herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Star Wars crew could be back to film future installments of movies

Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill
Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael's "mystical ambience" is what set it apart as a perfect hideaway for jedi knight Luke Skywalker - and it's likely the crew could return next year, the Herald can reveal.

Newly released documents show that Lucasfilm have indicated they may apply for permission to film there between January and May 2016 for the sequels to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Fans have speculated that the UNESCO Heritage site - which is home to protected seabirds - is expected to be the setting for Skywalker's secluded Jedi Knight Academy.

Actor Mark Hamill, who plays Skywalker, was back in Ireland last month to film more scenes for the new trilogy.

Correspondence between the film company and Government officials has given some hints as to the big-screen results of their stint off the Kerry coast.

Details include some locations on the island that will feature, including the famous Christ's Saddle formation.

In an environmental impact statement last year the company said that it had no desire to "dress" the ascent from the Wailing Woman to the monastery with movie props.

Stark

"Much of the appeal of the location comes from its stark, spartan beauty and its ancient, mystical ambience," it read.

"Whilst those aesthetics still hold true around the monastery, there is a requirement to depict this feature as a living community."

Lucasfilm was forced to scale back its production plan to secure a return to Skellig Michael.

The company reduced its staff numbers and opted not to construct landing platforms, among other measures, in a bid to gain access to the island.

2015-09-16_new_12883178_I1.JPG
Skellig Michael

A Department of Arts and Heritage document prepared in advance of a meeting with Lucasfilm outlined the need to reduce the project "to a scale where no adverse effects arise".

Representatives for the company were in Dublin in March and met with officials from the department and the Irish Film Board. The department redacted the names of the Lucasfilm staff members who were at the meeting.

A site visit for the same month was subject to stringent conditions imposed by the Office of Public Works, which said it was too unsafe to access the island by sea.

Under the terms of the consent given for the second round of filming at the island this year, a department official was present at all times and was entitled to change or revoke the consent at any time.

Lucasfilm covered the costs of the staff member.

Helicopter visits - one of the most controversial aspects of filming - were also limited to eight in a two-week period.

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