Dave Filoni – The Jedi News Interview – Part 1

JN:   Hi Dave, thank you very much for taking some time out.  I appreciate you’re pretty busy at the moment!
DF:   Yeah, no problem, no problem.
JN:   So, how are you doing?
DF:   Oh, you know super busy right now.  Juggling a lot, but everybody is on the show, so… pretty excited that we’re finally going to be coming out later this summer.
JN:   Cool, so is it all done and dusted or are you still putting the final touches to it?
DF:   No, just like, I think, any other movie… we’re working on it all the time, trying to make it better and still working on little tiny things right now.

Read on here

JN:   Just going back a couple of years, I think it’s a couple of years, you got a call that you didn’t think was necessarily real…
DF:   Right! (laughs)
JN:   So has it finally sunk in yet, you’re working where you always wanted to work, at LucasFilm?
DF:   Yeah, I think so, I mean, pretty immediately once I met George and once he confirmed me for the job, I had a big turnaround you know pretty much in a couple of days and said well, I gotta do this and I gotta help lead these people to do it – I just took it pretty seriously from the start, and every now and then though you get to sit back and look at where you are and that’s when you go “wow”, so it’s still a thrill, even to this day, but an interesting balance between getting wrapped up in it and having to actually do it.
JN:   Before you got the job, or even thought about getting the job, had you actually met George before?
DF:   No, never.
JN:   And how was that first meeting?
DF:   Pretty amazing, I had to really rush up here on an aeroplane which was an hour late and going into the meeting I was in the green room next to George’s office, and in that room there’s like a big statue of Boba Fett, a statue of Vader, statues of R2 and 3PO, I was like, “Wow, that’s really neat” but when Catherine was yelling through the office and I heard George’s voice, that was really when I was like, “Oh, wow, George Lucas is in the room next door” – pretty interesting.
JN:   And now that you’re there, and knowing that you’re going to be part of the legacy forever, how does that feel?
DF:   (Laughs) That’s the part that probably I don’t really see yet and I think a lot of people and crew who are all working hard… we’re so in the moment now, we don’t think of it as “Wow, we’re part of this legacy”.  I know we’re all trying to live up to the expectations and you know, the things that all the people who worked on Star Wars did before but I don’t know if that part will be really lasting for me until I’m done with it in the future and I look back and go, “Oh wow, those were some really neat things we got to do.”
JN:   We recently caught up with Anthony Daniels [more on that interview later this month]and he said that it was only last year that he finally realised about this whole legacy that he’d been part of, and it had taken him twenty-nine, thirty years to actually realise what this thing was, and for most of that time he didn’t appreciate it, and now he really, really appreciates it.  It’s quite interesting.  So, how is it, working alongside George, and how has that helped you in terms of the way that you do things?
DF:   Well, working with George has been great, and I can’t say enough good things about it… he’s been a really, really great mentor to me in every possible way, and I’ve really tried to be a student of how he does things from the way he sees the design to shot composition, and he’s taken a lot of time to go over that stuff with me, especially in editorial, when he takes footage and edits it and moves it around in the picture, and shows me some of the avenues that I wasn’t necessarily aware of, and he’s so experienced with it that for my editor, Jason Tucker, and I it’s been a real learning experience and I think that that’s probably one of the greatest things he’s brought to me is a sense of editing, and that Star Wars feeling that I can tell you is something that George really brings – there’s moments in the action where we think, “Oh, wow, that was really snappy” and it’s different from other stuff you go and see at the movies, and we would try and cut that, and George would come in and he’d just do it, and you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t think of moving that there, and look now it works.”
JN:    So, have you changed your methods at all?
DF:   I definitely have adapted things to like make Star Wars like George wants Star Wars to be and that was always the key thing for me.  I didn’t want to come here and make a Star Wars per se, my version of Star Wars you know…  I really wanted to go after what George wanted and how he wanted it done and I think the whole crew has done that, we’ve learned from George and you know we’ve added to all of our own individual styles whether it’s Killian Plunkett in early design or Darren sculpting or one of the directors, we all try and adapt to the George Lucas way and I think we’ve integrated it pretty well with our own style.
JN:   And when you move on, if you ever move on (DF laughs) will you take that with you?
DF:   I have too, absolutely.  I mean it’s a definite plus and a real gift to have been given this learning opportunity with George and I think it’s made a big difference on how I did things prior to being here and I’ll definitely use those tools that he taught me, you know, ever after.
JN:   So when you originally got the job you were told that you were going to produce a series is that right?
DF:   Yeah that’s correct
JN:   So when did the whole concept of releasing a film come into the equation?  This was never really on the cards when it was discussed at the Celebration events last year.
DF:   Right.  Well, there’s the thing, I mean, again I look at the team effort by the creative people at Lucas animation and we always set out to make the animated series as much like the films as we possibly could with the stylised influence and you know, the feeling that they have is what we were after, and I think because of that in a way we were always after that, that big screen appeal that Star Wars has, it just so happens that we were doing it for the small screen at the time we started, but we review a lot of this stuff with George on a big screen because we have these little home movie theatres throughout  Big Rock Ranch here and before that down at the main ranch, and George would look at this stuff on the big screen and say “wow this would look great – the fans should really see it this way”, so the germ of that idea kinda started when we were getting renders back really early on and showing George well this is what we really think it’s gonna look like and I think it just kinda grew on him over time and he would start saying “You know Dave we really ought to start thinking about putting this out as a movie” and think about what we should do to make that come together and we talked to Catherine about that and then before you know it we’re making a movie as well as a TV series and that was pretty exciting.
JN:    And are there going to be any more films?
DF:   I can’t say at this point, I really can’t say – we’re trying to get the first one done right now and the series.
JN:   There have been a lot of rumours floating around the internet over the last few days about there being three [films]…
DF:   I see that!
JN:   …and Chewbacca’s one of the main characters in the second film and Hasbro are being asked to make a figure and one thing and another.
DF:   That’s all very exciting stuff (laughs)…
JN:   What would you consider to be your greatest contribution so far to what you’ve done with the Clone Wars and if you could pick one thing and say “Hey, that was mine!” what would you say that is at the moment?
DF:   I was talking about that with some of the gang here since we had your questions and we all came up with different answers to that.  I think it runs counter to me to say “Hey that’s mine!” because I like to think of it as such a big collaboration of everybody.  Star Wars really to me is George’s thing and I try to make that happen, but I definitely think, and it’s been well documented, Plo Koon probably.  I don’t know that he would have turned up in the series at this point if I wasn’t on board because I really pushed for that early on, not to be a major influence in the Clone Wars serial but just to get him in there.  When I see a Lego figure of Plo Koon out, I kinda chuckle to myself and go “well I always wanted that figure and they weren’t making it so now I guess I kinda forced the issue”.
JN:    That was the next question I was going to ask you.  From the trailers, obviously Plo Koon was in there but how much of a role does he play within Clone Wars and within the series?
DF:   I really can’t say much specifically at this point, except to say that we’ve all been pretty happy with how he’s developed as a character and that’s one of the neat things we get to do, not just with Plo Koon but with a lot of the Jedis, to show what kind of a character they really are and a little bit more about them than just them swinging swords and that’s really a fun thing to do – I talk about it with George when we do it to make sure it’s what he wanted, and it’s fun – I’m really happy with Plo Koon’s character and I guess you’d hope I would be and I’m really excited about it.
JN:   Obviously his role would have been less without you.
DF:   Yeah – probably non-existent.  I keep joking with George about how he killed him in Revenge of the Sith and he should get a parachute in the special edition but he hasn’t budgeted on that yet [i.e. when Plo Koon Starfighter was shot down in Revenge of the Sith, Plo was wearing a parachute so he actually survived].
JN:   Well you never know, he might do that for you (DF laughs)!  If you could choose one character that you enjoyed working with most, would it be Plo or would it be somebody else?
DF:   That’s interesting too – these are all very tricky questions because I like so many of the characters…
JN:   Sorry!
DF:   No that’s fine; I want to give you the best answers possible.  You know I really think I liked working with Ashoka and probably because she’s the new character… oh, hang on one second [speaking to someone else… what’s up… oh, right now? Oh, ok, hang on one second, calls Megan and asks them to put them on hold].  This is a little development here; I’ve got to talk to George right now actually, so if you could just hang on? 
JN:   No problem
DF:   Sorry…
Megan, Dave’s assistant then came on the line and apologised but said that Dave needed to speak to George… if there was one person I didn’t mind waiting for it was ‘the maker’!
You’ll have to wait too… Come back on Tuesday for the second concluding part of our interview with Dave Filoni…

We’re really grateful to John, 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 2008 LucasFilm and Jedi News.  No part of this interview can be reproduced without prior written consent from Jedi News.

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.