‘Star Wars’: Dave Filoni Reveals How He Really Feels about ‘Chasing What Fans Are Going to Like’

The future of the “galaxy far, far away” is starting to come into focus. Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi will direct an upcoming Star Wars movie. And The Mandalorian Season 2 adds fan-favorite like Ahsoka Tano and Boba Fett into the fold.

And if recent successes like that Disney+ series and Star Wars: The Clone Wars signal what’s to come, then Star Wars rests with Dave Filoni. The writer-director-producer worked directly with George Lucas to make The Clone Wars happen. And he has led the saga’s TV projects ever since.

Now the Star Wars saga faces a creative crossroads, especially after The Rise of Skywalker. And Filoni has shared his perspective on catering to fans.

Dave Filoni at Star Wars Celebration
Dave Filoni at Star Wars Celebration | Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

The ‘Star Wars’ fan community is at odds more now than ever

Lucasfilm probably thought bringing J.J. Abrams back to the saga would be a slam dunk. After all, The Force Awakens is generally well-liked. And circling back to Abrams after Rian Johnson’s divisive The Last Jedi seemed like a smart business move.

Unfortunately, despite making $1 billion, Abrams’ second Star Wars movie disappointed at the box office. Moreover, fans and critics were mostly underwhelmed by the muddled storytelling. Abrams’ attempts to reconcile both his vision and Johnson’s only added to the animosity among fans.

So with the Skywalker saga finally over, Star Wars can move on to other stories and characters. Yet, all the drama in the franchise lately begs the question: how much should creators listen to fans?

Dave Filoni has a very specific take about how to approach the saga

Filoni is uniquely positioned at the forefront of Star Wars storytelling. So his take on how fans should impact upcoming projects in the saga is especially impactful. Speaking with Deadline recently, Filoni confesses he tries to focus on his own instincts as a creator.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, as the storyteller you have to tell a story that you like and hope other people like it too. I think that there’s enough shared sensibilities of what we all liked about Star Wars as far as this being an adventure, it’s fun, there’s a great deal of tension and mythology, but you know, everyone can come at it from a different point of view.

Filoni’s mention of how a fan’s “point of view” informs how they connect to the saga feels decidedly on brand for Star Wars. Yet, unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, fans sometimes forget just how broad — and therefore subjective — the series is. Everyone has their own opinion on what makes “good” Star Wars. And fans’ recent responses to the saga are a testament to that divide.

George Lucas’ influence informed Dave Filoni’s ‘Star Wars’ work

Because Filoni worked directly with Lucas, he also carries some insight into Lucas’ perspective. The Star Wars creator certainly wasn’t immune to fan backlash, especially regarding the prequel trilogy. But, as Filoni revealed to Deadline, he and Lucas didn’t discuss how to please fans.

George and I, we never really talked in those terms as far as what the fans would allow. It was more his experiences making the films and more his sensibilities that we always discussed. … I always felt if you’re just chasing what fans are going to like or not I don’t think you’ll ever get done.

In his work on Star Wars, Filoni has emulated Lucas’ approach to the saga. And it’s his deep thought and careful consideration of the series’ mythos that impresses many fans. Early on during The Clone Wars, Filoni had an epiphany he said has carried him through more than a decade at Lucasfilm.

“I thought, if I can’t make this show in a way that’s natural to me, that George likes, then I probably shouldn’t be doing it,” Filoni said. “I would be wrong for it, and that would be fine. But I had to take my crack at doing it off of what he taught me and see if it worked. And so far, so good. Fifteen years later, I’m still here. So I guess I get it right most of the time.”