Speaking from Big Rock Ranch in Northern California, Star Wars: The Clone Wars producer Cary Silver takes us behind the scenes of the hit animated saga. An animation veteran who has produced everything from Bratz to GI Joe, Silver reveals all about working on George Lucas's award-winning series.
Could you take us through how each episode of the Clone Wars is made?
All stories emanate from George Lucas. So we begin with creative meetings with George where he'll bring in concepts for episodes or we'll discuss ideas that we have kicking around. We then assemble a team of really great writers and work through all the stories in what we call a writer's conference. We'll hole up at Skywalker Ranch with George for two weeks and we beat out out every single story for the season.
When we get that right, and George is happy with it, we then go on to design and asset creation. We have a 3D story propriety software platform that we have created here at Lucasfilm that allows us to shoot animation in a digital environment. When we're done with the story reel and Dave Filoni [supervising director] is happy with it, we then show it to George. We incorporate his changes and then that goes overseas and our partners in Singapore and Tai Pei animate it and really bring it to life. Then all that footage comes back here to assemble and George comes back in and approves it and we deliver it around the world.
So George Lucas oversees all aspects of each episode?
He is actively involved in the show, far more than people realise and so he sees it at every stage. As you can well imagine, it's one thing showing an episode to your boss, and another showing it to George Lucas. He has incredibly high standards and I think he can't distance himself between making a feature and making The Clone Wars. He's the one who pushes us to the next level in every episode. We're only limited by George's imagination and the stories he wants to tell.
What can fans expect to see in Season Three?
First off, I think what you're going to see is a show where the visuals, the animation, the lighting and the acting has just got better from season to season. I think you'll see a lot of visuals that look like they could fit in with any of the features. And then beyond that we've got some amazing stories, with some really cool characters who we're adding to the saga established in the movies. We are revealing things about the universe that people don't necessarily know.
Season Three has the tagline "Secrets Revealed". Is there a sense that George Lucas is giving the Clone Wars team more leeway to tell stories Star Wars stories that deal with important aspects of the saga?
He's very happy with the show, so in some ways he keeps saying that he's kicking us out of the nest a little. He is letting us find our wings and fly a bit more. Of course, everything goes through him because we want him to be happy with it, but I sense him starting to be more confident in the team and in the show as we stretch our wings more.
Do you consciously attempt to make sure that The Clone Wars appeals to new fans as well as long-standing Star Wars fans?
Star Wars is a project that' s been going on for 35 years, so we want to make sure that we're appealing to the core fans, as well as kids, and it's not necessarily an easy trick. We want to make sure that we're reaching all of our fans and giving them something new.
I feel that Clone Wars is the torch bearer that's taking the franchise into the future. What George always says is that there's a group of fans who grew up with the originals, and that's their Star Wars, and then there's kids who grew up with the prequels, and that's their Star Wars. Now we've got a whole new generation for who the Clone Wars is their entry point.
As the conflict intensifies, will we be seeing darker storylines in Season Three?
We're only limited by George's imagination and the stories he wants to tell. He doesn't see us being an animation series as something he should cater to. So we've gone into more complex arenas. Also, the content lends itself to that. At the beginning of the Clone Wars things are very black and white, it's a simpler time. As the war has progressed into the years we're at, it's getting into more grey areas. So I think it's lending itself in that direction.
What's it like having George Lucas's daughter Katie on the writing team?
There's a great story arc in Season Three that she wrote and she's doing a great job. She's not there just because of her name. She's a talented writer who has grown with the show, dating back to Season One. She had episodes in Seasons One, Two and now Three, so she's a really great contributing member to the team.
Do you ever have to rein George Lucas in when his ideas get too ambitious for the series?
It happens a great deal and that's part of the job I have. George will say, “Well I want to get to the moon." I have to figure out how to get there or say, "Well, I can't quite get you there, but I can get you here. How's that?" It's a natural, creative, film-making process. There is a time frame and it's something we have to do in order to make air dates. But when George says start jumping, I start jumping and I figure out how high later!