Movie Picture

During our recent visit to WonderCon, MovieWeb got to go one-on-one with head of Lucasfilm fan relations, Steve Sansweet, to talk about the company's plans for the upcoming Star Wars TV series in the works.

There were rumors that Kevin Smith would be attached to the Star Wars TV show. Today, he said no.

Steve Sansweet: I can say no too. Kevin's a huge Star Wars fan and it's great to have Kevin as a Star Wars partisan. He's been really nice to us, he mixed the sound of almost all his movies, including the new one, Clerks 2. So no, Kevin's a great guy, but he's not involved in any current Star Wars project. Maybe someday in the future?

Speaking of the future, you said the Star Wars TV show is years away...

Steve Sansweet: We're doing it in two phases. The first is Star Wars animation, which is CG 3-dimensional animation, like a Toy Story, that takes place during the period of the Clone Wars that takes place between Episodes 2 and 3. And that we're setting for Fall of 2007. Preproduction is underway, we're doing animation test, people are working on initial scripts. So we're well under way on that. And George is very much taking hand and is very much part of the whole process. I know some people thought maybe he would just hey "hey, go do it," but George is Star Wars and he's always gonna be very closely involved in this.

The other project is live action, and the live action is going to take place between Episode 3 and Episode 4. We're looking at a 1 hour show and [Producer] Rick McCallum has said the ideal would be to come up with 100 hours to really get into the story line and characters, and that's the direction we're going in. So that is really targeted more towards the end of the decade.

Speaking of characters, we hear it's not going to be the main characters...

Steve Sansweet: Correct. That's what George has said. For the most part, it's going to be characters you've seen a little of or seen some of, and they will be the central figures. But of course the plot lines will have to take into account what is happening in the rest of the galaxy, so you'll hear the names Luke and Han and Darth and things like that.

So we will have a core group of heros, it won't be episodic with a new hero each episode?

Steve Sansweet: I think there will probably be story arcs where we'll have some very familiar kinds of character continuity. Ya, I think you need to do that to do it like a movie. For most movies, not like Star Wars, but most movies where every movie you do it's a different group of characters. No I don't think that's what Star Wars fans want or expect.

This sounds like possibly one of the most ambitious televisions projects EVER. How is it going to happen?

Steve Sansweet: Somebody has to buy it first, you know what I mean? You can produce lots of TV and unless it's very compelling, nobody's going to want to put it on their channel. But there's so many channels of distribution. You turn around and every 6 months there's something new. There's ipod downloads, there's premium sites, there's through-the-telephone. You just don't know what's going to be here in a couple of years. In 3 years, what's going to be the hot new way of distributing? So I think that's always a possibility. Clearly you want to do something that's going to get to as many fans as possible that's as wide as possible.

Do you think it's possible to see failure with the foundation of the Star Wars universe, the merchandise, the movies, the DVD's.

Steve Sansweet: If you're always concerned with failure, you're never going to go out there and take any risk at all. Star Wars itself was a huge risk from the very beginning. Even Empire Strikes Back. As successful as Star Wars was, the bank that was lending George money to make the movie independently cut off his credit line. Nothing is a sure thing. I think there's every indication that we're going to do things that people are going to like and there's the sort of way you head.

Would it be too early to speculate on new villains? A new Grievous/Darth Maul type?

Steve Sansweet: I think in the Clone Wars animation, I think it's possible that we're going to see villains that we already know, like Grievous. I think it's way to early to speculate what's going to happen in the TV show. I think George has an idea of what he wants to do, where he wants to go with it, what kinds of characters he wants in it, but that's something...he's working on the animation right now...that he'll explore later.

How come Jar Jar didn't die in Episode 3???

Steve Sansweet: You shouldn't assume things... I'm not saying he did, but all kinds of things happened off screen in different areas of the universe. I didn't see him in the funeral procession for Padme. But you never know the future of Jar Jar, there's a lot of years to go into with Star Wars. You don't know what happened between 3 and 4. That's a 19 year period, lots of stuff can happen.

As for the new TV show: There's so much dynamic action in the movies, can that possibly be duplicated for a TV show?

Steve Sansweet: Ya, I really think you can do that in episodic TV now. It's interesting because a lot of the techniques that Geroge used in Episode 1, for example, were things that he developed in "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles." Some of the special fx techniques of crowd, doubling, tripling, quadrupling the size. With computer animation and storage and rendering getting faster and faster, I think you'll be able to see some of the things you see in the movies be transfered to the TV. Look at some of the shows like Galactica and some of the other shows that have amazing special Fx."

Any idea on the music?

Steve Sansweet: Of course we used John Williams music in The Clone Wars, the cartoons on Cartoon Network. I don't know if any specific decision on that has been made.

3D Star wars, what can you tell us about that?

Steve Sansweet: Well, the technique exists. George and Rick McCallum are very excited about it, but you need to do a digital projection of the movie. That's how this system works. Look, there's like 90 screens in the US that have digital projections, the same number they had back in 1999, that's clearly not going to do it. You need at least 1,000 or a couple of thousand theaters in order to spend the kind of money it takes to convert the film to 3D. Late in 2005 and and this year, a lot of theaters are announcing that they are going to switch to digital projection. People have come up with a standard for the projection and they're coming up with schemes in order to finance it. It's just a matter of time. If there will be enough theaters by 2007 or if we'll have to wait a little bit longer. But it's going to happen, and it's going to happen in the near future.

Ya, we have James Cameron, Robert Rodreguiz...

Steve Sansweet: Ya, a lot of people are going digital. The thing with digital is, it's just a transmission method. It can look like film. You can make it do whatever you want to do. It's just an easier kind of thing to use.

Indiana Jones?

Steve Sansweet: We're all hoping. We have our fingers crossed. There's a script that's been done. We just need to get the buy-off of three very independent men: Harrison Ford, Steven Speilberg and George Lucas. And were all hoping that there is an agreement and that we can go ahead and film Indy 4 sometime this year, late this year.

Any details you can give up?

Steve Sansweet: George knows, Harrison knows and Steven knows, and they are keeping a very closed mouth about it. I don't know, that's for sure.

Any last comments you wanna throw in there?

Steve Sansweet: It's so great to see the fans out there supporting us. And they know, as we've been saying, "Star Wars is forever." We really mean it and that's because the fans have been so supportive. They want more and we're going to give them more. As long as they want it, we're going to have it for them.