“We’d build spaceships and all kinds of crazy things, but it wasn’t just the building, it was the infinite possibilities of things to make and express that was so irresistible and exciting,” says Miller.
As filmmakers, their interest took a different focus. “Chris and I were inspired by the ingenuity and humor that comes out of the international LEGO community,” says Lord, referring to such outlets as LEGO Cuusoo, the LEGO Group’s fan submission site for potential new products, “ReBrick” forums where people can share their creations, and the growing number of unique short films, using LEGO bricks and minifigures, that are produced and shared online by individuals from every corner of the world.
Such is the fascination of the LEGO brand, an endlessly evolving and hugely popular construction toy that has cultivated creativity across generations and cultures since its inception. Committed to upholding that principle, Lord and Miller knew from the start that this could be no standard animation but a virtual build, a feature-length motion picture made entirely of LEGO bricks and elements.
“We both thought,” Lord continues, “‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to make a big, fun, action-packed LEGO adventure that captures the feeling of being a kid putting these pieces together, but on a truly epic scale?’ And what if it could retain that handmade quality these little films have that’s so engaging. Because part of the appeal of LEGO bricks is how accessible they are as an art form, we wanted to make a film that felt like something anyone could do in their own basement…provided they had a gigantic basement and a few million bricks!”
Actually, closer to 15 million, if you count each brick, character, set piece, and prop needed, as the filmmakers ultimately realized their vision for the film.
Indeed, “There are two different ways people play with LEGO bricks,” Miller relates. “One is to follow the instructions on the kit and put together this awesome thing, whatever it is, which you then set on your shelf and never use so it doesn’t break, and the other is to take a pile of random pieces and make something from your own imagination, then take it apart and make something else. ‘The LEGO Movie’ uses these two different approaches as the basis for its story, which is really about innovation and creativity and the importance of change.”
Producer Roy Lee calls the directors “two of the most creative people I know. They did an amazing job on ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,’ which was a fairly thin book, and they came in and reinvented some of the characters and really expanded it from what was on the page. With the LEGO concept, we had a blank canvas and they were the perfect guys to come in and invent a whole new world to explore.”
True fans and true originals, they brought equal parts reverence and irreverence to “The LEGO Movie.”
States Miller, “What we always try to do with our movies is create something that would make us laugh, and make our friends laugh. We don’t ever want to do something that talks down to kids.”
“Obviously, kids and their parents will get it,” Lord says, “but we wanted to bridge the generations and keep in mind that there’s a community of adult LEGO fans who make the most complex and incredible creations a kid might not even think of. My favorite films are the ones I can take my granny to, or my parents and my girlfriend, or my nieces and nephews, and know we will enjoy it together. That’s the most fun you can have at a movie theater—when people of all ages are laughing together.”
Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, Feb. 6, “The LEGO Movie” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.