On Monday, the first episode of Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian premiered!
This show gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the first season of The Mandalorian, which is the very first live-action Star Wars TV show! I’ll be reviewing these episodes, and that begins with this premiere: which was all about the directors.
The episode features plenty of shots from the set, but it is built around a roundtable discussion that showrunner Jon Favreau has with the directors: Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Taika Waititi. The episode devotes time to all five of them, with the directors explaining some of their prior work, their relationship with Star Wars, and other anecdotes. Additionally, others from the cast and crew share thoughts on those directors. It made for a very cool and informative episode, and it was fascinating to hear about each of these directors, how they approached episodes differently, and hearing them all interact with each other.
But my biggest takeaway from the episode was simply this: Dave Filoni is a star. It seemed like he got more focal time than the others, and that’s understandable. Filoni told the story of how he got the job working with George Lucas on The Clone Wars (and how he at first thought the guys from Spongebob were pranking him), talked about working on The Mandalorian, etc. But it was the comments from the others that really reinforced Filoni’s influence on the show.
“Dave Filoni [is a] great collaborater, great animator, great director/storyteller/writer,” showrunner Jon Favreau said. “But also he has a strong intuition about what George would say.”
“He’s an encyclopedia of all of the Star Wars lore,” Taika Waititi said.
“You can ask him anything,” Gina Carano (who plays Cara Dune) added. “You can be like, ‘hey, what about this shoulder pad?’ And Dave Filoni will be like, ‘well, that’s not actually, you know, what it looks like, and let me tell you why. And tell you the history of why.'”
Bryce Dallas Howard said, “There’s a purity to his relationship with Star Wars in general that is just like, it’s really obvious. There’s no Dave Filoni ego, it’s just like always all about Star Wars, and George, and the stuff that’s important.”
“We wouldn’t be able to do this show without Dave Filoni,” Pedro Pascal, who plays the Mandalorian, explained. “He is the truest lover of the material, he’s so well-informed and he knows exactly what would fit, what would make sense.”
Deborah Chow said, “I think it’s like he, more than anyone, just innately knows what’s right and what’s wrong for Star Wars.”
That’s all pretty high praise, but it doesn’t really come as a surprise to Star Wars fans. Filoni was the apprentice to George Lucas who, in the years since, has attained master status himself. Filoni served as the supervising director and executive producer on The Clone Wars, while also writing some episodes (including the four-part Siege of Mandalore arc that just released, and as a writer on nine of the twelve episodes in the final season). He also directed the original The Clone Wars film. In this role, Filoni helped George Lucas develop the show and helped bring Lucas’s vision to life, all the while learning about Star Wars, the Jedi, the Force, and so much more from the creator himself. There’s a reason why so many, including myself, say that Filoni just ‘gets’ Star Wars as well as anybody – he learned it directly from George Lucas!
After Lucas’s retirement, Filoni continued to produce great content. He served as supervising director, executive producer, and a writer on Star Wars Rebels, served as the executive producer of other Star Wars animated projects like Forces of Destiny and Resistance, and heads all Lucasfilm animation (there have been rumors swirling that he’s working on a new show, but nothing confirmed yet).
And then, of course, Filoni serves as executive producer, director, and writer on The Mandalorian. While Jon Favreau is the showrunner, it has largely been portrayed as Favreau and Filoni working together to helm the show. And that makes a lot of sense, because Favreau brings experience working on live-action, while Filoni brings experience with Star Wars storytelling.
In fact, last year, Lucasfilm President Kathy Kennedy said she consults with Dave Filoni on all they do from a storytelling perspective. “There isn’t a thing that we do in the storytelling space that I don’t check with Dave” she told Vanity Fair. “What I find about Dave is you don’t just sit down and have a discussion about plot or review characters inside the Star Wars world. You end up having meaningful, thoughtful discussions about what it is we’re trying to say inside the storytelling. He has a lot of empathy.”
So if you want to get a better feel for who Dave Filoni is and why he’s held in such high regard at Lucasfilm, check out the first episode of this documentary! It’s fantastic.
But don’t just skip over the other parts, either, because it’s really cool and interesting to get a look at all of the directors from season one and how they brought different things to the table, all giving their own feel and taste for the show. In the end, I think it turned out tremendously well. And in the time since, two of the directors have received other Star Wars projects: Deborah Chow is the showrunner of the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series, while Taika Waititi is writing and directing a Star Wars theatrical film!
And so in that regard, between The Mandalorian and the other projects Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, and Taika Waititi are working on, this episode also probably offers a glimpse at some of the people behind the future of Star Wars.