A LEGO Brickumentary is a licensed documentary that tells the origins of the brand and sheds light on all the incredible ways that LEGO blocks are being used around the world today. Narrated by Jason Bateman, the film introduces us to the lead designers and master builders of the company and most importantly, the global community of LEGO fans led by the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO). We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the film's directing partners to talk about all things LEGO.
Your film is about the basic building blocks of what it means to be human.
Daniel: Couldn't have said it better myself. Yeah, well put.
If someone told me that before I watched your film, I would have questions. But now that I've seen your film, I'm just in awe. I want to know how you guys partnered up and how did this idea sprout?
Daniel: We weren't necessarily looking for this film. The executive producer Jim Packer said there's this convention in Chicago (Brick World), you should do a movie on it and we thought no, that's kind of limited but what if we do something on the whole community? That expanded to the idea of why don't we approach LEGO, try to get them on board and do the consummate LEGO film? So producer Brendan Kiernan and I went to LEGO. In fact, they had been approached by many teams and I don't know, I think we had the right approach. They said yes and we were off and running. Kief and I have known each other for a long time and I needed a partner on this film so we collaborated on making this film together.
Kief: Yeah, Daniel and I had a number of films on the film festival circuit together so that's part of how we got to know each other.
Daniel: It's a small world, the documentary ghetto.
Did either of you grow up playing with LEGO?
Kief: I re-discovered LEGO more as an adult. There wasn't a whole lot of LEGO's in my house so I can't exactly say I was a massive LEGO fan but I was re-awakened to it through my son's eyes and how much my son loves LEGO and how much it has helped him explore his own creative identity and it encouraged me to build. It's been a way for the two of us to bond as a father and son.
Daniel: I was totally a LEGO kid. Huge LEGO fan, spent many hours on the carpet sprawled out with a box of LEGO’s.
One of the things that really astounded me was the global nature of the brand. I had no idea and that allowed the film to travel all over the world. How did that work? Did you have to split up the travel arrangements?
Kief: Yeah. When we first started talking about working together, part of my excitement to work on the film was the fact that I could just shoot in the United States and be local. Next thing I know I'm going to Denmark, China and Germany. I'm like, “Wow, this isn't what I thought I signed up for.” Yeah, there was a good amount of international shooting, just too much to cover for the two of us. So we had remote crews for smaller scenes and moments.
Daniel: There are things in the film from Brazil, Taiwan and Holland that we had to hire trusted filmmakers to shoot for us.
Daniel: I think I was most surprised by some of the serious applications of this so-called toy. They use it in therapy and engineering, urban planning and even space exploration but I think the most incredible moments really came at the conventions where you see some amazing builds. We couldn't fit all of them in the film but the creativity was just unparalleled.
Kief: Even the little things. This may sound kind of silly but they had little competitions like the blind build or build in a bag. That's really hard to do. Then there was one that didn't make it into the film. The sort of more censored one, the drunk build. There's so much great talent there and for sure, I like seeing the X-Wing come to New York. It was remarkable, an engineering feat in itself.
There was a magical quality that was present during the convention scenes that I think is missing from my Comic-Con experiences.
Kief: I heard this just on the plane ride over to Comic-Con this year, the guy right behind me was talking to a woman. He was talking about how this is what he looks forward to all year round, that he spends his whole year thinking about what costume he's going to wear and prepping for it. Same with the conventions, it's not uncommon to see these massive builds they're spending the entire year doing and not just by themselves. Some of the adult fans of LEGO are working with other AFOLs in other states. One person’s building one section while another person builds another and they come together for this collaborative community effort.
Daniel: There is a lot of creativity at Comic-Con but at the end of the day there is a lot of consumerism, there are a lot of different brands there. At LEGO conventions, yes you have the brand there but it's all based on people's individual creativity which is pretty cool. Everyone who is showing has built something that has come out through their brain, to their hands and is sitting on the table.
I totally agree. There also has to be something to that singular focus. It's all about that one thing and everyone's love for it. As opposed to Comic-Con that has become over saturated with a lot of different stuff. It's not just about comics, anymore. Which I wish it was.
Kief: There are comics there?
Exactly. So many great things are already being done with LEGO, where can they go from here?
Daniel: Well, it's as limitless as people's imaginations. In some ways, it's up to the users to determine where LEGO is going to go but I think LEGO is surprisingly introspective and a forward thinking company and you can see that they have become more of a design and IP company and less about just manufacturing bricks. So I think they are looking to the future in that regard. Especially, when there's going to come a day where people will be able to print their own bricks and then what happens? I think LEGO will still exist because they have this proprietary system that has stood the test of time.
Kief: Yeah, I don't see this system dying anytime soon either. Who knows what they're going to do but there are these bricks that were made in the 1950's and you can integrate those with bricks made today. The more our society gets entrenched in online time, online addiction actually, you kind of need things like LEGO to take you away from it.
A LEGO Brickumentary will be released in theaters and VOD on July 31, 2015.