By Pete Vilmur
Back in July, when we launched the first Clone Wars blog entry with coverage from the Celebrations in L.A. and London, supervising director Dave Filoni touched on a topic I knew I'd want to circle back to at some point -- what it's like working on Clone Wars in the place many consider the spiritual center of all things Star Wars -- Skywalker Ranch.
Skywalker, after all, is the place where most of the Star Wars saga has been developed over the years, and where much of the saga still resides -- original props, concept art, costumes, manuscripts, and more are all carefully housed on-site, occupying a plot of land many fans consider the most hallowed of ground.
And we can't forget the people -- many of the employees currently working at Skywalker have long been associated with the saga, either directly or indirectly, and have become the resident custodians of its legacy.
Big Rock Ranch
With Clone Wars, Dave Filoni has joined the ranks at Skywalker, working from Lucasfilm Animation's headquarters at Big Rock Ranch, which geographically shares Skywalker's border. Make no mistake, though -- Big Rock is Skywalker, it just happens to have its own gate -- and a namesake rock. The studio gate is where any similarity with Hollywood ends, though.
Green hills roll behind the Tech Building at Skywalker
"The biggest thing you instantly take in working here is that it's a different environment than anywhere you would work in Los Angeles," says Filoni. "Everyone that comes here has that same feeling -- you're out in the countryside away from any urban concrete setting, and the building spaces that George designed and created are really fantastic and aesthetically beautiful. So it inspires you in that way already."
The benefit of working at the center of the Star Wars universe is not lost on Filoni. He recognizes hints of the saga reflected in the landscape itself. "You've got redwood trees here, like where the speeder bikes went by," he says. "You come up over the rolling hills at Big Rock and it's like Naboo where they have the Gungan battle. There are all these little things that start to remind you, wow, I bet this was kind of in the back of George's mind when he was creating Star Wars. So you really get the sense that it's going to influence our creativity in that we're making it at the same place. I think everyone working on the art feels that."