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George Lucas: Seven Reasons to See 'Star Wars: Clone Wars'

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Aug 14, 2008 | 4:35am EDT

George Lucas’ new fall television show, Stars Wars: The Clone Wars is getting off to a great start with a feature length film of the same name. The story takes place between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, so fans will get to see many familiar face--only this time in animation. Hollywood.com traveled to Northern California to meet with Lucas at his Big Rock Ranch and the mogul gave us seven great reasons to check out the new movie, in theaters this Friday. .

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Reason#1: Animation opens up the storytelling

“The fun part about animation especially in the Clone Wars in particular, is that we're allowed to go and do stories about clones. We get to know them and find out what they do for recreation and what Jabba the Hut's family is all about, do all kinds of things that don't have anything to do with the main character. The film itself, the series itself, the epic itself is basically about one man, so it's very, very narrow. You pass through a lot of things and you look, what's that over there, but you never get to look at it. So this allows us to go and look at all that stuff which means we're not encumbered by this mythological uberstory of the psychological underpinnings of why somebody turns to be a bad person.”

Reason #2: The idea was a long time coming

“I started out in animation. I studied animation when I was at college and produced some work that was a lot of fun, had a lot of animated films and stuff in my career and I've always been interested in it. When we did Revenge of the Sith, I lamented the fact that I couldn't, I had to jump over the Clone Wars. I jumped over the Clone Wars because it had nothing to do with Anakin Skywalker. He's just another player. It's not about his, as I say, we had a very narrow focus on talking about him personally. So I couldn't do that. I said, "Gee, it's too bad because there's a great, it's like World War II. It's a huge canvas there to be mined."

Reason #3: George set out to make the best TV show ever and it became much more than that

“We decided we would do a little five minute animation series for Cartoon Network using anime and manga and those kind of ideas that I've always wanted to work in…that sort of got me going and saying, "You know, we could do a regular TV show, a big one, a half an hour show and it could really be great… I got to fill in a blank and go around in a universe that is not restricted and therefore not quite as dark and we can have a lot more fun with it. We can enjoy it. It's a little bit more lighthearted. We ended up doing the TV series. The first few shots came back and I looked at them on the big screen. I said, "This is fantastic. This is better than we ever imagined it would be and this is so good it could be a feature”…we wanted to make the best television series that had ever been created, and it ended up being good enough to be a movie.”

Reason #4: He and his team didn’t buckle under the pressure of blazing a new trail in animation

“Well, it's challenging. Art is a technological medium. All art is so a lot of it has to do with engineering, trying to figure out how to create what you imagine. It is also a medium that is dictated primarily by any amount of resources you have available to you. If you're a pharaoh you can build pyramids. If you're a Shaman, you really only have a few pieces of chalk and a wall of a cave and you have to work within that. Probably the most daunting thing we were trying to do, because we wanted to really push the limits and make, what just started out as a TV show that was really beyond anything you've ever seen on television, to take feature animation, which costs 20-30 times what TV animation costs and do that for television, something that actually looked like feature animation for television, that was a challenge. Given enough time and money, anybody can create anything but given a very, very restricted budget and very, very restricted resources, it's a challenge so we had to build studios. We had to build a studio from scratch, train people from scratch, artists. Develop new techniques. We did not make this in the normal way you make an animated feature.”

Reason #5: The movie features a few new voices and a few familiar ones too

“You need people available every week and you can't really afford multimillion dollar actors to do a television series. A television series, the license fee on your average television series is about $200,000. It's nothing. So those guys make more during their coffee break. When we decided to do the feature, when I said, "Hey, this is great. Let's do a feature." Then we went back to the actors and we said, "Okay." We told them we were doing the TV series just so they knew, as a courtesy, but then we said, "Look, we're doing a feature. Would you like to do the voice in the feature?" Some of them said yes, some of them were off doing features because this all was done, again, fairly rapidly. It wasn't like we said, "Okay, next June we're going to do this." It's like, "Could you come in in a month, in four weeks and do this? Can we have two days?" Some of them were all over the world and some of them said, "Yeah, it would be great, I'll come in and do it" and some of them couldn't.”

Reason #6: George believes in quality over publicity

“The idea of hiring a really good actor, a Tom Hanks to play the thing, was a really revolutionary idea. That was mostly Jeff Katzenberg who said, "You know, we need really top actors." Well, there are a lot of top actors that aren't movie stars. Partly they did it because they were great actors. Partly they did it because they wanted to use them for publicity, so they could sit up here and talk to you… To be very honest with you, much as I love you guys, I don't really think I need to hire an actor, a big movie star to go and publicize my movie. If the movie works and you like it and you love it, that's fine.”

Reason #7: It’s not just a boys game anymore:  Meet Ahsoka

"Ahsoka was primarily, I wanted to develop a character that would help Anakin settle down. He was, at the end of Episode II, is kind of a wild child. He and Obi Wan don't get along. So the idea was to see how they become friends, how they become partners, how they become a team. Then one of the ways to do that, because when you become a parent, you become a teacher. You have to sort of become more responsible. It sort of forces you into this adulthood thing. So what I wanted to do was take Anakin and force him into this kind of "now I have to teach somebody and now I have to be slightly more responsible and I have to…" So it was that juxtaposition. I happen to have a couple daughters so I have a lot of experience with that particular situation and I just said, rather than making it another guy, why don't we make her a girl because that's fun. I have a lot of girls and they're just as hard to deal with in their teenage years as boys are. That's really how that. Ventriss, he's the expert on that."

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