We'll start with the basics. Age? Where do
you live now? What do you do when not making animated movies?
I am 24, and I live in Ohio. During my free time I like to watch
movies. I'll watch almost anything, the good, the bad, and the crappy.
How did you get into brick animation?
I've always wanted to direct movies in Hollywood, but of course this
is not an option. I always like the idea of making movies with my
toys when I was younger, but I never had access to any type of film or
video equipment. When I saw the Lego Studio Moviemaker Set announcement,
I thought I would give it a try. I dug out my old Lego's and made
my first film, "The Lego Chainsaw Massacre". Since then, I've been
It's well known in the forum that you use the Studios product and
have some gripes about it. How could The Lego Company make it better?
One of my main gripes is that there isn't a Save button. This
is a real problem if the program shuts down because of an error and you
lose your work. A lot of gliches needed to be taken care of before it was
placed on the market.
Here are a few problems I have ran into.
*Movies typically over 4 to 5 minutes slows down the program taking
forever to load. This can also lead to spontaneous system errors
causing the program to automatically shut down and lose progress made on
*One of my movies would play in the "Show" area but make a mpeg file
[with errors]. The problem was caused because the first scene I filmed
was placed at the very end of the movie. After I deleted this scene,
the problem was fixed.
*Another one of my movies would play in the "Show"area, but not create
a mpeg file. This was caused by
putting Titles in the middle of my film. They were in the Film
area and not the Title area. I fixed this by filming a black scene
and then putting the title over top of it.
*When editing sounds and voice, the program might slowdown or cause
an error. This could lose all of the
progress you have made. Record voices or sounds with the Sound
Recorded in the Entertainment of your normal
Window Bar if you use Microsoft Windows. Save them in the Sound
folder, in Lego Studios, which should be in
your Program Files. This way you can cut and paste your voice
parts and save time re-recording.
[ed. - The default install path is C:/Program Files/LEGO Media/LEGO
*Save your progress if you have made a long animation scene or about
3 to 4 normal scenes. Save often. I
have never lost clips after they have been saved at least once, but
I have lost an entire edited movie with sound effects because of a program
[ed. - There is no actual save feature. You must quit to Windows
in order to have the program save. Nice feature, huh?]
*If the program is slowing down. Let it finish what it is doing
before continuing. Patience is the key to not losing information
by being frustrated.
I hope these help.
Whose works do you admire?
I really like John Carpenter, Halloween is my favorite movie.
I pretty much like any director that makes a good movie. This
includes Lego films. I'd love to see more from all directors.
Your first film, Lego Chainsaw Massacre, featured a great Leatherface.
Is that a customized fig? What else can you tell us about the making
of this film?
Leatherface was made from different pieces, but I drew a little mask
and placed it under his hair to hold it on. I worked a
long time on this movie, experimenting with different characteristics of
Studios and getting used to stop-motion animation. I tried to mimic
the basic story, and make it as comical as possible. I never really
finished the whole movie, we never saw what happened to the other 2 characters.
After I get a few more movies posted, I might go back and finish it the
way I wanted.
Could you take us through the scene where the camera pans around
the front of the house? This is a nice dramatic moment. How
was this accomplished?
The scene around the house was really easy. I set up the trees
to give it an creepy feel. I practiced moving the camera around on
a wheeled dolly made of Legos, but it was to jerky. I took it off
the dolly and slowly moved it through the trees on the table itself, which
worked much better. When filming live scenes, I find it more helpful
watching the CPU screen than trying to aim with the camera.
Your second film, The Thing, has some great scenes I'd like to discuss.
For instance, how did you do the shadow attack scene? What about
the light from the flare outside the base?
A regular flash light is all you need. I made a light grey wall
of Legos to reflect the image. The character was way off camera with
the light shown on him, but not directly so there wouldn't be a glare on
The light from the flare was from a flashlight with a red transparent
cockpit cover from one of my lego sets. Since the scene was stop-motion,
I moved the character, put the light directly over him, and snapped a picture.
I made sure the light was always directly over him and at about the same
height for every clip.
Yes, I used that same trick in "The Chase" to show the lights from
the police car. How did you create the muzzle flashes from the guns
in Part II?
This is a really cheap trick, but it works great. I cut out a
piece of wax paper from a sheet of stamps, because it is naturally shiny.
I cut it in a gun blast pattern that you see in a typical cartoon.
I drew a black dot in the center of it and then coated in it tape to reinforce
its shape. In the scene, I taped it to the muzzle of the gun, shined
a flashlight directly on it, and shot one frame of film. If stop
the movie on the fire burst, you can see the tape. When moving normal speed
though, you can't tell.
Near the end of the film, we see the Thing come up through the floorboards
and the camera pans up the monstrosity, with all of the characters that
have been killed now amalgamated into one mutation. That was spot
on to the scene in John Carpenter's movie. Did you watch the movie
as you were making this film? How did you decide what scenes to include
and which to exclude?
I watched the movie a few months ago. I can easily remember films
I have seen down to the detail, but I can't remeber crap about what I read
10 minutes ago in a text book. I actually used parts from the Howard
Hawk's original and the John Carpenter remake. The ice melt scene
was closer to the original, but most of it was from the remake. I
used the key points of the film, trimmed the dialouge, and sped up the
action. When I film my movies, I always make sure you can understand the
movie without the sounds.
Did you pay attention to camera angles, lighting, and other fine
details of Carpenter's work as you were filming?
Yes, the outside scenes were hard to film because I wanted to get the
lighting the same. The blue strobe lights mixing with the red flares.
Scenes at the end were as I recall from seeing the film. I want to
mimic and spoof the real films, but stay true to the basic story.
What do you use for lighting in your films? Do you have a custom-built
crane, dolly, or any other equipment you use?
I have a few lamps with the bendible necks that I use for bright scenes,
regular lamps for indoor or evening outside scenes, and flashlights for
Let's switch gears for a moment and talk about the LEGO film community.
What do you think of the recent controversy over Spite Your Face's legal
threat? What else excites, concerns, or interests you about the community?
I don't really know what to say. Most companies don't want you
using their products to make money, so I can
see that point. I don't know why they would get upset if you
made fan films for fun though. Unless someone
else has a similar experience, I can't really make an informed decision.
How many hours a week do you spend on movie-making? If you
were to divide up your time spent on the making of a film, what would be
the division between pre-production (script, building the sets), production
(filming), and post-production (editing, sound effects, titles)?
I don't really know how much time I spend making movies. Lego
Chainsaw took a while just because I was getting used to the program and
the process. It took about 2 weeks. I filmed both parts of
"The Thing" in 3 days. I would have had it totally finished in 2
more days if I wouldn't have run into problems with Lego Studio.
The longest parts to film in "The Thing" were the outside lighting scenes
What's your next project, after The Thing?
I'm going to start working on "The
Road Warrior". I might make one or two shorts that won't take
a lot of
time to make while I film the RW. I hope it turns out okay cause
it will have a lot of car chase and battle scenes. In the future
I might direct an original Lego movie, but I like the projects I am working
I have just started building the vehicles. I have a basic script,
but I don't know how long it wil be. It all depends on what kind
of wrecks and action scenes I make as I go along. I plan to keep
the action scenes tight since I don't have a giant desert landscape on
hand. It will be a challenge, but fun. I hope it works out,
but it is just for fun so who cares.
Yep, it is just for fun! Keep that in mind when you are working
on your next project, folks. Thanks to Andy for answering our questions.
Check out his films in The Directory.