ASIFA-Hollywood was at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con and attended many press junkets for films being released in 2013 and beyond. With so many films using animation to help tell stories, we’ll be posting articles on some of the highlights from the 2013 event in future articles.
In The Lego Movie, which utilizes a mix of stop motion/computer-animation, is a comedy adventure film based on the Lego line of construction toys. An ordinary Lego minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil Lego tyrant from gluing the universe together.
Directors Chris Miller, Chris McCay and Phil Lord were on hand to discuss the film. Lord and Miller have a reputation for turning crazy and random concepts into popular hits. They were the creative minds behind Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. McCay perfected his craft co-directing episodes of Robot Chicken.
The Lego universe is one filled with many characters and Miller spoke to the concept of working with a vast amount of toy source material.
“There are robots, aliens, cowboys, monsters, animals and all colors of the rainbow,” said Miller. “We would say there are enough characters and worlds for many, many sequels.” Miller added that all Lego worlds are represented in this film, including superheroes and historical figures.
“At first we thought, ‘Oh, I don’t know. A movie based on a plastic brick?’ ” said Miller. “But we thought that maybe there is a way to do an interesting story as crazy and random as the toy itself. And we thought, we’ll pitch this crazy idea and if they don’t want to do it, then fine.”
Another challenge the filmmakers had to overcome was keeping the simplistic toy faces rather than adding animated features such as lips and eyes. Lord stated it was definitely something they had to convince people about. With Legos being simple shapes, there was no confidence at first on telling a whole movie with facial features this simplistic.
“The Lego video games have been a tremendous success with the limited animation style, which was helpful during the film’s production,” said McCay. “But the end result, the filmmakers wanted to create a story that had heart.”
To make the process of making the film work from the ground up, Lord stated the process was a creative machine: the editors would talk with the storyboard artists when creating the visual storyline. This created a better process where different parts of the production would be on the same page.
When asked if they thought it was a challenge to make a movie based off a popular toy, Miller mentioned that during production, they had sets of actors who had the opportunity to work together when doing voices.
“In animation, it’s the norm to have people do their voice acting separately of each other,” said Lord. “We found out it’s hard to get famous people together in the same place at the same time due to their schedules.” Lord also stated some of the actors who were able to work together in teams included Elizabeth Banks & Will Arnett and Will Ferrell & Liam Neeson.
Before the junket wrapped, each of the filmmakers were asked what their favorite LEGO sets were. Lord loves the new Back to the Future LEGO set. Miller hesitated for a few seconds, and then mentioned the Lunar Base Lego set. In the blink of an eye, McCay said Cat Woman.