Coexisting in the Star Wars Universe: Star Wars Rebels Producer Dave Filoni Interview #StarWarsRebelsEvent
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This event was hosted by Disney. All travel & accommodations were provided by Disney.
If you’ve been following along on my Rogue One journey, then you know that I visited Lucasfilm HQ at the beginning of December. Most of you have heard me talk about my interviews with the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story cast/director and you’ve heard about my guided tour of Lucasfilm HQ. What you may not know is that one of our first activities at Lucasfilm HQ was a screening of two upcoming Star Wars Rebels episodes (which tie into Rogue One) and an interview with Executive Producer, Dave Filoni.
I felt quite special that we got to screen these upcoming Star Wars Rebels episodes because apparently, we were the only press to it! Being that there’s a tie-in with Rogue One, everyone was begging to see it. Ahh… Disney bloggers sure do get treated well. So, we (24 other bloggers and I) watched the episodes, with our eyes glued to the screen just like a child’s would be. There were even moments that made us emotional. As if we didn’t love Star Wars rebels enough already – the entire experience made us fall in love even more.
Coexisting in the Star Wars universe
One major thing Executive Producer, David Filoni wanted to express is that “it’s all one big story“. He explained how there may be movies, books, and shows, but it’s all the same characters. Each creative form is delivering a different part of the story – an untold piece. “So, I [already] know Saw because I helped introduce the character of Saw (in ‘Clone Wars’).” He told us how he helped with portions of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by answering any questions about Saw.
It’s a bunch of people having discussions and talking about the things they like, things they don’t like. Getting different opinions. I always feel strongly about them going off and making their [own] choices. I did Saw for the part that I had to do him. And CLONE WARS set him up but I was excited that anybody could see where that went. So if anything, you’re more involved and that’s a huge plus. ‘Cause you get to see it. But at the same time it’s like you’ve seen it and you’ve read it.
As far as adding to the Star Wars Universe, David Filoni doesn’t give himself the credit he deserves. “A good story didn’t need me. The Star Wars universe was great before I got there; it’ll be great long after I’m gone.” I’d say the giant Star Wars Rebels fanbase would beg to differ. He doesn’t claim these stories as his own: “I’m privileged to be in a position where I get to add to it. I’m very grateful for that.” He can deny his impact on the Star Wars world all he wants, but when we see the new, beloved characters that David Filoni and his team has come up with – we all know who to thank.
I think it’s telling the stories that’s been long overdue. That’s the great part. And it’s fun when you have a tie-in but I like it when it’s more of a wink. It’s not something that was ever missing, if it was important, they would have done it.
He does have a point. Don’t ya think? Although, now that he’s started he can’t ever stop. We are always going to want to know more and more. I am personally not satisfied that a characters story is fully told until I feel like I know their next move. I want to feel like I’ve known these characters my entire life and I believe that David Filoni is the one man that can make that happen.
Saw is Forrest Whitaker. Forrest Whitaker is Saw!
I will not leave you in anticipation. Forrest Whitaker is in Star Wars Rebels. Just as he was Saw in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, he is on the animation team, too. As soon as you hear the voice of Saw you’ll know it’s Forrest.
It was a huge benefit to us. We have an attitude about the characters. Which is, if the person that kind of originates the role, the person – especially on screen, we want as much continuity for the audience as possible.
Finally, someone gets it! Dear filmmaking universe, we do not want you to switch out actors! Kill them off if you have to, but don’t give us a new actor and pretend it never happened. As die-hard fans, we hate that! There. I said it.
Dave goes onto explain how it’s nice having actors who are big Star Wars fans working with them. “And so when we say the character’s gonna continue, they would absolutely like to continue being the character. They don’t really care what form it’s in.” So, if you’re wondering how to get a huge actor like Forrest Whitaker be a voice in an animated film – that’s how you do it! You bribe them with their fandom.
They’re always incredibly gracious and super fun to work with. It might not be the last one you see in that regard, on REBELS.
Mic Drop. That’s all he told us about that little (MAJOR) tid-bit. I wonder who’s next? Let the rumors spread like wildfires.
Balancing the adult/child audience
One of the main goals of Star Wars Rebels was to make it kid-friendly. Dave Filoni and George Lucas wanted parents to not only watch Star Wars Rebels with their children, they wanted them to feel comfortable with their children watching it alone. Dave also wanted to keep the feeling alive for kids that he got when he watched Star Wars as a child.
My whole goal is never to take that experience away from kids, is to involve everybody in it, to make it a place where the best compliment we can give for the series is that it’s something that the family watches together.
Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without the dark side – the battles, the villains, the frightening moments. Do you really want your children seeing the things that kept you up at night when you were a child? Don’t be so quick to worry. Remember, Star Wars Rebels was ultimately made for children.
Things get dark at times. But you always have to monitor that. Fairy tales have frightening moments in them. Otherwise when you shine bright and things are good all the time, it doesn’t shine as well.
But that’s what you want – kids to be afraid of the bad guys, because they’re evil. And they recognize that. And so I just always think of those stories I had as a kid and those relationships I had. And I try to make something that’s not as much for myself but for my younger self. But my older self will still watch it and be like, that’s cool. It’s a delicate balance.
Wow, beautifully told. Dave Filoni is right on the money when he says that he creates for his younger self. I wonder how many other producers think they way he does. How many people write and create and produce based on their current self. That’s an interesting thought.
What it’s like to work directly with George Lucas
I think we all wonder what it would be like to work with a creative genius, such as George Lucas. Are their minds too complex for us to even understand? Sometimes they are, but George Lucas was an inspiration for Dave Filoni every step of the way. He described working with him as “going to film school on a daily basis with George Lucas“. It wasn’t easy though. Dave didn’t just fall into a working relationship with George. He had to earn everything. He had to prove to him that they could work together. Eventually, George felt comfortable enough to leave it in Dave’s hands. Not to say that it wasn’t challenging.
You’ll never notice as many mistakes as you have made until you are sitting next to the person you need to show it to. So we’d edit an episode all over and over and over again. And he’d come and sit down with my editor and I’d be like, ohhhhhhh, why didn’t we fix that?
Dave Filoni took full advantage of his time with George Lucas. “And everything that he taught me I recall, I wrote down. And I keep teaching that to people today, no matter who it is, that I come across in the story of STAR WARS saga.” I wonder what kind of leverage that gives him when working with others. Just drop the name and everyone’s ears perk up.
Dave describes how George taught him a lot about the editorial work and how they’d work so hard and make so many changes that finally they’d decide it was finished. George Lucas would say, “You know, we’re right on the edge at this time, this is either really gonna work, or people are gonna hate it. But we’re gonna go for making this great.”
Dare to Be Great – George Lucas
Dave talked about how that was such a simple saying, but so impactful because sometimes you don’t realize how much fear holds you back from being great. “And in STAR WARS as with everything, fear is the root of everything that is failure and jealousy and greed and evil. My real education, is in The Force. That was the biggest education.”
Star Wars Rebels giveth and Star Wars Rebels taketh away – Klick Klack
One of the deepest connections I developed with the characters of Star Wars Rebels was in an upcoming episode (that you’ll see soon) which included a character named Klick Klack. There was something about this character that really stole my heart (and apparently the heart of every blogger in the room). I won’t spoil anything for you, but just keep an eye out for this character. One of the burning questions I had for Dave Filoni was whether or not Klick Klack would be returning in future episodes.
Unfortunately, Dave said that it’s “highly unlikely”. But I’m confident that after talking to us he might try to bring Klick Klack back. He told us that this was the most educational things about his entire day – learning how much everyone loved Klick Klack. To him, it was just another addition to the story, but to us, Klick Klack was a big deal.
After our incredible interview with Dave Filoni, we took a group photo! In case you’re wondering – he was a very kind, gentle, and gracious man. He was very much a pleasure to chat with.
Catch Episodes Saturdays Nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD
A brave and clever ragtag starship crew stands up against the evil Empire as it tightens its grip on the galaxy and hunts down the last of the Jedi Knights.