New Industrial Light & Magic book documents the making of Solo: A Star Wars Story

Review by C.J. Bunce

Adding to a year that will see the final installment in the episodic Star Wars saga, a new book provides a chronological, pictorial essay documenting the step-by-step creation of the most recent Star Wars movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story. When original Solo: A Star Wars Story directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller tapped Rob Bredow as a producer and visual effects supervisor, he stepped onto the studio lot realizing he was the only person with a camera and photography access.  He got the approval of the directors and executive Kathleen Kennedy (and later, approval from replacement director Ron Howard) and was soon filming everything and anything related to the production, from location visits to candid shots.  Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story is a collection of selections of the best from his photo album, 25,000 photographs later, taken on his personal camera and camera phone.

Unlike the J.W. Rinzler “making of” books on the original Star Wars trilogy featuring comprehensive stories and analysis from the entire production teams, or other Abrams “The Art” of books featuring The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and Solo full of concept art and design, Making Solo: A Star Wars Story is more of a visual assemblage showcasing one Star Wars crew member’s job (which included allowing his family on the film set to film in as extras).  The closest book like this is Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, a book piecing together photographs and accounts from the making of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, only put together years later.  It has all those bits and pieces assembled into books from the original trilogy that fans would call rare gems today, the difference being this time someone was paying attention, in the moment.

More so than any other book released on the film, Making Solo: A Star Wars Story provides an account of the film’s production process from pre-production, production, and post-production, documenting how this film came to the big screen.  Readers will find never-before-seen close-up images of all the new worlds, aliens, droids, and vehicles, with emphases on making the train heist on Vandor, Phoebe Waller-Bridge′s droid L3-37, filming the Kessel Run, and deconstructing and re-designing an early version of the Millennium Falcon.

Readers will find stories about the process from Bredow and select contributors from the film (including a foreword by Ron Howard), but the real value in the book are the rare photographs of sets without actors, angles on sets not seen in the film, and plenty of shots of actors filming the motion capture elements of the film.  One fantastic shot is a two-page panoramic spread of Alden Ehrenreich as Solo and Donald Glover as Lando sitting at the table with aliens ready to play Sabacc.  Other photographs of the scene include details of the prop currency used in the game.  And of course Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca and Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra each get significant coverage in behind-the-scenes images.  The only improvement on the book would be captions for all the photographs–many will leave the reader asking what was going on in the image and who were the people in the photo.

The book is a must for fans who love the Solo: A Star Wars Story entry in the franchise, but it should appeal to any Star Wars fan.  Cosplayers may find it as an indispensable resource for any costumes and props seen in the film.  And it provides an unprecedented angle on any major film, but the fact that it reveals the process for creating a Lucasfilm, Disney, and Industrial Light & Magic film will mean more for some readers.

Full of 256 pages of color and black and white photographs in a nice hardcover edition, Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story, by Rob Bredow, is published by Abrams Books, and it is available now here at Amazon.

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