had learned into those things,” he concluded.
Masters would then ask, “Just because you do so much in this mythical world, the superhero world, the fans there’s such a tension between this is what it is and this is what the fans expect versus can we make it something different and you’ve certainly executed on the Spider-Man film and how does anybody navigate that?”
Lord responded, “I think if you’re giving the audience exactly what they expect and a bunch of ‘fan service,’ they’re going to end up disappointed. They’re gonna be like, ‘Yeah, this is stuff I already knew.”
He continued, “The trick is to figure out what it is they don’t quite yet realize that they want and every idea that you add into the stew is something that you’re like, ‘Oh, that would be a cool thing to see that I haven’t seen before and isn’t the thing that is expected because I think people are really savvy now and so you have to stay two steps ahead of them and so we feel like that’s our job.”
Miller then relayed, “You can’t play scared. So, I don’t really relate to some fear of a fanbase. We don’t think about it that way. There are people out there, I suppose, that are trying to game the marketplace and follow a formula. They’re trying to serve the quarterly earnings of a big company, but a company doesn’t make a movie or write a song, these things are made by human beings, and we’re always trying to serve the human beings making the movie and the human beings witnessing the movie.
“Always remembering, that what you’re putting out there, that’s only half of it,” he continued. “The other half is, there’s a person in a movie theater and you’re beaming sound and light into their face and they make the movie in their brain. And so you have to understand that as a relationship and a conversation, and put yourselves in the shoes of that person.”
“We are so sincere with wanting to serve that person and deliver surprise and delight. And also affirmation to help that person imagine what goodness looks like in the world. Those things are all genuine and that is the Teflon that allows you to go out and take great risks with this material and this hallowed ground because you understand the fundamental underpinning of it and you are honoring that,” Miller concluded.
What do you make of Lord and Miller’s recent comments about the things they learned while filming Solo: A Star Wars Story despite being fired midway through production by Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm?