October 30th, 2022




Marty, tell us a little more about yourself. Where did your desire to be a director come from?
I used to dream about filmmaking as a kid, but life decided otherwise. I kept my fascination with film art and making cool moving images though. With time I started exploring the storytelling side of it. I wanted to make something that would induce certain feelings, not just from a visual angle, but on a more personal level. For years I worked on other people’s projects and finally realized I’d like to tell stories from my own perspective.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, what is your background?
I’m a CG generalist, and I have been working in VFX for a number of years. A few years back I shifted to animation, and I’m working as a CG Supervisor in preschool TV shows. Most recently I decided to follow my childhood dream about making my own films, and “The Fair Trade” is the first outcome of that decision.
Apart from Star Wars, what were your references and your inspirations for making “The Fair Trade: A Star Wars Fan Film ”?

A fan film is a very specific genre. What I wanted to achieve was to recreate the feeling that made me fall in love in this universe when I first saw “A NEW HOPE”, so it naturally became the main inspiration. But to stay true to the 70’s way of visual storytelling I needed to go back to the roots. I researched a lot of interviews with mr. George Lucas and followed inspirations he followed. I reached for the classics like 1962 Lawrence of Arabia, or 1969 Battle of Britain.

One of the most important references, however, were documentaries about technical aspects of moviemaking in that period. There’s virtually nothing you wouldn’t be able to show on screen these days. We have advanced camera gear, drones, sophisticated lighting, CG imagery presenting no limitation to camera moves or what’s in frame. But that wasn’t the case in the 70’s. There was only so much you could do with your camera and you had to be very careful about how much set design, props or costumes you can have to keep it within your budget. And those limitations were influencing the feel of the final film.

For years I worked on other people's projects and finally realized I'd like to tell stories from my own perspective.

Why did you choose to make a Fanfilm, it’s a more complicated genre to distribute?
I think when you wanna start doing something you’ve never done before, start with something that comes naturally. I’m not original in saying that Star Wars influenced my life and it sits very deep in my mind. This film started as a learning project and I simply dived into the world I knew and loved. And finally I spotted an opportunity to share my personal angle on Star Wars with fellow fans.
How do you manage to appropriate Star Wars, how do you manage to give your own originality and your vision in such a coded and known universe?

The first thing I did was emailing Lucasfilm. I didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes making something in a universe that doesn’t belong to me, no matter how much I love it. I was amazed with their reply and grateful for how supportive their approach was. I have received clear guidelines for what I can and cannot do, and so it started. I was really trying to be as genuine and honest as I possibly could making my first film.

There was a lot of research involved, and even though, I had to remind myself at nearly every other shot – “hey, they wouldn’t do this in the 70s!”. But that’s right – I didn’t stay 100% faithful to the references. I went back to my own memories and tried to incorporate them into the film.
One good example are voices of the Jawas, which are a bit higher pitched than in the original. This is how I remembered them from when I watched A NEW HOPE for the first time as a kid. This first impression faded away with time and with every next time I watched it – and believe me, it was a lot of times! But I simply wanted that feeling back.

We really feel the passion in your film and your love for Star Wars and the Jawas! We find the atmosphere of the first Star Wars of 1977, can you give us your opinion on the Star Wars films of today?
The Star Wars Universe expanded to enormous size. It is directed to millions of fans all over the world, of different generations, gender and ethnicity and it’s hard to judge from a single person perspective. As a fan of the classic trilogy I’m naturally pulled towards some of them more than the others, but – to be honest – I find something appealing to me personally in every single film and I go back to all of them when I get time. And the most beautiful thing is – everyone will find something different, but relevant to them in those films. I would compare it to a town. One loves going to the park, other will choose the mall, but at the end of day – this is our town, our home.

I think when you wanna start doing something you've never done before, start with something that comes naturally.

Let’s talk about the effects, we were very impressed with the quality of the rendering! The 3D and the textures are incredible, it’s very rare such a level in Fanfilm. What software did you work with?
Thanks! It’s a huge compliment to me and the Team! It was the moment when Epic Games released Unreal Engine 5. The same software you can see at work in, for example, “The Mandalorian”. As I said, this film started as a learning project – I was simply trying to dive into the new Unreal, and it came out great!
We know that animation takes a lot of time in a film, how long did you work on the animation and post-production of the film?

Both the animation and VFX are changing. The real-time technologies are taking over, going deeper and deeper into the industry. The entire production took 6 months from the release of Unreal Engine5 Early Access on 26th of May 2021 to the release of “The Fair Trade” on 25th of October.
But it’s hard to distinguish specific steps, because all of them happen at the same time. Animation was a combination of motion capture, external animation and hand animation directly in the Engine and it was spread across the entire duration of the project, but it took a fraction of time it would take in the traditional animation workflow. As for the post production – the visual side was done on the fly in Engine.

The sound design took a few weeks, also overlapping with visual work, oftentimes going back and forth, tweaking sound to the picture or vice versa. I, personally, find the real-time process liberating, when you don’t need to wait for the previous step to be closed to start the next one!

What is your next project?
I’m about to release a 3 minute adventure short titled “The Treasure” which is a result of the Unreal Fellowship I had an honor and a pleasure to be a part of. We’re finishing the sound design at the moment and hopefully it should be out in a few weeks. It’s different from “The Fair Trade” both in style and feel, but I hope it will bring warm feelings and put a smile on faces, like “The Fair Trade” did.