The rise of social media has been accompanied by a change in approach from movie studios – with the most effective among them seeking to harness all that potential marketing power, and use it to raise the profile of their releases in a very inexpensive way.
Filmmakers are a big part of this process, but what we’ve seen since the Star Wars franchise was re-launched in 2015 is what happens when filmmakers and studios engage on social media on behalf of a project that’s already high profile. Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson wants to assure us that, while it may have seemed daunting, he still loves that part of the process.
“I guess to me it’s less arguments, it’s more… I don’t know, and I’m still feeling my way forward in terms of how I do it. The truth is, since my first movie, Brick, which was a very small indie movie, I’ve been on the internet and it’s always been a fun part of it for me – talking to the fans and talking to people and hearing their reactions to the movie and talking to them about it.
“To me, you spend so long making these films, it’s all about putting them out there and hearing what people think. So for me, that’s always been part of the joy of it, and this has been no different.”
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It’s an interesting subject to question Johnson about, specifically because he has a unique perspective. Whereas J.J. Abrams had released a number of high profile projects in television and film before working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi was really Johnson’s first foray into huge budgets and legendary material that comes with its own fanbase.
Where previously, the filmmaker created and released his own, original work, The Last Jedi required the application of his talents to an existing, larger story, and such an undertaking brings an entirely different social media situation. This was especially the case once the somewhat divisive online response to the film began to coalesce. Still, the experience of Star Wars online fandom has not deterred Johnson in the slightest.
“It’s so good – it’s been such a blast for the past month. Like, I feel it was such a long build-up to putting the movie out there. Everyone put so much into it, and now to finally give it to the fans and just see the explosion of people relating to it and people talking about it, people arguing about it – all the good stuff that you want when you put something out there – it’s been that all over the place. It’s been really wonderful and fun.”
It’s good to hear that the director has enjoyed the Star Wars social media storm so far, as there will undoubtedly be a second wave arriving soon for him to face, with the release of The Last Jedi on Digital HD on March 13th and Blu-ray on March 27th.