Directors Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Chris McKay Talk THE LEGO MOVIE, Creative Freedom, How It’ll Be CG and Stop-Motion, New LEGO Sets, and More

     July 31, 2013


Without a doubt, one of my most anticipated movies of 2014 is The Lego Movie.  The reason?  Phil Lord and Chris Miller.  As the directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, Lord and Miller have shown they’re extremely talented filmmakers that also know comedy.  And based on the trailer for The Lego Movie, I’m confident they’ve knocked it out of the park.

Last week at Comic-Con, I landed an extended video interview with Lord, Miller, and Chris McKay (who is co-directing with them).  They talked about their take on the movie, how much creative freedom they have, collaborating with LEGO, what the film’s about, which IP characters they were able to get, the animation process for a hybrid of CG and stop-motion animated LEGO figures, new LEGO sets, the character names, and so much more.  If you’re also looking forward to The Lego Movie, I promise you’ll enjoy this interview.  Hit the jump to watch.

Finally, if you needed another reason to see The Lego Movie, the film features the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, and Charlie Day!

Here’s the time index of what we talked about followed by the video.

the-lego-movie-posterPhil Lord, Chris Miller, and Chris McKay Time Index:

  • :40 – Talk about how easily a LEGO movie could’ve been done wrong.
  • 1:43 – Their unique take on the movie.  They wanted to use LEGO as a medium to tell a fun, cool story.  They pitched it as, “if Michael Bay kidnapped Henry Selick and forced him to make a movie for him.”
  • 3:15 – Miller tells a great story about how his son has been trying to make something called Star Wars: Episode 100 with his LEGOs.
  • 4:32 – How much creative freedom do they have in working with LEGO?  They say they’re very meticulous, but they didn’t tell them what kind of story to do.
  • 6:33 – Did 21 Jump Street help or hurt them in the eyes of LEGO?  The company was a little apprehensive about them pushing the envelope too far, but they had proved themselves capable with handing kid-friendly fare on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
  • 8:10 – Tease the story for The LEGO Movie.  Chris Pratt plays a “kind of a ding dong construction worker” who gets mistaken for the creator of the universe.
  • 9:13 – Were they able to get all of the IP characters that they wanted?  They got way more than they expected and had fun mixing “people that don’t belong together.”
  • 10:01 – The length of the movie.  Their first test screening is 92 minutes long, but it has extra jokes.  Talk about being nervous for the screening and the difficulty of screening a movie that’s only half animated.
  • the-lego-movie-comic-con-poster12:02 – The animation process on the film.  There’s a hybrid of CG and stop-motion animated LEGO figures.  They don’t want the audience to be able to tell the difference, so on the CG shots they add fingerprints and dandruff on the LEGOs.
  • 13:03 – The biggest obstacle was asking the animators to make it not look like a regular animated movie, they wanted the character movements to look constrained and tightened, like someone as actually moving them.
  • 13:55 – New LEGO sets.  They talk about the prospect of creating scenes that will eventually become LEGO sets that will be available to buy.  Talk about designing the vehicles in tandem with the people at LEGO.
  • 16:12 – They say there will be some adult LEGO sets from the movie that will be available.
  • 16:34 – Talk about directing the movie from the US while the animation portion is in production in Australia.  Co-director/editor Chris McKay lives in Australia while Lord and Miller video chat with him every day.
  • 17:44 – Talk about the enthusiasm of all the collaborators/animators since everyone loves LEGO.
  • 19:22 – The universally positive response to the trailer.  They say they’ve never worked on a movie that people were actually excited for ahead of time.
  • 20:20 – The names of the characters.  They approached them from the philosophy of, “What if an 11-year-old was making this movie?”

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