Tony Gilroy has spoken at length about how tight the scripts on “Andor” were and needed to be. But there’s tight and then there’s absolutely no extra material, which made the challenge of bringing the show together in the edit a question of adjusting the smallest details and points of focus. Two of the three Gilroy brothers, creator Tony and editor John, joined the Filmmaker Toolkit podcast to discuss pulling each storytelling block of “Andor” together, brick by Ferrix brick.
“We reshot a couple things — maybe three scenes, or something like that, because we thought we could do them better.” Tony Gilroy said. “We had a better idea and we were given the opportunity. [But] we do not have deleted scenes. There would be no DVD extras on our platter. Zero. It’s really weird. Very weird [and] very surprising to us.”
In fact, according to the Gilroy brothers, there weren’t even that many examples of places where scenes moved around or the structure of episodes was adjusted in the edit. One notable exception to the iron rigor of the “Andor” scripts occurred in Episode 6, “The Eye,” when the Scottish landscape — as stubborn as the Dani pilgrims making their way to view the incredible meteor shower that acts as cover for a rebel heist of the nearby Imperial base — asserted itself.
“The original top of [Episode 6] was Beehaz’s (Stanley Townsend) speech, right? It’ll be a very bravura thing and we’ll introduce him. It always just felt right,” Gilroy said. The scene establishes the Imperials on Aldhani as arrogant and oppressive of the indigenous population, waving away any qualms that audience might have about the rebel cell holding space-AKs to the officers’ heads. “[But] when we shot it, we had so much weather crap in Scotland that the opening scene — the scene where they’re having coffee and where Nemik (Alex Lawther) comes to Andor (Diego Luna) and says, ‘I couldn’t sleep,’ — [that almost wasn’t shot]. It was such a disaster. It wasn’t supposed to be in fog, it was supposed to be all these other things, but everybody quickly turned on a dime and we sort of embraced the Kurosawa kind of look.”
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“Because it’s so foggy and drifty and because it’s so weird and sort of otherworldly and dreamy, you couldn’t put it after the [Beehaz] sequence. It just didn’t feel like it felt in the script. It felt dreamier — and I don’t know whose idea [it was to] put this at the top and see how it works, but all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Yeah, this is the protein!’ This is where we want to be.”
The change in the order of the opening helps the sequence focus on who it needs to — Nemik and Andor — and grounds the entire episode not in the objective of the heist itself, but in what it means for Cassian. He comforts the nervous Nemik in the run-up, and that sense of care intensifies the emotional impact of Nemik’s death — a blow Cassian keeps feeling, even after he cuts and runs with his share of the stolen Imperial payroll at episode’s end. Starting with Nemik doesn’t necessarily put him at the center of the heist, but it does increase the plot’s life-or-death stakes. This one choice gives Nemik a voice that literally and figuratively echoes all the way to the end of the season, becoming the conscience urging Cassian forward.
That such a small alteration can do so much emotional damage to Cassian Andor (and to the audience) is evidence of the first season’s dialed-in nature. The finale, “Rix Road,” consists of a lot of montages of all the characters colliding in the same place at the same time. But the foundations were laid from the beginning, because “Andor” tailors itself in the script and in the edit around the characters first. Once that’s taken care of, Tony Gilroy and team look at the world of the show, and the details that illustrate the strong cultural foundations of its settings.
“Let’s have a society here. Let’s stratify it! So [in Ferrix] you have buyers and pickers and shop owners and grapplers and those gloves on the wall. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, all the gloves that they have and before they go [out of the] union hall every morning and where you hang your glove, is it where your father or your mother hung her gloves? Or is it a status thing? And those gloves means so much to me and it’s only one shot in the show,” Tony Gilroy said. “But we didn’t overshoot it. There’s not a lot of glove footage on the floor, but those are the points of entry, the kind of obsessive lunacy that we try to just infect all 700 people that are working at Pinewood Studios to be onto and everybody knows that they’re rewarded for going deep.”
The Filmmaker Toolkit podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and Stitcher. The music used in this podcast is from the “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present” score, courtesy of composer Nathan Halpern.