Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Celebration Europe II: Secrets of The Clone Wars

Despite problems with a delayed flight, Dave Filoni – Supervising Director of The Clone Wars and now Executive Producer on Rebels - made it to the Behind the Stages on Friday for the 3pm panel, Secrets of The Clone Wars. This marked the first appearance of Dave Filoni at a non-US Star Wars Celebration, and secrets were shared indeed!


A lot can happen in six years, and indeed it has for The Clone Wars. At Celebration Europe in 2007, Steve Sansweet previewed the unreleased The Clone Wars movie each day for excited fans. By July 2013, time for the long-awaited second Celebration Europe event, The Clone Wars movie has long been released and five seasons have aired – along with an announcement that the series has been cancelled. Since that announcement, it has been said that there will be additional bonus content released including episodes completed for what would have been Season 6 – but not details. So Dave Filoni’s first appearance afterwards had fans hoping for more detail.

The panel took place on the Behind the Stage, and whilst fans sat and waited music from the saga played with behind-the-scenes images showing on the screen. When it was time for things to get started, a montage from The Clone Wars played with footage from all five seasons – and it was an absolute treat. As the action packed montage set everyone’s pulses racing, Pablo Hidalgo (host of the Behind the Scenes stage) appeared on stage as it closed. He introduced the man of the hour and Dave Filoni joined him on stage. 

The involvement of George Lucas was discussed. Filoni talked about how the “Landing on Point Rain” battle wasn’t working, and he and Lucas threw most of the script out. George Lucas brought along his old World War II and other movie footage and they edited together the battle in the same way that Lucas had done for the dog fights in A New Hope. This was explained in the context of how hands-on George Lucas ended up being with The Clone Wars.

Filoni also mentioned that although Lucas had retired, he is still around, and that he would call to tell him if he saw something he didn’t like, “which is troubling because he has a cell phone now – and that’s something new!”


Hidalgo and Filoni announced that they were going to be looking at abandoned concepts for The Clone Wars, artwork that was designed and then not used for the series. This led to some interesting stories about ideas, characters and episodes that might have been. Hidalgo made it clear that although these concepts were unused, that didn’t mean that they would never be used – many old Star Wars existed for a long time before being used in the prequels or The Clone Wars

In one story arc Duchess Satine was to have been forced to wear Mandalorian Battle Armour, as part of a traditional parade, despite her pacifism. She was to have gone along with it (presumably for the sake of peace), and Pre Visla was to attack. Filoni said that the story would have challenged her character again, but ultimately it was changed with the return of Darth Maul.


Filoni talked about one particularly fascinating story arc that was discussed for the series but never came to be. Dave Filoni was throwing around a story idea for an arc of episodes that would see Padme get in on the action, as he felt she had done a lot of diplomatic episodes for a while. The idea was that Padme was negotiating with the Separatists, and in order to prove herself she had to complete a series of physical challenges. She would take Ahsoka with her to compete in these games, but those she was negotiating with would insist she compete personally. The idea was that she would win the competition, prove herself, and sign a treaty to end the war – but just as she is signing, General Grievous is invading Coruscant to kidnap Palpatine and the events of Revenge of the Sith commence. Later on Filoni briefly mentioned that he had hoped the final episodes of the series could have actually overlapped with the events of Revenge of the Sith

This would have been an incredible idea, as it would have added so much to Padme’s character who didn’t get a great deal to do in Revenge of the Sith unfortunately. The episodes didn’t come to pass unfortunately, there were concerns that there is a limit to how much physical activity Padme could do whilst pregnant. Ultimately George Lucas was involved in the final decision that this story arc wouldn’t come to pass.


In Season 6 The Clone Wars planned to return to Kashyyk, and show more of the planet. George Lucas had worked with Dave Filoni on the concept of giant lizard monkeys that the Wookiees ride around on the giant trees of Kashyyk. Filoni treated the audience to a brief clip seeing these creatures in action (strictly no recording was allowed!). It was a rough animatic with temporary sound, no animation of the scene was actually completed. It showed the Wookiees and Clones riding these giant lizard monkeys, who are then attacked by other freaky creatures. The lizard monkeys hide while the Clones and Wookiees fend them off. 

Dave Filoni also revealed that the plan was to show Yoda on Kashyyk, establishing a bit of background to the line, “Good relations with the Wookiees I have”. By this point in the war Yoda’s troops were to have painted a silhouette of his head onto their helmets. 
What was cool to hear was that the abandoned live-action TV series Underworld was to have links with The Clone Wars, and early on little things were being added to the animated series that would have connected the two. Dave Filoni was amazed that this was cleared to talk about, and joked “this is the new Lucasfilm where we talk about everything”. Pablo Hidalgo mentioned that this was likely to be more common with the ‘new’ Lucasfilm.

The final selection of concepts to be shown were from finished episodes that would have been part of Season 6, but will now be part of the ‘bonus content’. Pablo Hidalgo assured fans that nothing is being held back, Lucasfilm are currently figuring out the best way to release the content – some of which is not completed episodes. Hidalgo assured the audience that as soon as the method of release is known it will be shared with fans.


The clip of Anakin helping a mischievous Yoda escape in his mini Jedi Starfighter was shown from an upcoming episode, which looked great on a larger screen. Filoni mentioned that he liked to show Yoda in this light where possible, and it seemed appropriate. He has an idea that maybe when Yoda was much younger he was more like Anakin, and that maybe Yoda sees a little of himself in Skywalker, knowing that one day he can grow to be wiser and calmer. 

Another particularly cool piece shown was artwork of a Sith Temple, with a silhouette of someone small stood in the entrance. This is concept art from a completed episode, so it seems somehow our little green friend will end up at a very ominous location. 

The Clone Wars Season 5 Blu-ray and DVD release on October 15th was officially announced, with Obi-Wan Kenobi finally getting his turn on the box art. The regular collection of every season is also to be released on the same day, of course this time with the knowledge that it is a complete set.


The floor was opened up to questions from fans, and after some trouble at previous Behind the Scenes stage panels more effort was made to ensure the questions were repeated to the stage correctly. Dave Filoni agreed with a fan that it would be great to have the soundtrack to the series released, and fans should keep asking for that if they want it. He said it was great when people ask these questions, because back at Lucasfilm he can mention that fans were asking for it. 

When asked about characters from the Expanded Universe Dave Filoni said that he tried to avoid using them if it means they will have to be altered for the series (which often they do), because fans “like them the way they are”. This is a reassuring comment for Expanded Universe fans with Filoni working on Rebels. He cited Quinlan Vos as an example of  character appearing a bit different in the series to how he appeared in the comics, perhaps implying that he hadn’t felt that was a successful experiment (especially since Vos didn’t turn up in the series again).


Dave Filoni wrapped up by paying tribute to the fans. He truly lived up to all of the hype he gets for being extremely generous to Star Wars fans, it seems like after all of this time working in the Star Wars universe his passion and generosity hasn’t wavered. It is a fortuitous coincidence that the two Celebration Europe events have marked the beginning and end of The Clone Wars, but fitting that Dave Filoni was able to attend Celebration Europe II and speak to fans after news that many found disappointing. The panel itself was informative and entertaining, and surprising that despite the series being over, it was as much about looking forward to what is coming next from The Clone Wars as reflecting on what has gone before. 


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