By: Dominic Jones
It seems there has been a shakeup behind the scenes at Lucasfilm animation. Big Shiny Robot is reporting that, as of the Season Three premiere of Star Wars Rebels, Dave Filoni is no longer the Supervising Director of the series. That's not to say he's no longer working on the series, he remains an executive producer and has been actively involved in the promotion of the new season. Filoni has held the title of supervising director on two animated Star Wars series now. He served in that role from 2008-2013 on Star War: The Clone Wars before taking on the role again (as well as the title of executive producer) on Star Wars Rebels in 2014.
The new supervising director is Justin Ridge, who's previously worked as an episodic director on The Clone Wars and Rebels. Ridge was one of the first people brought on board on Rebels, directing the Sabine and Zeb prelude shorts "Art Attack" and "Entaglement", which were released in the lead up to Season One. He also directed the penultimate episode of the first season "Rebel Resolve", as well as the Clone Wars episodes "Rookies" and "Holocron Heist".
So far no reason has been given for this shakeup, however we know discussions are underway about the next Star Wars animated series. It would be reasonable to speculate that Filoni has been moved from being supervising director on Rebels to supervising director on this new show. As stated above, it appears he remains involved in Rebels but perhaps his role has shifted from handling the everyday work to overseeing the big picture work. This would free him up to work with writers on developing a new series to air either along side Rebels or after Rebels wraps up (assuming it only has one or two more seasons left). To take the speculation one step further, perhaps this new series (again assuming he is working on a new series) could have something to do with why he visited the set of Episode VIII earlier this year....
Hopefully, it does turn out that Filoni is moving on to a new series and not simply scaling back his role at Lucasfilm in anticipation of leaving. Regardless, Filoni's work on Star Wars animation has left a massive imprint on the franchise as a whole and he deserves great praise for what he has accomplished. His legacy will be a tough one to live up to, but I'm sure Justin Ridge is up to the challenge! (Plus, it helps that Filoni is still there to help guide Ridge and the series going forward).
Update: Big Shiny Robot has received an official statement from Lucasfilm concerning the news:
"Dave is still just as involved as ever - overseeing all aspects of Star Wars Rebels production as Executive Producer and occasionally directing episodes. In many ways, mentoring Justin and moving him into the role as Supervising Director has made it possible for Dave to be even more immersed in the writing and story structure of the show as well as creatively overseeing future animation development. Justin started with Lucasfilm Animation on the first season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and worked with Dave before that on Avatar: The Last Airbender, so they've been working together for quite some time."
Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.