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July 14, 2012

Comic-Con: ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars’ panel converts a fan on site

Posted in: Comic-Con,TV

darth maul Comic Con: Star Wars: Clone Wars panel converts a fan on site

Darth Maul in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (Lucasfilm)

Flashy footage from the upcoming fifth season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on Cartoon Network made a convert out of one fan during the show’s Saturday afternoon panel.

During the question-and-answer session a guy in a baseball cap got up to inform supervising director Dave Filoni and writer Matt Michnovetz that he’d never seen the show and was just hanging out in the ballroom for the “Halo 4” presentation that was to follow, but after seeing the footage, he’d become a fan. He planned to go out and watch every episode right away.

The jovial Filoni and Michnovetz fielded all kinds of questions from audience members more familiar with the show during the hour-long panel, which featured the two men and the panel moderator flanked by four clone soldiers in full armor.

While Filoni could only tease certain developments in the new season (including the fallout from the return of Darth Maul in the fourth season finale), he did provide a peek into the unique process that goes into making the most prominent continuation of the “Star Wars” saga.

For one thing, George Lucas is more heavily involved than you might expect. He even pitches the writers on potential story lines (though his ideas probably aren’t up for much debate). He asked them to bring back Darth Maul (even though the Sith Lord got cut in two in “The Phantom Menace.” And he also came up with the idea for a controversial story arc in the show’s fourth season involving a heroic Jedi Master who had secretly turned to the dark side of the Force.

“George came into the writer’s room and pitched us the story,” Michnovetz remembered. “Everyone got giddy. It was a great moment. We were telling him, ‘You’re nerding out, George!’”

Unlike most animated shows, which are created with storyboards, “Clone Wars” is made in virtual sets, with the character blocking done in a 3D environment before virtual cameras are placed to capture the action.

filoni Comic Con: Star Wars: Clone Wars panel converts a fan on site

“Clone Wars” supervising director Dave Filoni (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

As Filoni said, “It’s something George has been working on to shoot visual effects more economically.”

That’s not the only thing that makes “Clone Wars” stand out from the typical animated TV fare. The series also makes use of writers with a TV drama background, and not just any TV dramas. Writers for the show’s fifth season include Chris Collins (“The Wire” and “Sons of Anarchy”) and Christian Taylor (“Lost” and “Six Feet Under”), among others.

George “wanted to bring in drama writers to craft these characters,” Michnovetz said. “It makes you step up your game when you’re in a room with these guys.”

But not everyone appreciates the show’s impressive pedigree. One overzealous teen fan got to the microphone and demanded to see “More dead Jedi! Heaps of dead Jedi everywhere.”

Filoni handled the situation well: “A friend of mine is a counselor. She can help you with these anger issues. I sense the dark side in you.”

Another young fan was disappointed to learn that the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett would not be appearing in the upcoming season. He wanted to know whether Boba Fett would return. Yes, Filoni conceded, but not for a while. However, he did promise that what they had in mind would be worth the wait.

“When you’re a little bit older, if you’re still into us…it’ll be awesome,” he told the young boy. “But I don’t know. You may be into girls.”

– Patrick Kevin Day

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