Phil Lord and Christopher Miller TheLEGOMovie
Key moment of inspiration (Miller): I was helping my nephew, Finn, make his pinewood derby car, which he wanted to be a helicopter-rocket-swirly-peacock car covered with feathers, pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks. I had to bite my tongue about aerodynamics, center of gravity and drag while I helped him hot-glue pom-poms all over it. Ultimately, the car he made was not very fast, but he was so proud of it, and rightly so, because it was beautiful, unique, and all him. It launched a discussion between Phil and I about creativity and engineering, function and self-expression, which was the real
inspiration for many of the themes of the movie. Toughest challenge in making the movie: Figuring out how to make a photoreal stop-motion look, with fingerprints, scratches and dandruff, and creating brickbuilt motion blur-like effects, was extremely challenging. But getting the story to work on an emotional level was probably the hardest challenge of all. Pivotal scene: The scene inside Emmet’s brain when he goes from being a passive follower to wanting to become a creative leader. We also get our first glimpse of his repressed creative side with his odd idea for a double-decker couch, which ends up becoming an important runner in the movie.
Best advice: On the state of the animation business: It’s an exciting time. There’s a real diversity of styles, and the marketplace is slowly starting to accept the idea that animation is a medium to tell different stories, not a genre in and of itself. Favorite movie or animated character of all time: Gromit. He’s a hilarious character with so much personality, all without saying a word. It’s a testament to Nick Park and all the animators who, with a subtle eyebrow raise or finger tap or eye roll, express so much with so little. Career beginnings: We started off developing Saturday morning cartoons for Disney TV Animation, and came up with dozens of different shows that never made it to the air. One was about brother-sister conjoined twins who inherited a toy manufacturing company. We wonder why it never made it to air. Best advice: Enable your crew to contribute creatively and you’ll get better ideas, and more of them, than you could have come up with on your own. If you give people agency to add their own passion into it, you get a richer, fuller, more special product. Key moment of inspiration: The key moment of inspiration happened while sitting in front of the TV as a 10-year-old boy. I fell in love with Mr. Peabody & Sherman. From there it was all uphill. Toughest challenge in making the movie: Our toughest challenge was convincing someone to make the movie. Chris Kuser at DreamWorks was first to champion the project. And Jeffrey Katzenberg made it happen. Pivotal scene: The pivotal scene for me was when Mr. Peabody puts Sherman to bed. It proved that there was a depth and dimension to these characters and that they could express real emotion. On the state of the animation business: The animation business has never been more exciting, with so many high-quality films being made and so much production all over the world — the audience expanding in Europe and China. But it feels like it’s just getting started. The next decade should bring incredible innovation and experimentation. Favorite movie or animated character of all time: My favorite animated film of all time is the classic Chuck Jones short,
Incredible wit and satire in just under seven minutes. A perfect film. Career beginnings: I got started at Disney in the early ’80s, just before Roy Disney Jr., Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg took over and supercharged production. It felt like the end of an era with Eric Larson still mentoring animators and Frank and Olly coming by to visit with an occasional Marc Davis or Ward Kimball sighting. We all longed for the golden age to return but assumed it never could. Then it did.
The world of animated film production is exciting, frustrating, exhausting, inspiring. Never lose heart or hope.
setting for ourselves as an animation community. We’re taking on tough subject matter and telling emotionally sophisticated stories. Favorite movie or animated character of all time: Bugs Bunny and Totoro. Career beginnings: I used to make stop-motion movies as a kid. They were brutally violent. Then my animation career went on hold for about 15 years, until my mom encouraged me to attend Sheridan College in Ontario. I got an internship at the Florida Disney studio, and then I was off to California to work in the story department on Mulan. I’ve been at Disney Feature Animation ever since. Best advice: I suppose to anyone entering the animation industry I’d say prepare to work very hard. The studios are at a very high level and demand great work, as well as sacrifice. Learn to draw better. Keep drawing. Carry a sketchbook and draw all the time. It forces you to really see the world. And try to foster an environment were people feel comfortable disagreeing with you.