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.
What do you do to tie the Expanded Universe, the movies, the comics, and everything together?
At the end of the day it’s a rather simple formula. The big thing that I’m held to is working with the films. George Lucas has his six “Star Wars” films which our series is meant to work in continuity with. He also has his many scripts that he’s written for the live-action “Star Wars” project that in different ways can affect certain things that we’ve done.
George works with us to make sure all the stories that he’s written over the years, the films, and his various TV projects work in concert with one another. I will bring up different things to George that I’ve read or that I know have happened in the comic books or the novels. It’s really up to him. He’s the final word on whether we continue with that line of thinking or whether we scrap it in favor of something new. In that way, those properties are very much an expanded universe of ideas. Sometimes things cross over, but for the most part our main and only real continuity is with the films themselves and the other feature projects.
There’s a jaded faction of “Star Wars” fans who have this idea George isn’t really hands on anymore. They see him as this god-like man that just sits up at his house and looks for ways to make money off of “Star Wars.” Can you clear up this misconception?
That’s not true. I can tell you that. From one fan to another, George loves “Star Wars.” He really loves the characters in the universe. I’ve had a great time working with him for seven years in that universe. It’s been a great thrill as you can imagine.
When you’re a fan of something and you go to meet the creator of that, you always wonder what it’s going to be like. It’s been a great experience to this day. I look forward to the new stuff we’re doing and I think next season people are going to be even more excited by what we’re bringing to the table.
The show just keeps getting better and better looking every season. You’re consistently stepping up the production and moving forward technologically. I really enjoyed the tracking shot through the train in the episode “Bounty.” It really looked like a camera was being pushed through the train and up the stairs. Tell us how you’re achieving things like that.
I give a lot of credit to Kyle Dunlevy, who directed that episode. Kyle and his team did a really brilliant job with the camerawork in “Bounty.” We’ve been taught this cinematic language by George in the editorial room. We have a system of pre-visualization that we’ve worked on for this show.
Everything exists as a virtual set. We are basically filming with virtual cameras. There isn’t a story board for what we do. We basically arrive on these digital sets every day at the computer and we shoot it like live-action footage. We can shoot coverage, multiple angles, and the scene always repeats itself. You can shoot as many angles as you like. We have these really elaborate tracking or chain of event cameras.
That’s something we’ve learned as our vocabulary has improved as filmmakers. It’s another way we can get our show to be a bit different and hopefully make it feel more like the live-action “Star Wars” experience people love so much. I think we’ve done it in various forms that might not always be recognizable. We had some massive fly-in shots that go from way up in the sky way down onto the surface and then pan across the landscape in “Citadel.” Its stuff we’ve been experimenting with.
I think the situation on the train lent itself really well to explaining that particular shot. It was very obvious and really worked well introducing the characters and what they’re doing. Maybe it’s our most successful use of it to date. It will come up in the future. Once one director sees it as working stylistically, they get kind of competitive with each other to see who can do the best one of those shots.
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.