As a lifelong Star Wars fan, Dave Filoni is living out his dream. He's now working alongside George Lucas as the supervising director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the CG-animated television series of the saga. The weekly 30-minute episodes depict stories that happened between the second and third installments of the Star Wars film series.
Filoni is no stranger to the animation world. Starting out as an assistant director of the Emmy-winning King of the Hill, Filoni has been working with top animation studios such as Walt Disney Television Animation, where he has contributed to Teamo Supremo, Lilo & Stitch and Dave the Barbarian.
What do you feel most excited about with the TV animation series?
Probably the most exciting thing is the number of different stories that we can tell. The episodes are not just about big battles or explosions like in the movies. Here we can develop new characters that were not in the films and put more into the original characters.
Why did you adapt Star Wars into a CG animation?
George Lucas has been interested in animation since his days at the University of Southern California. One of the first classes he took in film school was animation, something he always wanted to explore.
What are the main challenges in the project?
One of the big challenges is that because the Star Wars saga is so well known there is a super high expectation level that comes with it. We knew fans demanded quality on the feature film level, thus we had to develop a really intense television show that would meet their expectations. We built studios here in San Francisco and in Singapore. There are lots of technical and creative challenges.
How did CG technology help in enhancing the storytelling of the Star Wars saga?
It was new for me because I came from a 2D animation background. What's really surprising is computer animation has allowed us to do a lot larger-scaled battles.
What can you tell us about the new character Ahsoka, the female teenage Jedi knight?
When we first started doing the series, George told us he had this idea Anakin Skywalker had a Padawan learner [an apprentice]. Henry Gilroy [producer and storywriter of the animated series] and I had been developing a female Padawan because we thought it was about time we had a girl move to the forefront, and George thought it was a good idea. It's exciting to bring her into all those legendary characters such as Anakin and Obi-wan and see how her character affects those really well-known characters.
Can we expect more new characters in the coming episodes?
Oh yeah. That's the really great thing that we see characters we know, like Anakin and Obi-wan, but we have also introduced many new characters. You'll see new villains, vehicles and environment. Some of them are brand new and some you saw already in the backgrounds of the films. We got to really develop characters in the animations.
Is the TV animation trying to tap into a younger generation of fans?
I think that was the initial feeling by people when they heard there was a Star Wars animation, they saw it as a cartoon but really we've made this series to be just true to the classic story. I think people probably saw the original Star Wars movie as something for kids but it resonated with people of all ages. Our hope is they feel the same way about this animated series.
How did you get involved in directing the show?
I was working with Nickelodeon and a colleague of mine recommended me for this job. By then, I wasn't even aware that Lucasfilm was even doing this show but I am a big Star Wars fan. So I went to the interview and it just worked out. I guess I happened to have what they were looking for.
What was it like working with George Lucas?
Pretty amazing, George has always been great to work with. He is really taking on the role of a mentor for me. He always challenges me to make it better and better.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars begins today at 8pm on TVB Pearl