The 2016 Star Wars Fan Film Awards are now open. Here's a message from Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams about making your own 5 minute film for the contest:

There are a bunch of different categories to win, including Filmmaker Select, Best Animation, Best Non-Fiction, Spirit of Fandom, Best Comedy, Best Visual Effects, and Audience Choice. All of these come with a $250 prize. To give you a sense of films that have won in the past, here is a playlist with all of the winners from 2015:

It should be noted that The Lesser Evil was the correct 5 minute length for the contest, but was extended on YouTube to include the opening crawl, and the Star Wars main theme, which is not included in the sound pack. While the sound effects in the free sound pack are directly from the films, none of the music is. This means some of the options are slightly cheaper-sounding alternatives that might be more welcome in a video game than in a film. Unfortunately, you have to use what's in the sound pack, so nothing from the actual films or your own music is allowed.

Submitting to the Fan Film Awards

The submissions must be a maximum of 5 minutes and are open through 11:59 PM PST on April 24, 2016. Submitters who are 13+ in the US and Canada (except Quebec) are eligible, and you must be 18+ in the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico to be eligible. The films must be in English, German, or Spanish, and have subtitles if they are not in English. You can submit one film per person. Here is the judging criteria (official rules are here):

  1. A clear grasp of animation and/or filmmaking as an art form (17%)
  2. Quality of storytelling (17%)
  3. Character development and character design (17%)
  4. Voiceover and acting talent (17%)
  5. Originality (17%)
  6. Overall entertainment value (15%)

Here are some of the things you should do:

  • Do be original. Feel free to put your own spin on the Star Wars franchise and make sure what you create is original and doesn’t contain third party materials protected by copyright or other intellectual property rights
  • Do use sound materials from the Pack. If you want to use music or soundclips in your Video, only use sound materials provided in the Pack on the Website. Please do not include any sound materials that are not from the Pack or you will be disqualified.

And some of the things you shouldn't do:

  • Don't show any brands or logos, famous landmarks, buildings, books, works of art etc. That means no visible/recognizable use anywhere in the Video of brands on clothes, sneakers, in the background, or other things which may be subject to third party intellectual property rights, such as (for example) famous landmarks, buildings or works of art. Please do not include any references to Star Trek®.
  • Don't include any names and/or likenesses of any person other than you in the Submission without first obtaining written permission (this includes not using images/voices of famous people). You will be responsible for getting written permission from any person included in your Video (or their parent/guardian in the case of minors).
  • Don't be rude or use profanity. Avoid bad language, rude gestures and other inappropriate stuff.
  • Don’t use any sound materials that are not from the Pack.

Even with all of the restrictions, it still looks like an interesting contest, especially if you love the Star Wars universe. Companies seem to have a love/hate relationship with fan films, but at least Lucasfilm and Disney are encouraging it here. To read more about the contest and enter your own film, head on over to the site here

Source: Star Wars