After the acclaimed debut of Star Wars: Visions volume one in 2021, a new collection of animated shorts is about to drop on Disney+. Gizmodo recently spoke to Lucasfilm’s executive producers on the series — James Waugh, Jacqui Lopez, and Josh Rimes — about putting together the upcoming anthology
Spanning the world and exploring new styles, the shorts in Star Wars: Visions volume two explore the Star Wars universe through the lens of cutting-edge animation houses like 88 Pictures, Punkrobot, Triggerfish, Aardman, Studio Mir, and El Guiri. Gizmodo interviewed Lucasfilm’s executive producers on Visions — an apt name, since the series highlights the best of what Star Wars can be when more storytellers explore the potential contained within the franchise’s expansive universe. It’s a global love letter inspired by the impact Star Wars has had on cultures around the world.
Sabina Graves, Gizmodo: Tell me a bit about how this collaboration came to be and what it was like to return for the second instalment.
James Waugh: We were over the moon by the success of volume one. I think that it exceeded anything we could have possibly hoped for. We believe in these things and put so much heart and soul and passion into making this stuff. So it gave us licence to start having conversations about what can volume two be? We always saw Visions as a platform that really could expand. It didn’t just have to be storytelling about anime in particular — we started there just because it was such a such an influence on so many of us. In that process, we really started to see how the other great story of volume one wasn’t just doing anime versions of Star Wars, but it was actually Japanese culture through the lens of Star Wars. And these creators had different contexts of what Star Wars meant to them: different religious, different influences, different historical influences that allowed them to tell stories that wouldn’t have come out otherwise of Western elements. We realised that there was a story in that and as big fans of animation we wanted to see what Star Wars would look like through different cultural lenses from cultures around the world. What [would] Star Wars look like from India? What Star Wars look like from South Africa?
io9: My best friend currently lives in Japan and we really bonded over the different stories in the first anthology. When it came to finding collaborators for this second instalment, were there creatives you wanted to go to specifically for their voice or style, or were there creatives who approached you with ideas?
Jacqui Lopez: We definitely had some studios that we wanted to approach specifically. You know, we thought an Aardman Star Wars mash up would be incredible. And that was such a joy when they when they were equally as excited to do it. Cartoon Saloon as well — you know, we’re such fans of their work and there’s Celtic mythology and things they bring into [Screecher’s Reach]. We wanted to make sure we had a global representation. And we had been in talks with [Sith’s] Rodrigo Blaas, wanting to work with him. So that was a pre-established relationship. No one just came and pitched just blind. We sort of approached the studios and then asked them if they had a Star Wars story that they would like to pitch.
io9: There are so many voices represented and an exciting cast as well. Daveed Diggs in The Pit was just mind-blowingly great. I always like to see him pop up in different projects.
Lopez: Wherever he pops up is amazing.
io9: Aau’s Song was stylistically so different and textured; I just love the different mix of styles this time around. Once you’ve been in talks with these other studios, how do the ideas develop for their shorts?
Josh Rimes: It’s amazing to talk to them and get to know them to know what’s important to them. Usually with every studio, we open up the discussion and ask them to send us a few ideas or some inspiration artwork or concept drawings. And that’s sort of the first step in really looking at ideas and putting together the anthology — making sure stories feel different from each studio but also feel extremely personal. Stories that come right from the heart, from the filmmakers, really are what rise to the top. And all of the studios really do bring their A-game. So it’s sometimes difficult to choose. And as far as the style goes, we knew when we went to Aardman we’d be getting an amazing sort of stop motion, their specialty. And the stop-motion technique brought to some of the CGI projects like Aau’s Song and In the Stars was really unique to us.
io9: In the Stars was incredible.
Rimes: Yeah. It just added [a] tactile feel to the emotion of those characters. Seeing that hand-drawn animation that Cartoon Saloon does [in Screecher’s Reach] and that La Cachette does [in Spy Dancer] is amazing. So it’s really just the combination of heartfelt storytelling with these amazing styles that make it feel really magical and special.
Waugh: We wanted to make sure that there was a wide range of styles, that the audience really would get to see not only cultural diversity, but also the medium diversity that’s happening today. And so balancing that against the number one thing: what does the story have to say when you strip out all the Star Wars? I think we were able to kind of balance it right, and work with each of these studios to make sure their story was being executed in a way that made it not only the purest form of that initial vision, but also an untold Star Wars story with Star Wars values.
Star Wars Visions volume two arrives May 4 on Disney+.
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