Dave Filoni interview: Star Wars The Clone Wars

One of the leading forces behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Mr Dave Filoni, settles into the Den Of Geek interview chair...

As season one of Star Wars: The Clone Wars arrives on DVD and Blu-ray, we got the chance to fire some questions at writer/director Mr Dave Filoni…

How much free reign do you get in regards to design? Does George Lucas have as much input in The Clone Wars as he does in the films?

Well, we have some really brilliant designers. Kilian Plunkett, Darren Marshall, to name a few. Their work is just amazing, and we all have a great time coming up with concepts. And George is very involved. In some cases, he will pull out a portfolio of used concepts, dating all the way back to 1977. Then we’ll use that as a starting point.

Many of the episodes feature visual references and in-jokes to the films, how much time do you spend on this and can we expect more of this in the future? What was your favourite ‘classic’ trilogy reference?

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It’s a lot of fun to include those references, but we try not to let it overshadow the stories we are trying to tell. In season one, we saw an early version of the Y-Wing fighter, which was just so cool. When the designs came in, they just spread through the offices like wildfire; everyone was excited. We made them cleaner and newer, as if the fighters from Episode IV were chopped down versions of this classic ship. So that was really fun.

Do you bring old ideas that you’ve had for character design, landscapes or action set-pieces and bring them to the ‘table’? Or are all the ideas brand new?

Ideas come from all over the place. Like I said, George has folder of used concepts from all of the live-action films; he never throws anything away. So it’s definitely a mix of new stuff and old stuff. And we are conscious to try to make designs that fit into the aesthetic of what has come before.

Are there any characters, species, landscapes or ships that George Lucas didn’t want brought back?

Initially, George didn’t want to include any bounty hunters. I’m glad he changed his mind, because they’re some of my favorite characters. They’ve allowed us to tell different kinds of stories, too. They’re old school Star Wars.

The opening crawl has gone in favour of a montage and voice-over, did that come from the design team or was it a directive from Lucasfilm?

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Well, we’re a different format, and we wanted to embrace that. And having a News on the March-style voiceover felt like a natural choice, since we are in the midst of a war.

Cad Bane proved to be hit with the fans despite only appearing in one episode in the first season. Can you tell us a little bit about his design and the thought processes behind such a retro looking bounty hunter?

He’s a fun one; I love Cad Bane. Actually, his species appears in the cantina scene of Episode IV, so it was fun to be able to see that reference. Beyond that, he was inspired by Lee Van Cleef’s character in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Using western terminology, I think Boba Fett’s always kind of been the man with no name – the strong, silent type. And Cad Bane’s the other side of the coin, a far as bounty hunters go.

A lot of people have said that the look and animation quality of the show has progressed throughout the first season, what is the thing that you think has improved the most in the show in the last 23 episodes?

We’ve improved so much, in every way. I’ve got an amazing crew, and they are constantly improving our work flow and our pipeline, and I think it shows. Plus, we have the benefit of being a Lucas company, and of working with the other Lucas divisions. So we get tips and tricks from ILM and from LucasArts, which has improved our process immensely.

Is the apparent unpopularity of certain aspects of the prequel trilogy (Jar Jar Binks, for example) something that you take into account when making the show? Is there a concerted effort to try and change fan opinion about certain things?

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No, we are just focused on telling Star Wars stories.

Will you be having any involvement in the live-action Star Wars show that’s currently in development? Would you revisit Clone Wars on the big screen?

Right now, we are just focused on our series.

Dave Filoni, thank you very much…

Star Wars: The Clone Wars season one is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.