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Bricks in Motion is a feature-length documentary that examines the lives of individuals all over the world unified by a singular hobby: creating stop motion animations with LEGO® (often referred to as “brickfilming”). Filmed in five different countries and interviewing as many as 30 people, it explores the creative philosophies, motivations, and struggles of these storytellers from all different walks of experience as they bring their visions to life, one frame at a time.
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Directed by Philip Heinrich
Produced by Philip Heinrich, Zach Macias, Doug Vandegrift, Jr., and Nathan Wells
Edited by Philip Heinrich
Directors of Photography: Philip Heinrich and Michael Macasa
Music composed by Philip Heinrich and Joseph Frank
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MAKING OF BRICKS IN MOTION
In 2014, my friend and then-administrator of BricksInMotion.com Philip Heinrich approached me and a handful of others about creating a documentary about the brickfilming hobby. After a period of careful planning and preparation, we officially launched the film’s Kickstarter campaign in September. In those 30 days, we successfully raised $12,800 (from our original $10,000 asking price) from 270 supporters, the additional funds allowing us to expand the scope of the documentary into covering European animators. Bricks in Motion was officially a go.
Production spanned from late 2014 to early 2015. During principal photography, I served as one of the film’s primary producers alongside Heinrich, Nathan Wells, and Doug Vandegrift, and was on set for both of the major stretches of shooting. I also served as the crew driver for a week of the California leg of filming, and traveled with the crew to Coronado, various parts of Los Angeles, and Lompoc (I wasn’t available for the Canadian trip).
In February 2015, Philip and I traveled to Europe (along with Shannon Birch) to conduct interviews in England, France, and Germany, where I gained additional filmmaking experience as the production sound mixer. That leg lasted 3 weeks and took us to London, Stoke-on-Trent, Paris, Molsheim, Stuttgart, Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, and Berlin. In total, we had shot over 60 hours of interview footage as well as additional B-roll. The task of sorting through and organizing that footage was left to Philip and our associate editor Seán Willis.
Production was not done yet, though! We knew from the start that we wanted to include LEGO stop motion segments within the film as a sort of narrative framing device, so once we wrapped on the interviews, the next task was to get those animated bits in the can.
The stop motion segments were produced by myself, Philip, and Nathan at his apartment in Northern California. The aim of the animated segments was to provide a framework to the interviews, to give them a proper sense of context and the film itself a narrative “through-line.” We wanted it to illustrate the ideas being presented by our interviewees without taking them too literally, to personify while also being impressionistic. The story-within-a-story follows a woman (whom we lovingly dubbed “Sophie” during production) as she escapes a banal but functional life in pursuit of reinvigorating her creativity, and the highs and lows that come with that.
Production on the animated segments took roughly 2 weeks to complete, though I was only available to shoot on the consecutive weekends. I predominantly worked on the scenes with Sophie at the park watching the children play, and some of the bits with her in the forest. Nathan was the lead in constructing most of the sets, and Phil once again took up directing duties as well as lighting and cinematography.
The entire production was an immensely rewarding and educational experience, this being my first feature-length film I’ve been a part of, much less as a credited producer. We were often forced to work within limited resources and time to produce the best possible results, as well as managing the logistics of long distance domestic and international travel with cast, crew, and equipment in tow. The film was eventually completed in late 2015, had an official online release in 2016, and in 2018 was picked up by Cinemation for distribution among the streaming services it can currently be viewed on. We are all immensely proud of the film, its cast, the dedicated crew members, and the hundreds of Kickstarter backers who made this project possible.
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO group of companies, which does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse this film.