The purpose of making a film or series has always been to tell an important story
The first concepts for what would become The Last Guardian came about in early 2019. The story was conceived as being a serious family drama wrapped up in the Star Wars universe, with a darker tone and going so far as to say terrifying at times, while also bringing in a Star Wars concept that's never been tried in a film project before. The main character of Cal was there from day one as this broken Jedi that swayed between the light and dark as he slowly loses his mind, while is ex wife Aaylia attempts to bring him back to her side. This struggle would be the foundation on which The Last Guardian would be built.
Aaylia was conceived to be a terrifying sympathetic character. While being the villain of the film, she was never directly written as such. Her main goal was to get her family back, no matter the cost. This is of course a concept many can come to relate to. She needed to be able to sway back and forth, one moment being caring, the next horrifying. A strong force, who would be aided by many Sith Assassins that would do her bidding and worship her like a cult.
The character of Ilia came from the idea of wanting to add an unknown element to an already unstable situation. For the most part she would be the only real connection we would have to the outside world at first and she would be the opposite of Aaylia, an extremely strong willed New Republic fighter, but with a dark secret. In a way, this gave the story a balance that Cal could then slip back and forth on, with every move having major repercussions.
By 2020 the script for The Last Guardian, broke into 3 parts, was complete, taking a heavy focus on deep emotional relationships mixed with mysteries to make the audience guess and wonder. Nothing is truly clear cut, which makes for the best of stories. These characters develop a life of their own and it's always such an honor when you see them jump from the page to the screen.
It takes a team to make a film
To say that bringing The Last Guardian to life would be challenging would be an understatement. Parish Productions is a small independent film studio with limited resources. But it's in this kind of environment that we come up with new and better ways to bring our dreams to life. That starts with an amazingly talented cast of actors that had the range of skills to bring these flawed characters to life. Then you mix in the makeup and costume design team and you end up with magic. Filming began on May 6th, 2022. Below are some interesting facts about our time on set.
- Melissa Radford was the first actor cast in the project, nearly 2 years before production began.
- The cast went through 5 months of weekly script rehearsals and 2 months of fight training to prepare.
- Filming conditions fluctuated from a cool 12 degrees celsius the first week to nearly 40 degrees celsius (with humidity) the next.
- When not on camera, cast members would all be capturing the amazing behind the scenes pictures and footage we have.
- Besides bumps and bruises, no injuries occurred.
- On one eventful day, the team became trapped in a severe thunderstorm and hail storm with no shelter but our script binders. Amazingly no equipment was damaged and part of the storm can actually be seen in the film!
- The camera rig worn by director Kyle Parish consists of a Canon C200 cinema camera with a 24-70mm F2.8 lens balanced on a DJI Ronin S2, attached to a Redking stabilizer and finally a Flycam Galaxy vest. Attached to the rig was a Atomos Ninja V+ recorder, a Rode NTG Shotgun mic, a DJI Ronin control arm, and a V mount battery. This was a complete homemade design and weighed over 40lb.
- Over 5TB of footage was recorded during filming.
- Filming wrapped on May 28th.
- The film has 156 VFX shots in total.
Making the galaxy your own
As with previous Star Wars Fan Films from Parish Productions, The Last Guardian is set in a timeline of its own, giving huge freedoms to do and create whatever we want without having to fight with the idea of if it fits into canon. We create our own canon. The Last Guardian is set roughly 80 years after The Rise of Skywalker, with the New Republic having been fully formed and the New Jedi Order having grown under the watchful eye of Rey Skywalker. When our story begins, we find the Republic on the verge of being over run by a new Sith threat and the Jedi having been systematically hunted down by the new Sith cult who worship "The Mother" of creation.
The New Jedi order continued many of the old traditions the order had followed since its founding. Originally they did attempt to allow for attachments, but when a group of Jedi fell to the dark side, this practice was banned again, though some Jedi would still have relationships and be cast out from the order. The New Jedi Order was broken into two classes, the Mythics and the Guardians. The Mythics focused their efforts on learning the mysteries of the Force. They were negotiators by nature but would fight as a last case scenario. The Guardians were Jedi Warriors. They actively seek out the dark side and protect those in need. While they had more freedom in their actions than previously given, the Guardians would still require the approval of the Jedi Council before engaging in any major conflict. A secondary role for the Guardians was right in the classes name, Guard. Many Jedi Guardians would be signed to a location important to the order and remain there for their whole life, guarding it til the end. These Jedi would often become revered by the local populations on their worlds.
The new Sith threat to the galaxy emerged from the unknown regions of space near the Maw, a supermassive black hole. These Sith were unlike the Sith of the past, focused heavily on human sacrifices to be made to the one they called "The Mother". In some Sith circles, the mother is referred to as the Beloved Queen of the Stars, and others by the name Abeloth. These Sith believe that by making sacrifices to her, they are helping her to regain her strength so that one day she may escape the Maw and be free again. Of course this is mostly legend and can't be said for certain if this being does exist or not.