If you’re not already set to binge-watch The Mandalorian, then you can still catch up. When you love Star Wars (and who doesn’t?), then you know who George Lucas is. The creator of the iconic franchise is one of the most well-known people in the world. However, casual fans are less familiar with the dynamic and incredibly talented Dave Filoni, despite all he’s done for the franchise. We decided to dig around and help educate the millions of fans worldwide about the creative genius that is Dave. Here are ten things you didn’t know about Dave Filoni, other than the fact that he now oversees all of Lucasfilm Animation.
1. Mt. Lebanon
Mt. Lebanon is a fairly sleepy suburb outside of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The people there don’t spend any more or less time daydreaming about the stars than people do in other places, but for one little boy, it was where his Star Wars dreams began. Dave Filoni was a fan from the moment he first saw Star Wars as a kid. Dave grew up, as so many fanboys do, with a love of the incredible iconic space-universe always in the back of his mind. In those days, he never thought he’d become a part of it all. However, as it turns out, Dave Filoni’s story is like that of many fictional heroes. He wasn’t anyone special, but he had talent and dreams that were destined, with a lot of hard work, to come true.
2. Classical Music
Growing up, Dave had more than just Star Wars to influence him. In fact, his father was a huge fan of classical music, and that was something he passed on to his son. When you see the new Star Wars cartoons, and you hear the grand sweep of a symphony that harkens back to an earlier era, you can thank Mr. Filoni’s father for instilling a deep appreciation of classical music into his son. That’s what we call a great inheritance.
3. Go Pens!
The Pittsburg Penguins, known to their fans as The Pens, are a professional ice hockey team and members of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. There are plenty of sports teams that can lay claim to famous fans, but only one has the eye of the man who inherited the Lucasverse. Dave Filoni has always been a fan of hockey, and he supports his local team whenever he has the chance, attending games in his jersey to cheer them on.
4. Pilots in the Family
Dreams of flying must run in the Filoni family. Dave’s grandfather was a pilot, and he wasn’t the only one in the family who can fly. One of Filoni’s uncles, a fellow pilot, also specialized in airplane restoration. Dave has credited both of them for inspiring him. Particularly with regards to the concept of Star Wars Resistance, he was motivated by the avionic history of his own family. You can see their effect on his work in the many flight scenes. Dave knows what it feels like to soar through the skies.
5. Cartoon Royalty
Even if he’d never gotten that fateful call to come and meet George Lucas for a job interview, Dave Filoni would still be a big part of cartoon history. He’s best known for his time at Nickelodeon, working on Avatar, the Last Airbender. However, he also contributed substantially to many other fantastic and well-known cartoons. Among them are shows like Kim Possible, King of the Hill, American Dragon Jake Long, and The Oblongs. Filoni’s eclectic style and sense of the character interactions with each other and their environments helped shape the storyboards and more for many of the Nick cartoons we enjoyed during the late 90s and early 00s. We can’t imagine what animation (recent) history would look like without him.
6. Artist, Director, and So Much More
In the course of his phenomenal career, Dave has done more than just work on storyboards. He has worked as a concept artist, creator, and developer for much of the Star Wars animated universe. Moreover, Filoni has spent time as an assistant director and director on numerous shows. He’s been shaping our cartoon dreams for the last two decades, and hopefully, he’ll still be at it for another two or more.
7. That Voice Sounds Familiar
Most artists and directors stay out of the limelight. You’ll see them at the premier, or collecting an award at one of the many ceremonies that focus more heavily on the on-screen talent. Dave isn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone backstage and pitch in with more than just his art. He’s done a bit of voice acting for Star Wars. In 2016 he did a cameo as Chopper in Rogue One. He also gave Embo the Bounty Hunter a voice in The Clone Wars, reprised his role as Chopper, and has been known to play the odd Stormtrooper, Rebel Crewman, or Mandalorian Warrior.
8. Marching Band and W.O.W
When it comes to being a professional nerd, Dave has it down to a science, and we love him for it. From that cowboy hat that has become his signature to his level eighty Night Elf on World of Warcraft, Dave isn’t afraid to let his geek flag fly. Back in high school, he was even in the marching band, though we couldn’t find any record of which instrument he plays.
Did we mention that Dave loves hockey? He enjoys the sport so much that he even tried his hand at it for quite a while. During his senior year at Mount Lebanon High, Dave was the starting goaltender on the hockey team. After he graduated in 1992, Filoni moved on to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. During his four years at EU, he played club hockey.
10. He Thought it Was a Joke
When he finally got the call in 2005 to come to California and meet George Lucas, Dave thought the whole thing was a joke. In spite of all he’d achieved, and his outstanding talent, it was just too much for the humble, creative genius to accept. The emperor of all things Star Wars genuinely wanted to meet him… and offer him a job.
We love a good story, and Dave Filoni doesn’t just help tell them. In a very real way, he lives in his own fairytale world where a suburban boy who loved space ships and Jedi got to grow up and become the man who’s in charge of some of the most famous characters and spacecraft of all time. We couldn’t be more thrilled that this is the guy who George Lucas gave the keys to his kingdom, and we look forward to watching the rest of The Mandalorian and everything else Dave makes for us for the rest of his career.