Celebration Orlando 2017: ‘Freemaker Adventures’ Panel Highlights

Star Wars fans are living in a golden age of Star Wars storytelling. From comic books and novels to videos games and movies, there’s something for everyone. The department that currently has my attention is Lucasfilm Animation, which includes Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and most recently, Star Wars: Forces of Destiny and LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures—the latter of which gave one of the best presentations at Star Wars Celebration Orlando, providing fans with never-before-seen content, a closer look at the music of the show, and a surprise screening of the season two premiere.

The panelists included executive producers Bill Motz and Bob Roth, composer Michael Kramer, Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee, and sound editor and the voice of Roger himself Matthew Wood. Carrie Beck couldn’t make it, but she was there in spirit (and in the form of a LEGO minifig!).

Last time we saw Kordi, Zander, Rowan, and Roger, they had been approached by Admiral Ackbar and the Rebellion fleet, leaving us to wonder what sort of adventure the Freemakers would embark on next.

“What you’re going to see in season two is everybody has a role to play in the Rebellion,” said Roth, before breaking it down and going into more detail. “Kordi, of course, always wanted to be a great leader and she’s now here where we’ve got Leia, we’ve got Mon Mothma, you’ve got Hera. There are these great female role models that she wants to follow in their footsteps. That’s the role she’s going to be doing. Meanwhile, Zander knows that the Rebel Alliance is full of the greatest hotshot pilots in the galaxy and that’s the role he wants to go on.”

What about Rowan? Rowan is the youngest of the three siblings, and Roth pointed out that we don’t see any children in the Rebel fleet around this time, so what does that mean for him?

“That means Rowan is looking for a purpose,” Roth continued. “He’s on that ship and he’s trying to figure out where he fits in, and Rowan discovering his purpose and then fulfilling his purpose is what season two becomes about.”

Before we went further into season two, however, the creators took the audience back to when the characters were first visually depicted. Sometime last year, we found out that the Freemakers had first been drawn as live-action characters before being translated into LEGO form, so it was fascinating to finally see the concept art that we had only heard about in conversation before.

“The LEGO Group is so brilliant at taking live-action characters and translating them to the minfig form,” said Roth, before he and the team introduced the never-before-seen art. “When we started the series, the challenge was they were starting from a blank slate, and so, Carrie Beck had the brilliant idea of bringing in Doug Chiang’s group to design what the Freemakers would look like if they were real people so the LEGO Group had something work with and translating those real people down to minifigures.”

(Photo: Star Scavengers)

My favorite transformation from season one to season two is Rowan, especially given what Roth said about how they came to choose his new attire.

“We spent a long time talking about what’s Rowan going to look like. It was Jake Blais from LEGO who said, ‘What if we just sort of mirrored Luke’s costume? Let’s play with that.’ And that seemed to work out really well.”

Of course, season two will see new and familiar faces, including Hera Syndulla. When Hera first appeared in the recently released trailer, many questioned whether her appearance was canon. Leland Chee explained that she is alive during Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and with the recent announcement of Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, which she appears in, it’s safe to assume that she’s alive during the period of Return of the Jedi.

We also see Quarrie in the mix, and we have Carrie Beck to thank for that brilliant idea! Apparently, there were no plans for him to return in Star Wars Rebels, so she and the team felt it was natural to bring him into the picture.

“It’s not forced at all,” said Chee. “Quarrie is a ship builder, so he fits in perfectly.”

Roth added that Quarrie is also a natural mentor for Rowan, so it’ll be interesting to see how the two characters interact and what Rowan ends up learning from him along the way.

(Photo: Star Scavengers)

Naturally, there’ll be challenges throughout the second season and we’ll see them pop up in the form of M-OC (which stands for “My Own Creation” in LEGO terms), the Emperor’s latest pet project. Motz jokingly mentioned that while working on season two, they often wondered if they had gone too far with the character and whether this was going to give children nightmares. He definitely looks creepy, and his logic and approach to capturing Rowan is just as spooky, but like with anything else in the series, I think they found the perfect balance between creepy and comical, especially once the general audience sees how he and Darth Vader interact.

(Photo: Star Scavengers)

In terms of starships and the new LEGO sets coming out later this summer, M-OC’s ship (Tracker I) acts as an extension of himself, since he locks into it. In a way, the Arrowhead, which was designed by Ryan Church, also acts as an extension of Rowan, since he envisioned it and he’s the only one who can put it together. That ship as well as the kyber crystal that powers it become his purpose in season two, so it’ll be intriguing to see how he goes about building it, and most importantly, how he goes about using it. After all, it is a weapon, given the blade-like feature at the front.

Michael Kramer also spoke about his involvement with the show and how, musically speaking, the tone of the series is different because it incorporates aspects that are more lighthearted and humorous.

“Working on the show is really fun, but it’s also a challenge to try to do something that sounds like it’s Star Wars music, but then, it’s something different, too,” he said, also mentioning how he had studied John Williams’ music to pick it apart and get at the finer details. When it comes to the Freemakers, “It’s a little bit more playful. There’s a little bit more comedy than some of the other Star Wars properties … Bill and Bob and everyone on the whole team have been incredibly supportive and having a lot of trust in me to say, ‘Go build something. Let’s see what happens.’”

I may be a bit biased, since I love this show beyond measure, but in all honesty, the creators and crew of The Freemaker Adventures are just as passionate and incredibly collaborative as anyone else currently working on other Star Wars properties. There’s so much thought, care, and expertise that goes into making the series, and those who attended the panel got to feel that creative energy in person.

“We wanted to bring story to these things that had meaning, that combined both of the values from LEGO and Lucasfilm—and that’s the values of family, values of humor,” said Chee, explaining how The Freemaker Adventures came to be in the first place. “And then you get things that are uniquely LEGO … so you combine that with all of the familiar Star Wars elements, like iconic Star Wars ships, you just create something magical.”

The Freemaker Adventures is truly magical, and I wish more Star Wars fans would give it a chance because the series is more than just another LEGO show. It captures everything fans love about Star Wars, while also reminding us that there’s nothing wrong with being a kid at heart.

Prior to the second season debut later this summer, make sure to watch 5 new shorts that fill in the gap between seasons one and two on Wednesday, May 4, on Disney XD in celebration of the Star Wars fan-generated holiday, May the Fourth. Also, make sure to tune into The Freemaker Adventures marathon starting at 11:00 AM.

Here’s a list of the shorts, plus descriptions (source):

  • A New Home, Part One: The Freemakers prove their worth to the Rebellion with Kordi’s amazing bartering skills.
  • A New Home, Part Two, “Thrown Into Battle”: Roger saves the Rebel fleet from destruction when he accidentally turns himself into a torpedo.
  • A New Home, Part Three, “Rowan’s Secret Adventure”: Rowan winds up in a Y-Wing’s tail-gunner seat in the middle of an intense battle against the Empire.
  • A New Home, Part Four, “Zander Freemaker, Superstar Pilot Guy”: Zander attempts to join a fighter squadron by flying his own ship, the Blazemaker.
  • A New Home, Part Five, “Beware the Gamorrean Flu”: The Freemakers undertake a daring mission to save two of the Rebellion’s finest heroes: Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca.

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