Come Friday and the Force will again be with us. Cartoon Network is presenting the Indian television premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars The computer-animated series, from Lucasfilm Animation based on its epic space opera Star Wars, conceived by George Lucas.
Lucasfilm Animation began preproduction on Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2005, shortly after the release of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. For the past three years, teams of animators, artists and storytellers in northern California and at production facilities in Singapore and Taipei have worked together to create one of the most unique animated television series in history.
Lucasfilm Animation has produced 22 episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars for the series first season. Each week, a new story in the galaxy-changing Clone Wars will be brought to the screen on Fridays at 8.30pm on Cartoon Network starting February 13. Dave Filoni, the series supervising director, responds to queries from t2.
What can viewers expect to surprise them in Star Wars: The Clone Wars?
The Star Wars films provided an incredible universe of characters, but the vast majority were limited to background roles, appearing only when they intersected with the story of Anakin and Luke. In The Clone Wars, we get to explore a lot of these characters and really grow them into three-dimensional individuals. For example, all we know about Jedi Knight Kit Fisto from the live-action films is that hes got a killer smile. Now we have the chance to find out more, to dig into his story. Personally, I was always intrigued by Plo Koon, a Jedi who barely had any screen time at all. In the series, though, there can be entire episodes dedicated to him. Its really interesting to see where each of them come from, and how they individually interpret their responsibilities as Jedi protectors. Again, this is Star Wars through and through, but were going to be exploring sides of the classic story that we havent yet seen.
What are some of the challenges of creating a new chapter to the Star Wars saga?
With a series like The Clone Wars, addressing the challenges is what makes my job fun. Were working within a very established universe, so we have to be respectful of that, but we also want to stretch within those limitations to create something new. Part of our fun has been going back over the stories with George and creating episodes that uncover or reveal ideas that can be quite surprising. Fans will find that the back story isnt always as predictable as they might like to believe. Think back to Darth Vaders big revelation at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. That threw us all for a loop, and the fans went wild debating that issue until Return of the Jedi was released. I like to think that there are some interesting revelations in our series, too, which may make fans look at some of the existing saga in a new way. Virtually anything is possible. Its definitely a delicate balance, though, but thats the fun part.
How do you ensure youre bringing George Lucas vision to animation?
Well, thats easy. George is always on hand to ensure that his visions being realised. While hes not involved in every day-to-day decision, hes got a very hands-on approach, and his influence and direction are definitely still very important to the series. Actually, when I started on the project, he sat down with some of us to teach us how to make Star Wars. We all had our own preconceptions after growing up with the Saga for the past 30 years, but George is obviously the final word. He knows Star Wars better than anyone, because he is Star Wars. Everything came from his imagination, so it was really interesting to hear from the source, to get an understanding of where it comes from, and how and why.
Is there an underlying message or concept behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars?
One of the interesting things about Star Wars is that people really tend to internalise the Jedi philosophy. Its never explicit or hamfisted, and it doesnt come across as preachy, because its such an integral part of the Star Wars saga. In our series, we get to look at the different Jedi, each of whom has a slightly different relationship to the Force and to the Jedi Order. Its interesting to see those differences, and to examine the nature of the Force from those different angles. That said, we also open each episode with what we call a Jedi cookie. Its a short phrase that summarises the episodes theme simply and concisely, as if handed down from the Jedi Order.
You are particularly fond of one character, Plo Koon. Why?
Well, Star Wars has a long history of introducing seemingly minor characters who go on to ignite fan imagination. In the original trilogy, Boba Fett has just a little bit of screen time and only a few lines, but he went on to become one of the fan favourites. I guess Plo Koons kind of like my Boba Fett; there was just something about him that really intrigued me. In the three prequels, he had less than five minutes of screen time, total, before getting shot down by his own clones. Its fun to be able to flesh out his character a bit.