SDCC: Interviews From the Star Wars: Clone Wars Panel (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Date: Tuesday, July 29, 2008
When the credits began to roll after Star Wars Revenge of the Sith many thought that it was the end of Star Wars (at least at the movie theater). We all had a heard of a live action TV show and the possibility of another cartoon. This year at the San Diego Comic Con, we learned that Star Wars is far from over.
All the hoopla, if not most of the hoopla, was to promote the new Star Wars The Clone Wars animated film, coming to theaters August 15, 2009. The film is a giant introduction to the new Star Wars animated series set to premiere on Ted Turner’s TNT Network and the Cartoon Network. Currently titled Clone Wars, the first season will debut in the fall of 2008.
Warner Brothers and Lucasfilm brought the Supervising Director, Dave Filoni and Producer, Catherine Winder to Comic Con to showcase a few breathtaking scenes and answer a few questions.
Robert Trate: What is the danger element in the series? Considering we have characters like Obi-Wan and Anakin who can’t die, how will you hurt them emotionally?
Dave Filoni: That’s a real trick in how well you tell the story to make the audience believe that they are actually in jeopardy. That was one of the things that the prequel was trying to overcome. We were always waiting to see Anakin turn to the Dark Side. One of the things we have done by introducing Ahsoka (Anakin’s Padawan) is have a character we don’t know anything about that we have thrown into the middle of these guys and we know that one of them, her master in particular, becomes Darth Vader. Seriously we have this young person and we have seen Anakin kill young people in the temple…who is under the tutelage of this guy. I don’t think this makes him a bad teacher because we’re trying to make him the hero and a good guy. I take a lot of pages of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker for this version of Anakin Skywalker. I always describe him to the writers and crew that I want him to be cocky like Han Solo, he’s a grease monkey who likes to fix his own car. But he’s naïve like Luke because he’s been taken from Tatooine and thrown into this larger world. He might be skilled enough to walk around in it but he’s not emotionally prepared to walk around in it.
Robert Trate: Dave, you’ve just been given access to the Star Wars toy chest. What does that feel like to have all those toys at your disposal?
Dave Filoni: It’s pretty amazing you know and I am pretty excited about it. At the same time I have a great deal of respect for it. I don’t like to mess with things I see as big cannon characters. I don’t lightly bring in characters like we know, like Grand Moff Tarkin or things like that. I don’t like to go near those things because I don’t feel as if I am the person to define them. I think it is up to George to define those things. If he should bring them in, if we create a character and he says let’s make that or let’s change that to so and so from the original movies at least I know it’s him doing that. I don’t presume to be a guy who is going to define things. I’d rather create new things in the Star Wars universe, new characters like Ahsoka and say okay I feel a little more comfortable putting my stamp on that. Design wise I try and stay faithful to what we all know because obviously people like it.
There are numerous writers and creators that have a hand in Star Wars books, comics and movies. Catherine Winder was brought to both animated projects (the movie and the series) to give the show its broad appeal.
Robert Trate: Catherine, I noticed that that Christopher Lee will return as Count Dooku in the Star Wars The Clone Wars movie and not the Clone Wars series why?
Catherine Winder:(smiling) Christopher Lee is a good film actor. The thing about the series is we produce it unlike any typical TV show. We are constantly changing the dialogue and writing and refining it. It’s a TV schedule… so you have a typical TV schedule, plus all the changes. It is really hard to get some actors to give us their time.
Robert Trate: So will Corey Burton reprise the role from the original Clone Wars mini series?
Catherine Winder: Yes, he is still in the movie though as another character. He’s great and will really like him. We’re lucky to have him.
Robert Trate: This is the first Star Wars film not to have the 20th Century Fox fan fare in front of it. What was the reasoning to go with Warner Brothers over Fox?
Catherine Winder: It was the whole package Warner Brothers brought to the picture. The fact that Lucasfilm had a previous relationship with the Cartoon Network and the fact that they could distribute the movie and there was TNT. They have been a fantastic partner. It just made a lot of sense for where the franchise is at this time and its development.
Robert Trate: Henry Gilroy is involved with the project, now he has written Star Wars comics for Dark Horse (Star Wars Tales). Who noticed his work and how was he brought to the project?
Catherine Winder: I was responsible for hiring the writers and figuring out how we were going to do that. I read lots and lots of different writers and met with different people. Also at the same time I was searching for the director. I asked people who they thought would do this well and Henry’s name came up a lot... and just the fact that he had such a strong background in Star Wars was truly helpful. Both he had Dave obviously do.The combination of the three of us was good because I didn’t. We weren’t writing this strictly for the fan base. We were trying to broaden the audience and so we spent a lot of time hashing out things to make sure that I could understand what they were talking about and that it wasn’t too “in”.
Robert Trate: With there being a time constraint for the series placing it between episodes two and three, how long do you think you can make a series like this last?
Catherine Winder: Well, George has said a 100 episodes and he’s the master. I am always amazed how many ideas he comes up with.
Catherine Winder later revealed that fifty episodes have been written and the first twenty-two episodes of season one have been completed. The first ten of the second season have also been started.
Star Wars The Clone Wars may just be the saving grace to a franchise that has its following but has lost many that have grown weary of where it went after the last three films. With a weekly series and the chance to really develop the characters, Anakin Skywalker may finally have that emotional journey we were all hoping to see in the films.