Dave Filoni is the supervising director of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” He’s been responsible for keeping the animated version of “a Galaxy Far, Far Away” running like the hyperdrive motivator on the Millennium Falcon for the past four seasons. I had the opportunity to talk to Filoni about the process of making the show and what that entails.
Can you tell us what George Lucas’s involvement in the production of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is made up of for the critical fans out there?
The ideas and stories for “Star Wars” or “The Clone Wars” originate with him. Before we have a meeting with [our] six writers, there will be a small one with George Lucas, our producer Cary Silver, myself, and a sort of head writer which we anoint. I’ve had a couple of different ones over the years. That writer becomes the point person for helping me work through ideas and collaborations.
The three of us sit down with George. I have a list of ideas that I think would make a good episode because it’s my responsibility to hold the entire series together. George is busy with many projects. I present those ideas to George and he reads over them. We come back to this meeting and he says, “I like these, but we’re not going to do these. Additionally, these are other ideas I want to do.” The stories come out of those ideas. The majority of the time they’re all George’s from a standpoint of, “Let’s do a story about the water world of Mon Calamari.” That’s George originating that.
Then we all come together with a group of creative people with ideas and say, “Let’s lay this down.” George will be the first one to say, “There’s a king on Mon Calamari and there’s a civilization and it should feel like this.” He and I from the beginning of each story arc will hammer out what the visual aesthetic is going to be.
Give us an example.
I very much motivated the idea of bringing back the Death Watch. George wanted to do a story that involved Ahsoka Tano and Lux Bonteri so he brought them into the Death Watch story. He said the Death Watch should be more of a biker gang this time. They should be more fractured.
It’s a really great story session that we have directly with George to create every episode of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Once we figure out what the story lines are we hand them off to different writers. Cary Silver and I basically decide who’s going to get what stories to tell. We hand those off and then the writers go and create their four episodes. We get those stories back in and make a round of notes on them. I send all my notes to George.
This is kind of the “agree or disagree” moment for us. Those notes get compiled and all added into the script. It comes back to the writers to fix and then I get the script back again to take and explain to the episode director. I tell them at that point what staging I’d like to see and what the character’s demeanors are like. I do what a show runner would do. I explain the details.
That’s after I’ve gone over all the drawings that I’ve given artist Kilian Plunkett to show what George and I are talking about as far as what things look like. There are some things that come to mind during the process.
You mean ideas that come up during this whole process? Like what?
The character of Bocatan played by Katee Sackhoff was something that I wanted since I was directing the episode. I wanted to see a female Mandalorian. I thought that would be cool for fans. I added that kind of thing.
George never minds that sort of inclusion. I’ve gotten an idea of what he likes and doesn’t like to see in the show over the years. He screens the episode twice. The first time at a rough stage of pre-animation when the story is all blocked out. I have to get his approvals on that. He’ll give me notes on what he wants to change. That could be anything including dialogue that he’ll give me.
He then sees it in a color phase. He and I watch it together. He tells me what he thinks of it and gives me any notes. I address those notes at that time. Over the years, he’s kind of let go of some phases. George would be sitting right there with me the whole time for the first two seasons, teaching me how he wanted this show to be made and what his sensibility for “Star Wars” is.
I think I’ve always said George is our greatest asset on the show. All I have to do is call him if I have a question today about how a character would act or what they would think. That’s a luxury very few people who worked in the “Star Wars” universe have ever had.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Interview: Sam Witwer Talks About Playing Darth Maul for ‘The Clone Wars’
Interview with ‘Boba Fett’ Actor Daniel Logan for ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’
Interview: ‘Clone Wars’ Voice Actor Nika Futterman Talks About Assajj Ventress
Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Kenneth Branagh, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.