Celebration Chicago: ‘Star Wars Resistance’ Panel Highlights

The first season of Star Wars Resistance ended on a surprising note, launching the Colossus and its residents across space and separating Tam from her friends.

The production crew and some of the cast attended this year’s Celebration to talk about the major events from season one and to tease at things to come in the second season.

Sitting on the stage were Supervising Director and Executive Producer Justin Ridge, Executive Producer Athena Portillo, Head Writer and Executive Producer Brandon Auman, Christopher Sean (Kazuda Xiono), Suzie McGrath (Tam Ryvora), Scott Lawrence (Jarek Yeager), Myrna Velasco (Torra Doza), Donald Faison (Hype Fazon), and Bobby Moynihan (Orka).

Dave Filoni’s creation

Host David Collins kicked off the panel by asking the executive producers how Star Wars Resistance came about. Ridge stated it was an idea Dave Filoni had going through his head, wondering what was happening before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Filoni showed Ridge early concept art of Resistance drawn by Amy Beth Christenson (ABC), the art director of the series, as well as art from Polygon Pictures and Silver Ant PPI, the 3D animation studios they work with. Ridge was impressed with what he saw and later became the showrunner of the series.

“Our design team led by ABC, they did an incredible job in giving it a history, a richness, and making it feel different but also feel like Star Wars,” he said in response to the vibrant and colorful look of the series. He also dropped Hayao Miyazaki and Robotech: The Macross Saga as sources of inspiration.

Breaking the first season

Like other projects before it, the first season of Star Wars Resistance was developed at Skywalker Ranch. They talked about the state of the galaxy 6 months to a year before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the tension rising at this time with the First Order, and the kind of characters they wanted to bring into the show, like Poe Dameron and General Organa. According to Auman, it was all fleshed out under the guidance of Dave Filoni.

Not only that, but Portillo added how they were able to collaborate with the supervisors they’ve had since Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, including Joel Aron (CG Supervisor/Visual Effects Supervisor), Keith Kellogg (Animation Supervisor), and Paul Zinnes (Asset Supervisor).

Portillo also laid out the production timeline of the series, giving fans a clearer idea of how far back Star Wars Resistance was in development.

“2015 is when Amy started doing the first character designs for the show. 2016 is when we had our first writers’ conference and when our first scripts were being produced. 2017 is when the cast was selected and we started having our first record sessions. 2018 is when we aired, and here we are in 2019.”

Crazy to think how several animated projects were in development at the same time during that timeline, including Star Wars Rebels. I can only imagine what other animated projects were developed and continue to be developed in secret.

Kaz’s self-sacrifice and willingness to fight

When describing his character, Christopher Sean sounded more like a Jedi and someone who lives a well-balanced life, especially when talking about self-sacrifice and loving others.

“I love playing Kaz,” he said. “He’s so much fun, he’s so real, and he’s someone everyone can relate to. Just to watch him be this bumbling, spastic young fellow to someone who’s found his ground and who’s standing for something and fighting for something. He’s not afraid anymore to give up his own life for others. I think that’s something we all kind of strive to get to in a point in our lives, where we love ourselves enough to love others. When you love yourself, that’s the only time when you can truly love others. I’m just really honored and excited to be part of this Star Wars show.”

Tam’s loyalty

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Suzie McGrath briefly spoke about Tam’s emotional journey and growth before Collins asked about her character’s relationship with Hype Fazon. I’m glad this particular topic came up because I think that’s the point in time when things started changing for Tam. She felt betrayed by Hype’s advancement as a pilot and him subsequently forgetting about her. Trust and loyalty go a long way for her, but Hype shattered those aspects of their friendship and she’s been protective of herself ever since. The fact that she experiences a sense of betrayal again with Yeager and Kaz, that’s the push she needs to start focusing on her goals.

“Never forget who your friends are,” said McGrath, which I find interesting because Tam believes Yeager and Kaz forgot about her and left her in the dark, but they were there for her at the end. They made their mistakes and wronged her, but they came back for her. She’s the one who chose to leave, essentially forgetting about them in the process. Tam is truly one of the most fascinating characters, and I can’t wait to follow her journey in the second season.

Yeager’s back in the game

Jarek Yeager could have easily been that old and grumpy character from beginning to end, but Scott Lawrence is happy with how much background story his character got over the course of the first season and how Yeager got more involved with the fighting later on. He’s fully involved now and it looks like there’s no turning back.

In a way, I like to think his relationship with Kaz is like Hondo and Ezra from Star Wars Rebels in the “For that boy, there is nothing I would not do” kind of way. He was willing to lay down his own life for Kaz, so I’m excited to see how much farther he’s willing to go when it comes to the fight against the First Order.

Ace pilots taking charge

Myrna Velasco thanked the crew for trusting her with the character of Torra Doza, “Being able to find that journey with her to find her friends and show how loyal and how loving and how smart she is for other people as well was just such an honor.”

What’s even more great is seeing Torra take on more responsibility and not have her father keep her sheltered. He knows now that she’s more than capable to get things done. Also, did any of you make a note of Torra’s Blue Ace in the season two poster? She’s leading the squadron. In season one, Hype’s Green Ace took the lead, but her leading the charge in the poster means great things for her character.

That said, it would be interesting to see a head-butting situation between the ace pilots. Donald Faison kept insisting Hype is the best and most consistent pilot, but is his character willing to put his “best years” on the front lines against the First Order and have someone else take the lead? Or would he want to continue his racing career somewhere else so he can stay on top?

Resistance‘s sound editing

Not many people are aware, but David Collins is the sound engineer on Star Wars Resistance. He works alongside his supervising sound editors, Matthew Wood and David Acord, at Skywalker Sound.

“I get to edit and mix the show at Skywalker Ranch,” he said. “It’s been amazing to be the sound editor on this show. I know your voices so well. I know every frame of this show so well. It’s been a huge part of my life, since I started in January 2018.”

Women in Resistance

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Velasco brought up one of my favorite quotes of the panel and it had to do with the women of the show. While some had more time under the spotlight than others, most of the women (like Tam, Torra, and Synara) experienced their own journeys and their own character arcs.

“I love every episode so much and having that theme with us of being able to be complex characters and have secrets and have regrets and have loneliness,” she said, reminding us how it’s important to give women in fiction their own faults and aspirations. “Yeah, they suck, but it’s also so real and to be able to portray that for everyone so that we can all connect to it, that’s my favorite part.”

That said, I hope we get to see more of Freya Fenris. We don’t really know anything about her or the other ace pilots. In a past interview, Ridge mentioned how we’d see and learn more about them in the future, so I’m eagerly looking forward to those moments and interactions.

Leading up to the season one finale

Heading into the second half of the season, the tone of the series shifted slightly and things began to get more serious, especially when the First Order occupied the station. Putting the characters in these precarious situations reminded the audience how we do, in fact, care about them and want them to come out okay.

“As a fan of the show and watching the show, you want to fall in love with the characters,” said Faison in response to the First Order’s presence on the show and how things got increasingly darker toward the end of the first season. “It’s important to fall in love with your main characters before you break them up.”

Speaking of being broken up, Tam is now off in her own direction. That path became more clear when the First Order showed up in heavier numbers.

“As the show started to dial up the heat, the conflict started to really set in amongst the Team Fireball family, especially for Tam,” said McGrath. “The tension really does start to build, and I think that carries us through to the end of the season for our little family unit.”

The cast even felt the separation during the recording sessions. “They separated Tam from us. We weren’t seeing Tam, so we started to feel that in the production as well,” said Sean. “There was just this distance that we felt, which really translated on screen.”

What I ultimately love most about the show is the diversity of opinions. Everyone has a different thought regarding the politics at this point in time, and each thought is based on their own personal experiences and beliefs. Not everyone is going to see eye to eye and approach a particular situation the same way, and that’s what makes the show so relevant.

“It’s fascinating to get different people’s perspectives. Tam’s grandfather worked for the Empire, so she has a different perspective than Kaz or Yeager. So we wanted to make sure we had that conflict, that complexity when we had these conversations.”

Season two timeline

Although not much was revealed in terms of what fans can expect in the second season, Ridge confirmed things will pick up right where they left off in the season one finale.

“Like The Force Awakens into The Last Jedi, which is continuous, our season one and season two are also continuous. It will jump right into what we saw in the season,” he said.

Soon after, fans in attendance were shown the 22-minute season two premiere and received an exclusive season two double-sided poster. You can read more about that experience here.

Besides that, they did not debut a season two trailer or reveal a premiere date. Convention season is just getting started, however, so this information as well as news about a season one DVD/Blu-ray set will no doubt surface in the near future.

1 comment on “Celebration Chicago: ‘Star Wars Resistance’ Panel Highlights

  1. Pingback: Celebration Chicago: ‘Star Wars Resistance’ season two premiere and poster thoughts – The Wookiee Gunner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s