In honor of May the Fourth aka Star Wars Day, Disney+ is releasing a range of new Star Wars content for fans including The Rise of Skywalker on streaming, the final episode of The Clone Wars and a new documentary series about the making of the hit live-action Star Wars show The Mandalorian.
The episodes are part of a new brand known as "Disney Gallery", which takes a behind the scenes look at the making of The Mandalorian, and presumably other Disney+ shows in the future. Episodes will now release each Friday on Disney+ and focus on a different aspect of the show such as casting and the VFX technology.
The first episode of Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian focused on the five directors of the series with a roundtable hosted by executive producer Jon Favreau. The episode is short at just 32 minutes but full of great behind the scenes content, and The Direct has broken down all the aspects that were revealed...
Jon Favreau started the roundtable by saying that our “one unifying thing is we all love Star Wars. That was the prerequisite”. Nothing truer can be said about Dave Filoni, who directed episodes 1 and 5 of The Mandalorian, but is more well known for his work on The Clone Wars animated series as supervising director.
Filoni detailed a behind-the-scenes story about how he landed his role on The Clone Wars, explaining he thought it was a practical joke at first.
“I was working at Nickelodeon and someone called from Lucasfilm Animation and I’m like ‘there is no Lucasfilm animation’. I thought that the guys from Spongebob were just busting my chops over Star Wars. I thought it was a prank call.”
Filoni also recounted his first meeting with George Lucas.
“I had to go through two rounds of meeting people and then meet George. And I’m sitting there like, ‘Yeah, I’m not getting this, because he sees the best in the business, right?... And I left and I was like ‘This was a great experience. Because he was cool, he was super knowledgeable. He was everything that you thought the guy who created Star Wars was. And then the producer opens the door and says ‘he likes you, you got the job.’ “
Having worked closely with George Lucas on The Clone Wars and also being a huge Star Wars fan, a lot of the other directors discussed how they could turn to Filoni if they needed advice.
Jon Favreau: “[Dave Filoni] has a strong intuition about what George would say”
Taika Waititi: “He’s an encyclopaedia of all Star Wars lore”
Bryce Dallas Howard: “There’s a purity to his relationship to Star Wars in general. It’s just always all about Star Wars and George and the stuff that’s important.”
Pedro Pascal: “We wouldn’t be able to do this without Dave Filoni. He is the truest lover of the material. He’s so well informed and would know exactly what would fit and what would make sense.”
Deborah Chow: “I think he, more than anyone, innately knows what’s right and what’s wrong for Star Wars.”
Deborah Chow directed episodes 3 and 7 of The Mandalorian and is now also helming the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+. Favreau commented on how Chow loves action and came in with a solid game plan. Chow added that she really loved killing Stormtroopers and kept asking for more in the scene.
Chow described her story of coming to The Mandalorian stemming from her love of genre:
“I’d mostly been doing television. As soon as I was able to I started choosing shows that I actually wanted to see. The first big one I got was "Mr. Robot", at the time it wasn’t a big show. So I ended up going by taste and 'Would I actually want to watch this or what am I into?’ Which turned out to be sort of zombies and robots and aliens. That ended up leading to bigger and bigger shows just because of the nature of the genre”
A lot of the big takeaways in Chow’s segment were that she was efficient and tried to “find the life” in every scene. She said “The difference with television is you’re coming in to try to do something really ambitious, really quickly. The only way to do that is to prep it as much as you can and come in planned.”
Rick Famuyiwa directed episodes 3 and 6 of the series, notably helming the highly praised heist sequence in ‘The Prisoner’. Famuyiwa’s take was that he enjoyed telling stories about “misfits and those who don’t ever get cameras pointed on them”. His personal favorites of the season were the Jawas and working on the Sandcrawler set because it was “the most crazy and rewarding experience for someone who just loves Star Wars. This is the scale.”
On episode six, which Famuyiwa also wrote the script for. Favreau commented that ‘'each one’s like a little mini-movie and that was the heist movie. We really stuck to those rules and we talked about it a lot.”
Famuyiwa said that despite having concerns over coming to television, he was put at ease by Favreau’s approach to the series. “We’re making a series that’s connected but we’ve all been given the freedom and creativity to tell a story as we would in a feature film.”
Finally, Famuyiwa recalled how Star Wars was the first film he saw in the theatres with his father and that he was blown away: “For me it’s been one of those things where the way I see film and the way I see storytelling has been shaped by that first experience of seeing that film.”
BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD
Known more widely for her acting work in franchises such as Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard made her major directing debut with Episode 4 of The Mandalorian.
Dallas Howard recounted her first interaction with Star Wars when her father, award-winning director Ron Howard, took her on a business meeting when she was young. “We had a dinner with George Lucas and Kurosawa, and I was there. I fell asleep during it. But I have those memories of hearing his voice and it really staying.”
She also commented on how seeing Jurassic Park for the first time impacted her perception of what could be done in movies, fitting as she would join the franchise years later.
“We threw you in the deep end of the pool. That was such a difficult episode to do and we were like, ‘We gotta pick the new person who’s never done this before. She won’t know how hard what we’re asking her to do is.”
As an actor in special effects-heavy films, Bryce thought maybe her role as a director was to be there to support the actors through their experience: “[I just wanted] to bring it back to the characters and the dialogue and the scene work. And to just make every single scene like a play.
Taiki Waititi was already well-versed in special effects-heavy productions having directed Marvel’s Thor Ragnarok. He came on to direct the finale of season one of The Mandalorian.
Waititi revealed that he began doing stand up theatre and plays but no one would hire him, so he made his own productions instead. When making What We Do In The Shadows, Waititi and his crew would ask WETA if they could have any rejected props or outfits from The Lord of the Rings for their show.
On The Mandalorian set, Waititi brought “palpable enthusiasm” to every scene. Favreau noted that
“[Taika] knows how to find the humor in the action. That’s different than making fun of action, we don’t make fun of it”. Waititi added “[the show] doesn’t take itself 100% seriously but it does believe in itself”.
There’ are also quite a few scenes of dancing on set during Taika’s section.
STAR WARS SCHOOL
Another big takeaway from this episode is how all the directors were on set helping each other with each of their shooting blocks. This is uncommon for a TV show as directors are usually brought in for their episodes and then leave, having little interaction or say on other parts of the series.
Chow: It was a really different experience to work with other directors in creating a show. We can bounce ideas off each other.
Filoni: The key is to hire good people. Because this is really new to so many of us. We all get together on it and it becomes a real team thing. Everybody’s bringing their unique perspective. And I think that ultimately makes this stronger and a better story. It almost is like a Star Wars school.
In each of their segments, all of the directors commented on how they felt a huge responsibility to the show and the world of Star Wars.
Bryce Dallas Howard: “This isn’t about my relationship to Star War. It's about all of our relationships to Star Wars. Hopefully when people watch "The Mandalorian" they feel our commitment to Star Wars and to the incredible story that this is.
Based on this first episode, The Mandalorian docuseries is going to be full of more behind the scenes secrets and footage that will hopefully tide everyone over until Season 2 releases in October.