Pablo Hidalgo and Dave Filoni are two very authoritative sources when it comes to Star Wars continuity, specifically that of The Clone Wars. With that in mind, their Friday panel, "The Dark Side Clouds Everything," drew major crowds. Here's what went down on the Behind-the-Scenes Stage.
Pablo began the panel by discussing its premise: the evolution of TCW as a series meant that discussions about canon -- including how Filoni and his team interpreted and presented George Lucas's message -- were widespread. It was an important subject, and one that Dave and Pablo would explore for the next hour. Pablo brought Dave onto the stage and began explaining that, among the creative types in production meetings at Lucasfilm, the two of them had some of the longest conversations about all corners of the Star Wars universe. The name for this panel, Pablo said, came from the notion of Lucasfilm struggling to stay true to Star Wars when presenting new content (and resisting the lure of the Dark Side in all its forms). Dave said that the "dark side" was a collection of roadblocks that was making it difficult for Lucasfilm to keep everything neatly tied up with TCW. "Nothing happens," Dave said, "Without a tremendous amount of thought going into it."
As Dave explained, he and TCW Season One head writer Henry Gilroy had assumed early on that Obi-Wan and Anakin wouldn't play a big role in TCW. Their original idea for the main characters was to have a Twi'lek Jedi and an apprentice fighting piracy and mercenaries around the galaxy. Because cost was important, they would only trot out Anakin and Obi-Wan for high-profile battle scenes every so often. Dave mentioned that the creators of the TV show Firefly made "smart filmmaking" decisions by sticking to only one or two shooting locations, and that he wanted to keep The Clone Wars landscapes to a minimum for rendering and conceptualization reasons. George Lucas, however, had other plans. He didn't want to keep TCW small. As Dave says, "Asteroids do not concern George Lucas." With The Maker's blessing for a new animated series on a grand scale, TCW became what we've seen for the past two seasons.
Pablo Hidalgo talked about the discrepancies that can arise when George Lucas takes something from the EU and modifies it to fully match his vision. He said that George may borrow concepts from the EU if it suits his creative direction, but that he will often change it around. Dave discussed the fact that a lot of concepts known for their appearances in TCW actually had their roots in older materials and circumstances. Jedi Master Terra Sinube of Lightsaber Lost fame was based on concept work for a Senator. Dave stressed the fact that George keeps all manner of concept ideas around for later use. Mace Windu was originally a droid trader named Mace Windi, as many Star Wars fans know. But Pablo pointed out that you can't tell Sam Jackson that he isn't playing Mace Windu simply the character was actually a droid trader. Lucasfilm is trying to adapt and make old concepts modern and use groundwork laid years before in a fresh new way. And as Dave pointed out, everyone has his or her own visions of the EU because they take in this material through the printed word, without full visualizations to solidify the look of a ship, character, or planet. The hardest part of being the director of TCW, Dave said, is taking subjective content from print materials and putting it into a visual form that everyone sees in the same way.
Dave also touched on George's vision and how that affected The Clone Wars, particularly for Season Two. He said that George described concepts for Mandalorian episodes (Duchess Satine, the planet Mandalore, and the Death Watch) very specifically. Dave joked that he would call Pablo and continuity guru Leland Chee to warn them of George's intentions. He'd tell them that George was working on Mandalorians in a new way and that "there's a couple of differences" from the EU in Pablo's guides. Ultimately, Dave said, his job is to bring George's vision to the show.
But that doesn't mean he can't have some fun with TCW. Dave said that his personal inclusions, while few, are very satisfying to drop in. He has been known to sprinkle wolf motifs among the clones, as he is a big fan of wolves. And who can forget Plo Koon and his heroic adventures in the first two seasons. Dave says he might have given the Kel Dor Jedi way more screen time than he might deserve, but "I got the job so I did it."
Pablo also addressed several small points related to the issue of continuity. He pointed out that TCW itself is so complicated that crystallizing it in a guide is difficult. After all, the Separatists ARE in fact leaving the Republic for the right reasons -- the war isn't black and white. Pablo also said that you can't out-Vader Vader in TCW in terms of the powers and abilities that the show's villains possess. Dave added, "Hollywood's been trying to out-Vader Vader for 30 years" but the Dark Lord of the Sith is still the best. This earned massive applause.
Dave took up the issue of spoilers briefly. He warned that spoilers are very damaging, and said he would love to tell the fans everything, but he wants viewers to experience the secrets of the series on screen first.
After Dave and Pablo finished speaking, there were several questions from the audience.
Q: Will there be a Mandalorian-type continuity controversy with the Republic Commandos (who were revealed here at Celebration V in a sneak peek video)? A: Dave doesn't think it will happen - he says "I wouldn't worry about that."
Q: Will we see Ben Quadinaros in TCW? A: Dave asks if Fanboys director Kyle Newman is in the room. He jokes that Lucasfilm could hear about the question and actually think the podracing wannabe was a hit with fans.
Q: Were the flamethrower troopers' shoulder logos in Landing at Point Rain from the Genndy Clone Wars series? A: Dave says he and George used World War II footage to plan the Point Rain battles. George suggested that some clones use flamethrowers to burn up bugs. They used the snowtrooper model for the armor, and an animal glyph from Dave's sketches was the logo on shoulder.
Q: Does Dave use the Essential Guides and/or Visual Dictionaries for reference? A: Dave says they're "very aware" of the reference material and Pablo says he gets calls from creative types at Lucasfilm all the time checking continuity for various projects.
Q: How many seasons of TCW will there be? Would Dave do another animated series? A: Dave says that he'll leave the other animated series to Seth Green. He also says that they will keep making TCW for as long as fans want to watch it. (Loud applause at that.)
Here Pablo mentioned that there is a timeline for TCW, but it's not ready to be revealed yet. Dave said he has joked with George about TCW being wildly out of order because the films were. (His comment was that, because the films were 4-6, 1-3, TCW should be something like 7, 1, 18, 4, 5, and 42 timeline-wise.)
Q: Is Dave thinking about the endgame for TCW? A: "In massive detail," Dave says. He could tell an hour-long story of how he sees it ending right now but he won't. Also, his view from five years ago of how it should end has changed. He is sure that one thing will happen but not how. As he looked to the future, Dave made sure to mention the reason he had reached this point already. "This is George's thing ... if I'm successful it's because I've been such a good student to him." And, he said, it's important to always have George involved in Star Wars.
Q: Will we learn more details about the Death Star in TCW? A: Simple answer: Dave says no.
Q: Does Dave want Plo Koon to use his electric green judgment (as seen in a video game)? A: Dave says that he wants the Jedi to stay away from becoming superheroes, so no. He says he never saw Obi-Wan using the Force like that. Pablo says that Barriss Offee had healing powers in certain novels, but the TCW episodes featuring her didn't merit that plot point.
Q: Will there be guest writers from the EU on TCW? A: Dave says that he has no plans right now, because he loves the group of writers they have.
Q: Will there be another TCW movie? A: Dave says they don't have time right now, but personally he would love another shot at it.
Q: Any break from the constant Separatist losses? A: Dave says that they needed to keep Dooku and Grievous off to the side, because the Republic would want to run from those two, and the Grand Army needed some victories for now.
Q: Will we see Bothans in TCW? A: Not in Season 3, because there is no character model. But Dave says he's always looking for new background aliens in the future. He added, "I have to barter with my production team" for the funds for certain processing/rendering tasks (which relates to what elements include).
Q: Will there be more TCW prequel episodes? A: Another simple one: No. Pablo says that Cat and Mouse is currently the earliest in TCW's continuity and it will most likely stay that way for a while.
Q: Based on how others address him in TCW, is Anakin a Jedi Master? A: Ahsoka calls Anakin "Master" because she's apprenticed to him, not because he holds the rank of the same name.
Q: Is it hard to restrict yourself to 22 minutes based on how much you've thought about each story? A: Dave says that episodes are always better in the end when they've been heavily trimmed, but it's very hard to do. He says he was going to have Plo Koon fight Bossk in Lethal Trackdown and defeat him. He then looked towards Lucasfilm's Mary Franklin (an extreme Bossk fan) and declared, "I could do that, and then that would be how it happened!"