Star Wars Fan Awards Pro Tips: Advice for Making Your Best Entry from Matt Martin

Words of wisdom from a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group!

It’s safe to say that Matt Martin knows Star Wars. As a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, he’s contributed to, advised, and guided everything from Star Wars films to animated series to comics. Moreover, as a StarWars.com team and Star Wars social media alum who served as a Star Wars Fan Film Awards judge for years, it’s also safe to say that he really knows fan-made Star Wars content.

That’s why we’ve asked Martin to offer up some general tips for prospective entrants in the Star Wars Fan Awards 2018. Whether you’re making a video, work of art, or photo, you’ll find Yoda-like wisdom here that can make your project most impressive.

Here are Martin’s top four tips for creating great Star Wars anything.

1. Be original.

There’s an easy way to have your work stand out from the pack: make something wholly original. It doesn’t matter if it’s a video, painting, sculpture, photograph, or whatever — say what you want to say, not what others have said before you. “Audiences have been seeing Star Wars stories told for over 40 years now and there are some key themes that can get hit over and over,” Martin says. “Find a new angle. Something unique and personal and tell that story: a story no one else can tell but you.”

2. Don’t forget the fun.

Star Wars isn’t all lightsaber duels over lava and surprise parentage reveals. It’s also C-3PO calling R2-D2 an “overweight glob of grease.” It’s an Ewok stealing a speeder bike. It’s a porg being tossed around the Falcon cockpit while Chewie tries to steer. In other words, Star Wars is also really fun.

“Humor is one of the key elements of Star Wars’ success and it can also help you succeed in the Fan Awards,” Martin says. “I’m not saying you need to make a comedy, but just remember to include some levity in your story.”

Comedic moments or elements can serve as a break between more serious aspects of your story; they can act as an Easter egg in a photo or other work of static art; they can show a different side of your characters and yourself. Just like in Star Wars. So embrace your sense of humor and bring it into your work where appropriate.

“It’s those small character moments and those bits of fun that really set Star Wars apart from your everyday action film,” Martin says. “You want to include at least some humor. It will go a long way toward connecting with your audience.”

3. Be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Keeping things simple and lean is never a bad idea. You might have something you love — a line in a film, a detail in a painting, etc. — but if it distracts or detracts from the larger whole, don’t be afraid to remove it.

“If you’re making a film, editing is key,” Martin says. “It’s hard to cut things that you worked so hard on, but in order to tell a clear and concise story, you’ll have to make some tough decisions. In the end you’ll be glad you did.” Yes, this even extends to one of Star Wars’ trademark action set pieces. “If you shoot a pretty good five-minute lightsaber duel,” Martin says, “you can probably cut it into a really incredible one-minute duel.”

4. Rules are made to be followed.

Imagine working really hard on your epic movie. It’s filled with dazzling visual effects and creative sound mixing, your actors are amazing, and the story is thrilling. Everyone you show it to loves it! And then…you go ahead and submit it with a five-minute, 30-second running time — a half-minute over the allowed limit. Congrats: your entry is disqualified!

“Follow the rules,” Martin says. “I know, rules are a bummer, but they exist for a reason. And if you don’t follow them, you’ll be disqualified and no one will see your masterpiece.”

This goes for all entries. Read the rules carefully, then re-read them. Be sure you’re complying every step of the way in the making of your work. The last thing you want is for some small oversight to ruin your chances of winning. As Yoda said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Remember that when it comes to adhering to the rules.

Check out more advice from Martin on this week’s episode of The Star Wars Show below!

Get more Star Wars Fan Awards tips from Lucasfilm’s behind-the-scenes filmmaker, Ian Bucknole!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.​ Enter contest between 7/18/18 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (“PT”) and 9/17/18 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., Canada (excluding Quebec), Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico who are 13+ at time of entry. Limit 1 submission per genre per person. There are 34 Star Wars prize packs available to be won (Estimated Value: US$200 each). See Official Rules {https://www.starwars.com/star-wars-fan-awards-official-rules-2018} for full details on how to enter, eligibility requirements, prize description and limitations. Void in Quebec and where prohibited. Sponsor: Disney Online, 500 South Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91521-7667.

Photos by Kyle Kao.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

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