Thanks to his contributions to Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, many fans of the franchise consider Dave Filoni to be one of the most compelling storytellers in the galaxy far, far away, despite not venturing into the world of live-action until the debut season of The Mandalorian. Following Kathleen Kennedy becoming the president of Lucasfilm, he had a number of opportunities to shadow filmmakers to gain insight into the world of directing live-action, with Filoni pointing out that it was his experiences working with writer/director Rian Johnson on Star Wars: The Last Jedi that gave him invaluable insight into working in a different medium.
"[George Lucas] really piqued my interest and then when Kathleen Kennedy came on board and started running Lucasfilm, I expressed to her an interest in it and so that started a long education and observation where she made it possible for me to visit the film sets, [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] and [The Last Jedi] and Rogue One[:A Star Wars Story], talk to Gareth [Edwards] and J.J. [Abrams] about what they were doing," Filoni shared with Deadline. "Rian Johnson, I gotta say, was really instrumental for me as far as just grabbing me, getting me right up next to the camera, with him and the DP, blocking a scene. He was very supportive of my early efforts, because I'm the kind of person that if I show up on a big movie set, I just want to be invisible, I don't want to bother anybody, they have a lot to do."
Over the course of more than a decade, some fans have even considered Filoni's strengths to rival, if not exceed, the artistic ambition of Lucas himself. It would make sense then that a majority of Filoni's storytelling sensibilities are a reflection of the time he spend with the Star Wars creator.
"Doing live-action is something that hadn't really occurred to me until I started working with George Lucas on The Clone Wars," the filmmaker pointed out. "And because of the way he taught me to look at movies and film and shooting and editing, it became something I was more and more interested in over the years, working with him. He had us working on Clone Wars using a virtual production method where he had devised his own systems to, instead of doing storyboard drawings, we were shooting on virtual sets and staging characters. That was all a way that we could then edit animation with coverage and actual full length of shots. So the language of it was very familiar to him and then he was teaching me what he was looking for and why he would cut something."
He added, "He's a brilliant editor and he would move things around where you'd never thought they would fit, but he would just try it. He'd tell me we could always put it back once we'd move something, but we never would because he's usually right."
Filoni recently worked on Season Two of The Mandalorian, which is expected to land on Disney+ in October. Johnson was announced to be developing his own trilogy of Star Wars films back in 2017, though no updates on those projects have been revealed in subsequent years.