Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Production Design



By Anton Adianto

The much anticipated Episode VII of Star Wars finally premiered on December 17, 2015. And fantastically, the movie has broken every box office record. The Force Awakens made US$57 million from previews on its first night, grossed at US$119 million and became the first film to earn more than US$100 million in one single day. In just three weeks, The Force Awakens has collected more than US$1.6 billion worldwide.

Considering it’s a legendary saga that has fans all over the world intently waiting, The Force Awakens enjoys a giant film production budget of US$200 million from Lucasfilm and Bad Robot Productions, under the support of Walt Disney Studios.

The Force Awakens' production design was handled by Academy Award-winning Rick Carter. He has worked on numerous major films, such as Back to the Future Part II and III, Forrest Gump, Avatar, and Lincoln.

The first thing he did was to huddle with the Star Wars creator George Lucas, before he discussed with director J.J. Abrams, to figure out how to visualize the Force. He asked Darren Gilford to be his co-production designer. Gilford’s father (Ira Gilford, the designer of the Hot Wheels car) was a Star Wars Cineflex cover illustrator in 1977.

The collective brainstorming of great minds was crucial for the finesse of The Force Awakens' production design.

Carter and Gilford applied the concept of Zen design and focused on simple shapes: a triangle for the Star Destroyer, an X for the winged Resistance fighters and a bat shape for the Tie Fighters. In addition, they created the planets that grew out of the nature mythology: desert of Jakku, forest in Tokadana, ice and water; besides finding of a castle on a lake up in Scotland's Isle of Skye. For a water planet at the end of the film, Carter googled some exotic islands around the world and he found Skellig Islands in Ireland. "It's the Himalayas of the water. Then I found out that there was a fifth century church, and, for a thousand years, they made those stones. It's so spiritual," he explained.

Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

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Natasha Gan
Natasha is a writer with 5+ years of experience and a digital marketing professional currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can view her past works on

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