We’ve already been hearing from the filmmakers behind the live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian thanks to the eight-episode behind-the-scenes docuseries Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian currently being released on Disney+, but it’s always nice to hear more from these talented individuals who have made an indelible mark on the future of Star Wars and the movie industry in general.
With that in mind, it was terrific to see creator/showrunner Jon Favreau, executive producer/director Dave Filoni, and directors Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Taika Waititi reunited for “The Mandalorian: Behind the Camera” panel presentation moderated by journalist Anthony Breznican as part of the virtual ATX Television Festival this weekend.
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In the bullet-point list below, I’ve chosen some of the more notable tidbits and factoids to come out of this 45-minute discussion of The Mandalorian and the filmmakers who brought it to life on the small screen:
- The last time all of these filmmakers were together was during the fall as the first season of The Mandalorian was being released and the second season was in production.
- Filoni, Famuyiwa, and Chow were hesitant to appear in their cameos as New Republic X-Wing pilots, but Filoni decided to do his because he was afraid of Favreau calling him chicken.
- Favreau says the earliest idea for the show was doing a version of Star Wars that felt very small and reflected the genres that originally influenced George Lucas: westerns, samurai films, and World War II adventure films.
- He says it was a good idea to start with an entirely new set of characters to invite younger viewers into the show without requiring too much backstory. He wanted to hear more from a Boba Fett-type bounty hunter character.
- Filoni says he likes not knowing what's coming next in a story, and that's why they protected the reveal of The Child. But they also wanted to establish Mando as a ruthless gunslinger before The Child sparks a change in him.
- Filoni talked about what a risk it was to have a puppet character like Yoda be a major character in The Empire Strikes Back, and how they wanted to carry over the success of that to The Mandalorian. Werner Herzog bought into the character of The Child more than any other actor.
- Famuyiwa was worried about having to make people connect to The Child and his journey with The Mandalorian, but he and the other directors made the decision early on to treat the puppet like an actor.
- Chow talked about how her father's love of Asian cinema influenced her direction of The Mandalorian. Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo was the biggest influence on the final battle sequence in episode 3, "The Sin."
- Howard talked about meeting actress Gina Carano for the first time, and having an "aha" moment about casting the right person for the role. Carano's fighting experience helped Favreau craft the character of Cara Dune to match who she is as a person.
- Howard directed the iconic "soup sipping" moment that became The Child's biggest meme online. She says her kids were on set almost every day and they immediately fell in love with "Baby."
- Favreau is shocked that the secret of The Child never leaked out from the set, considering how many young extras got to interact with the character. Howard says she reminded them every day not to tell their friends at school.
- Waititi talked about the moment where Din Djarin finally takes his mask off in the first season finale. He says it was a particularly stressful day of shooting because there were a lot of stormtroopers and fire to deal with.
- Waititi says he entered into production after the character relationships had already been established, so the other directors had already done most of the heavy lifting for him. But there was a lot of crossover and simultaneous shooting happening between the different directors.
- Filoni and Famuyiwa talked about how the filmmakers bonded during the pre-production and production stages of the show. Waititi was struck with how much prep went into each episode.
- Favreau says they used old lenses during production, and he talked about originally wanting to shoot the show in 16:9 format, but the director of photography convinced him to use 2.35:1 to help it look more like Star Wars.
- Favreau and Filoni praised the collaborative nature of making The Mandalorian at Lucasfilm and discussed the need to push technology forward while simultaneously matching the established Star Wars aesthetic.
- When asked what’s on the horizon for these filmmakers Star Wars-wise Waititi joked that he had already finished filming his feature. Chow says development is still ongoing for the Obi-Wan Kenobi live-action series, and Favreau says The Mandalorian season 2 finished production early enough that it wasn’t affected by the coronavirus lockdown and will be ready to release on Disney+ in time for its October premiere date.
The first season of The Mandalorian is available to stream exclusively on Disney+.