Long before The Mandalorian was in development, there were already plans for Dave Filoni to lead live-action Star Wars storytelling. The Hollywood Reporter details how Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy had Filoni prepare for live-action Star Wars by having him shadow J.J. Abrams directing The Force Awakens, Gareth Edwards directing Rogue One, and Rian Johnson directing The Last Jedi.
Shadowing all of these directors was a valuable experience for Filoni as he took his immense experience in animation storytelling and learned to apply it to live-action storytelling. He shared that his experience shadowing Johnson during the filming of The Last Jedi was particularly rewarding:
"“Rian was the one who shoved me up front, sticking lenses in my hand and really getting me immersed in it. And so I still talk with him to this day. He’s obviously a very talented filmmaker, and I was just very fortunate to be in such an environment where I could sit and listen and learn.”"
It is wonderful to hear how Johnson mentored and supported Filoni in his journey toward becoming a live-action filmmaker. Audiences often think of Johnson and The Last Jedi as entirely separate from Filoni and his various animated and live-action Star Wars television series. This is one of many examples that demonstrate the unity and support between Star Wars creators.
Filoni’s work in live-action Star Wars
What Filoni learned from Johnson is clearly paying off given given his success in live-action Star Wars television. As an executive producer on The Mandalorian, he has worked closely with showrunner Jon Favreau to bring the hit series to life.
Filoni directed the series premiere that culminated in the shocking introduction of Grogu. He also directed “The Gunslinger” episode that introduced Fennec Shand into Star Wars TV and the season 2 episode “The Jedi” that featured Ahsoka Tano’s live-action debut. He has also written or co-written numerous episodes in the series as well.
In addition to being an executive producer for The Book of Boba Fett, he brought another iconic Clone Wars character into live-action when he directed and co-wrote “From the Desert Comes a Stranger,” which brings Cad Bane face-to-face with Cobb Vanth, and shows the first-ever scene between Ahsoka and Luke Skywalker.
The crowning jewel of Filoni’s live-action resume will be the upcoming Ahsoka series. He is Ahsoka‘s showrunner, wrote the series, and directed multiple episodes. It is only fitting considering how he introduced Ahsoka and told a great deal of her story in The Clone Wars and continued her story in other animated series including Star Wars Rebels and Tales of the Jedi.
Filoni has also appeared in The Mandalorian as a New Republic named Trapper Wolf, a clever name considering his well-known love for wolves.
As more Star Wars projects and more Filoni projects are released, remember that Star Wars creators are generally more supportive and connected than opposed to each other.