EXPLORING THE GALAXY
CLONE WARS Director Dave Filoni and Executive Producer George Lucas Discuss the Latest STAR WARS Adventure
On Aug. 15, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Warner Bros. Pictures will release the first-ever animated STAR WARS feature film - STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. This expansive space adventure explores the galaxy-changing Clone Wars, a period of intense battle and grand adventure that takes place between STAR WARS: Episode II Attack of the Clones and STAR WARS: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. In this interview, STAR WARS creator George Lucas and CLONE WARS director Dave Filoni discuss this groundbreaking new movie from Lucasfilm Animation.
How did the idea of an animated STAR WARS movie come about?
GEORGE LUCAS: The interesting thing about the Clone Wars is that in the normal course of the six STAR WARS films that tell the Skywalker saga, that whole story of what happened during this time is not told - it's skipped over. We have a little bit of the beginning in Episode II and a little bit of the end in Episode III. But, obviously, during a war there are lots and lots of stories - very exciting action, drama, heartbreak, even humor. The idea of doing an animated version of THE CLONE WARS was intriguing to me because it really allows us to tell other stories, show other Jedi, introduce new characters and even tell stories about the clones themselves. Some of them have very interesting stories. It allows us to broaden the canvas of what STAR WARS is about.
DAVE FILONI: One of the things that has always surprised me is how many stories there are to tell in what seems like a small amount of time. The period between Episodes II and III was only about three years. But we can tell so many new stories and meet new characters and go new places - places I never imagined we could.
What does animation bring to the STAR WARS Saga?
GEORGE LUCAS: Right from the very beginning, we knew we wanted to use CG animation in a way that hasn't been seen before. We think we've ended up with something that is very new and different. Stylistically, a CG-animated film is quite different from a live-action movie. Animation opens up the possibilities of what you can accomplish. Animation is like a sketchpad.
DAVE FILONI: There is infinite flexibility when we do a scene. We don't have to go dig for original props or call actors back to reshoot. With animation, we can look at a scene in editorial, then go back and redo it completely differently the next day. That would be impossible in live-action. We have all of our sets, all of our actors at our disposal at all times. We can make things the way we'd like to see them, which is really exciting.
What can you tell us about the newest STAR WARS heroine, Ahsoka?
GEORGE LUCAS: Anakin and Obi-Wan have a great relationship, but we've seen their dynamic in the movies.
DAVE FILONI: We always felt it was important to have a character whose temperament is somewhere between Anakin's and Obi-Wan's. Anakin will just jump in anywhere, while Obi-Wan wants to think things through before taking action. Ahsoka appreciates Anakin's brashness but admires Obi-Wan's patience and thoughtfulness. She has a lot to learn from both of them, but is strong and capable in her own right, so she sometimes surprises Anakin with her approach to the kinds of situations they find themselves in. She makes a great counterpoint to Anakin - visually, in her personality, her attitude. She sort of drives him crazy, but he grows very attached to her, as you'll see in the movie.
GEORGE LUCAS: In the STAR WARS films, there's a tradition of someone being taken on an amazing journey and learning to become a Jedi - Luke was a farm boy swept up in the Rebel Alliance. Anakin was a little boy on Tatooine. In THE CLONE WARS, Anakin is no longer a Padawan. He's a Jedi. So Ahsoka takes on that role of the younger person who is being taught, who adds the dynamic that a "student" brings to the story. We bounced back and forth on a lot of ideas about her - would she be human or alien, male or female? We thought a girl would be just more fun to have in the story.
THE CLONE WARS gives you a great chance to explore characters outside of the Skywalker saga. Who are some of your favorites?
GEORGE LUCAS: I've always liked Duros - the blue aliens from the cantina scene in A New Hope. They're a derivation of Neimoidians - Neimoidians are greener. Wrinklier.
DAVE FILONI: For me, it's the Jedi Council. I love the opportunity to explore these characters we saw so briefly, but who are in their time legendary - Kit Fisto, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Luminara, Plo Koon ...
GEORGE LUCAS: If it were up to Dave, Plo Koon would be in every scene! It's great that Dave's got characters he really cares about, and who don't have to just be in battles or short scenes or in the background somewhere.
DAVE FILONI: That's what's really important. I care about these characters, and what happens to them, how they evolve in the film - that's an adventure we're really excited to show in the movie.
How would you describe the look of THE CLONE WARS?
GEORGE LUCAS: In THE CLONE WARS, all of the characters and the environments look almost like they're painted, which gives the movie a very distinctive look. We also drew some influences from manga and anime in our filmmaking style, which have very dramatic lighting and very aggressive framing.
DAVE FILONI: STAR WARS is already so brilliantly designed, if you look at the art direction of the feature films. It was important to maintain that integrity but give the audience something they haven't seen before. The look is more stylized. It's not concerned with photorealism; it's more concerned with establishing its own visual reality, kind of in the same way a painter might use different techniques to create different looks. We're using CG as a tool to create a stylized reality.
GEORGE LUCAS: I think we've created some unusual, cinematic-style storytelling, something completely different from anything else in animation.