When Star Wars: The Force Awakens began production in the early part of 2014, we heard a great deal about shoots happening in Ireland at Kerry's Skellig Michael. The unique location was rumored to be used for a great number of things, including the home world of the Sith and Luke Skywalker's hiding place. But none of that has ever been confirmed. Today, we have word from RTE News that the production is heading back to Skellig Michael for reshoots. This is happening with less than 100 days before the long-anticipated sequel finally hits theaters this December.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphries confirmed earlier this week that LucasFilm had been granted permission to return to Skellig Michael. There are strict environmental and ecological conditions in place to ensure the production doesn't negatively affect the site or the bird life that inhabit the island. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO world heritage site, and LucasFilm has drawn objections from some who believe the area to be too sensitive for the riggers of Hollywood filmmaking. But steps are in place to ensure none of the environment is harmed in any way.
An ecologist and specialist staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Monuments Service will be on hand at all times during the shoot. And production will be halted if there is any danger of changing of altering anything about the location. There are 16 measures in place to keep the unique island intact, including the reshoots being limited to only the month of September. And there is only a limited amount of area in Skellig Michael where the film crew will be allowed to enter for shooting purposes. One of the reasons permission was granted is that The Force Awakens gives Ireland a great boost as an international filming location.
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens shot in Ireland last year, 70 locals were employed under LucasFilm. One of the concerns brought up by the local community was the number of helicopters flying in and out of the area, which is said to double since the time of the last shooting. It is believed that the helicopters great affect the fledgling bird population of the area. Irish Film Board CEO James Hickey welcomed the decision for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to return to the area, and had this to say.
"I would like to extend again a very warm Irish welcome to the filmmakers returning to Sceilg Mhichíl and to wish them the very best for the filming, which we hope will be as successful as the previous visit. We very much appreciate their help and cooperation in bringing arrangements for this short visit to a satisfactory conclusion."
The report does not confirm that this latest shooting is for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it is the general consensus is that the weather was 'too good' the first time around. And with just a month too shoot, these will mostly be new establishing shots of the island. It's possible that Star Wars: Episode VIII could be doing some early shooting in the country. Though, it is not scheduled to start production until the currently shooting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story wraps. It has long been believed that the first Star Wars spinoff will be utilizing sets and locations from the previous movies, so its also possible that Rogue One needs some new Skellig Michael plates as well.
Some speculate that Skellig Michael is being used as the backdrop for the Starkiller Base, which we've seen depicted in photos as being set on an ice planet not unlike Hoth. Is Skellig Michael home to The First Order? Or is it the home world of The Sith? The Ireland sanctuary is known for it's wintery conditions. Though, the unique rock formations that reside their have also been rumored to house a hiding Luke Skywalker, who has placed himself in seclusion. It's possible that Skellig Michael is being used for a planet that has not been revealed in the previous photos or trailers. Right now, it doesn't sound like any cast members are returning for these reshoots. It's anybody's guess what this location is being used for. In other news, Colin Trevorrow is already prepping for his turn behind the camera on the trilogy ending sequel Star Wars: Episode IX, which doesn't hit theaters until 2019. Here is his latest tweet.