Dave Filoni – The Jedi News 3rd Birthday Interview

As part of our birthday celebrations we always like to give something back and first off, here’s our interview with our good friend Mr Clone Wars himself, Dave Filoni…

JN:  We last caught up with you at Fan Days III in Dallas where we were able to spend some real quality time with you; the team from the ForceCast and I spent a couple of hours discussing all manner of things with you including fandom.  How important are the fans to you considering that you’re such a big fan yourself?
DF:  The fans are very important. Would Star Wars be around more than 30 years later without the fans? Star Wars fans are very unique – they are passionate, and many have found ways to use their fandom to benefit others through charity work.

Read on here

JN:  Obviously, it’s very hard to be objective but what do you make of the story we’re seeing played out in the Clone Wars?  Is this what you expected when you took the job?
DF:  I had no idea what to expect when I started working on The Clone Wars. I wasn’t even sure Anakin and Obi-Wan would play a significant role at the time. Now, five years later, I’m amazed at what we have accomplished as a group, and I think the stories have gotten better and better. We are always challenging ourselves and trying to improve what we do. Everyday the unexpected happens and that makes the team more creative and resilient.

JN:  Everybody dreams of meeting George, let alone working with him and creating part of the Star Wars universe, now you been working with him for over two years has your perceptions changed and are you still learning from the Master?
DF:  It has been a great privilege to learn from George; he is an excellent teacher. My perception about movie making, editing, shooting has all been greatly influenced by George. I still have a lot of tendencies that I had before my days on Clone Wars, but I understand so much more of what I am trying to do and why, and how to guide the team to a successful end. Working with George is like taking a master class, and every episode is a chance for me and my team to prove to him that we have listened and learned.

JN:  Do you ever question any of his decisions?
DF:  Of course, I would not be a very good student if I didn’t ask questions, and I think once or twice a year I am right. But the other 98 percent of the time, it’s all George. Whenever I really don’t want to change something, he always tells me that we can always put it back the way it was. But we rarely do, because most of the time he’s right.

JN:  There was a lot of backlash over the whole Mandalore issue from the EU community – where do you stand on this?
DF:  I totally respect the fans of Mandalore, and I knew what we were doing would be a bit contentious with that hard core group. But no decision is made lightly, and I think that when the bigger picture of the Clone Wars is revealed, a lot of things these things will fall into place. I’m always open to hearing what people have to say, but at the end of the day I sit down with George to get the details of every story we do. That’s an opportunity that few ever get, and I take that time very seriously. I work with George to understand what he wants, why he wants things a certain way, and then I strive to get that vision up on screen.

JN:  Season 2 was dubbed The Rise of the Bounty Hunters but some people have been critical that we’ve only seen them in about 5 or 6 episodes although we now know that the final three episodes featured them heavily – do you still think this was the right title for Season Two?
DF:  When Season Two is over, I think the biggest impact players you’ll remember are indeed the Bounty Hunters.

JN:  Some fans believe that one of the things that made Boba Fett so special is that we never knew his motivation.  In Attack of the Clones we saw Mace Windu kill his father, Jango, and we’re about to see that story played out further.  Are you worried to fans reactions to Boba Fett’s [or Boosk’s] back stories being fleshed out in the Clone Wars?
DF:  I am very careful with how we portray characters like Boba Fett. As a fan I understand that the mystery is an important part of his character. I am not worried about it because I know that what we are doing is the way George wants the character to be portrayed, and I think the crew did a great job telling his story. I’m very proud of that story arc.
JN:  Season 2 kept getting better and better, there seems to be much less comedy [between the Battle Droids etc] this time around, was that a conscious decision?
DF:  A lot of the stories were darker by nature, and we tried to add comedy where we could. This season I wanted to look more at the chemistry between the leads – like Anakin and Obi-Wan – and work on their humor. It’s not as slapstick as with the droids, and it’s more difficult to achieve. My favorite moment was in Voyage of Temptation, when Anakin comes out of the elevator with Obi-Wan. There’s an emergency on the ship, and Anakin says, “I’ll handle this, you go after your girlfriend.” Obi-Wan acts in agreement at first, then realizes Anakin is making a joke; it catches him. That worked great, and the scene came out of the voice record when James, Matt and I were talking about the situation. I paraphrased some lines and Matt and James performed it. It was just perfect. 

JN:  What’s been your favourite episode of Season 2 and also your favourite character?
DF:  Hard to say, the episodes are all so different, and there are things to like about each one. At least I think so. I like Landing at Point Rain for the scale of the battle, I love the Boba trilogy for the characters – and Jaime as Aurra, she’s just devilish. And I’m always very partial to ones I direct, so I like Lethal Trackdown a lot. A character? Tera Sinube was great, Aurra was great. There were many great characters and performances this season. I also really like where we are taking Ahsoka; just wait until you see her in Season Three.

JN:  You’ve revealed that you voiced the character of Embo in the episode entitled Bounty Hunters, how hard was it keeping that a secret from the rest of the cast?
DF:  It wasn’t hard at all, I’m not very big on doing voices, it just happened and the crew liked it and only Nic – my editor – really knew it was me for the longest time. But people liked it and the performance was just the way [Steward Lee, the episode’s director] and I wanted it, so we kept it. Sometimes that happens, but it was never something that I thought much about. It was only later that people really seemed more interested; I was just glad I wasn’t terrible.
JN:  Do you know if we’ll see Embo immortalised as a Hasbro figure yet?
DF:  I’m not sure, but I hope so. He has a nice hat.

JN:  Will we see Embo return in any future episodes?
DF:  Again, I could say but I won’t. Sorry. I think it is safe to say a lot of people liked Embo, so that usually bodes well for a character.

JN:  With Season 2 coming to an end on the small screen have you readied and recorded the commentaries for each episode as you did for the Season 1 DVD and Blu-ray releases and is there any exciting extras that you can tell us about that we’ll see with these releases?
DF:  We work all year on gathering as much extra material as we can, and I have commentaries scheduled throughout the season, so I hope there is some good stuff there for the fans. I always think Killian Plunkett has the most interesting stuff to say, personally

JN:  With work progressing on Season 3 can you tell us if we’ll start to see a progression in the Clone Armour?
DF:  Well, there are clues about Season Two; there will be a couple things changing, but I’m not saying yet.

JN:  We’ve learnt from Nika Futterman (voice of Ventress) that she gets a three part story arc in Season 3 where we learn her motivations – will you be using any of the previous material that we saw in the Gendy series for this or will it be all new material/story?
DF:  Any stories we would tell come straight from George, so you’ll have to wait and see. If she comes back, I don’t think the fans will be disappointed.

JN:  Can you tell us what else we may see in Season 3?
DF:  I would love to, but it’s always far more interesting for you to just watch; I couldn’t describe it and do it justice. But it’s bigger and better than Season Two. We were able to accomplish things visually that we wouldn’t even try before.

JN:  Lucasfilm have announced that there’s another animated series in the works.  Are you and your team involved in that in any way or do you think it will have any effect on the Clone Wars?
DF:  The new show doesn’t affect what we do. It’s completely separate, and I look forward to watching it. They have a great crew of people who all love Star Wars as much as any of us, and I think that’s a formula for success. 

JN:  Your Facebook page has become increasingly popular and you/Meagan promised us a special treat at Celebration V if you reached a specific membership target – now we’ve eclipsed that can you give us any indication of what we can expect?
DF:  Negative, negative, I don’t think we’ve hit the number that Meagan set out to hit – yet. Get more people logging on! I enjoy the fan page and Meagan does a lot of scrambling to get info for the fans. I even try to answer questions when I can.

JN:  What are you most looking forward to from Celebration V?
DF:  The whole thing, I’m excited about the whole thing. Last Celebration no one knew what Clone Wars was and we showed our very early work. Now people know the series, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone and talking Star Wars. Sounds like a great time to me. If there was one thing I looked forward to in particular it would be the costumes people make – I hope there are some Satines, some Banes and who knows what else. The fans are always impressive with their creativity.

JN:  Thanks, as always, for your time and we look forward to catching up with you at Celebration V!
DF:  See you there!

We’re really grateful to Josh, Megan and especially Dave (as well as everybody at LucasFilm) for making this happen and giving up their time – it’s very much appreciated.

Dave Filoni Interview: Copyright 2010 LucasFilm and Jedi News.  No part of this interview can be reproduced without prior written consent from Jedi News.  Dave Filoni and James Burns image courtesy of our friends at MintInBox.net.

James is an active member of the Star Wars collecting community, and is the Brand Director for Jedi News. James is also the host of the Star Wars Collectors Cast, and co-host of RADIO 1138 on the Jedi News Network.