ATX Television Festival had a stacked panel for Disney+’s The Mandalorian with show creator, executive producer and writer Jon Favreau as well as show directors Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Taika Waititi.
From the get-go, Favreau had an idea of how he wanted to frame the Star Wars spin-off. Says Favreau in the pre-recorded panel: “It was specifically doing a version of Star Wars that felt small and felt like it reflected the genres that influenced George [Lucas] originally: space adventure, westerns, samurai films, WWII adventure films — those are the genres that inspired the tropes.”
He added, “These were at once original, but also a reflection of our cinematic past.” He wanted to give the world a new set of characters for those who do not have the Star Wars history that many fans have. He wanted the show that could invite people into this universe. In a sense, he used the classic Mandalorian character Boba Fett as a launching pad and teamed with Filoni, who has experience writing about the Mandolorian world in The Clone Wars animated series, for the show which is “a good opportunity to delve into this world”
Then there is Baby Yoda, who is essentially the break out star of all of the series. For Famuyiwa, who directed the episodes “The Child” and “The Prisoner”, he talked about how to use Baby Yoda as a reflection of Mando (Pedro Pascal), who is masked for the majority of the series. “To me it was all about this young child’s face and his discovery of the world along with Mando re-discovering who he was,” said Famuyiwa.
Baby Yoda is a mix of puppeteering and digital work, but Famuyiwa said that early on, they knew the group made the decision to treat him like an actor.
For Chow, she was influenced by Hong Kong action movies for her episodes “The Sin” and “The Reckoning” — particularly with the huge that echoed a Western shoot-out. She said that her dad was a huge fan of Hong Kong action movies and Chinese soaps and admits that it influenced her episodes. “It wasn’t intentional, I absorbed it by default,” she said, adding that she was inspired by Akira Kurosawa 1961 film Yojimbo and John Woo’s Hard Boiled from 1992.
In the episode “Sanctuary”, Howard helped introduce the new character of Cara Dune played Gina Carano. Howard said that Cara and Carano are both female warriors and felt that was unique for many to see. “It’s not a new female archetype, but it is definitely one that is getting more real estate in a story,” she said. “A lot of thought went into that.”
Waititi plays two roles in The Mandalorian. He voices the droid IG-11 and directs the final episode of season “Redemption” which has plenty of pay off. “I just came in at the end after all these guys did the heavy lifting,” jokes Waititi.
“Redemption” marks a big moment in the series, we see Mando remove his mask. Waititi said it was a “stressful day”.
“There were so many things happening all at once in that particular moment,” he said. “I think I was more stressed out about getting something on camera.”
“I knew it was supposed to be an emotional moment,” he continued. “It struck me at that moment that we haven’t seen the main character’s face and you have to create an emotional bond with the character and the baby.”
Filoni said that everyone was learning as they went because no one has done anything like this before. “We kind of bonded on that in the best way possible,” he said.
As the panel came to a close, Chow was asked about the progress on her Obi-Wan spin-off which she said is still in development while Waititi said that his new Star Wars film is all done (obviously, he was kidding).
Favreau also jumped in and talked about what to expect from season 2 of The Mandalorian which finished photography before lockdown. “We are building what people loved about the first season,” he said of the season which is slated to debut on Disney+ in October. “It doesn’t feel like the next season, it feels like we’re continuing.”