Topic: The Brickfilm Feature: Unusual adventure brickfilms (July 21, 2017)
In 2015, Nathan Wells ran the Brickfilm of the Week feature, with myself and Sméagol joining in towards the second half. For a while now, I have been thinking about launching a successor to that feature, and when nswihart began talking about how he wanted to see a feature and would also be willing to write for one, it seemed like now would be a good time to start one up again. Welcome to the first installment of The Brickfilm Feature!
While Brickfilm of the Week featured one classic brickfilm each week, I plan for the format of this new feature to be less defined. My main focus for now will be on featuring a number of brickfilms under a common theme, no matter their age or fame. It may also include Brickfilm of the Week-style single film features if the film is substantial, or other formats entirely. There will also be multiple writers, and hopefully some once-off guest writers. If you enjoy seeing content like this, I would encourage you to try to leave responses to the threads, as visible response helps motivation to continue writing articles.
For this inaugural feature, I will be highlighting “Unusual adventure brickfilms”. With there still being more than enough time to begin an entry to the Spirit of Adventure Contest, I thought I would encourage out-of-the-box thinking in regards to the theme in the hopes of inspiring those who don't have enough time or LEGO to craft an adventure on a larger scale. A tightly made short with a strong concept can have just as much of a fighting chance as a mini-epic (as I myself have found out in previous contests).
I'll kick things off with a recent-ish one from 2014, by Al Nickels. When you think adventure brickfilm, your mind probably doesn't go to a protagonist standing in one spot and little animation beyond sets sliding in and out, but through the strength of its concept and progression, this film manages to convey an incredibly strong, ahem, spirit of adventure. The minimal movement even ties in with the voiceover to create the feeling of reading a children's picture book, while still using the medium of stop-motion in a clever way that serves the film well.
Twickabrick have seen success in contests around here for a good while now, and that began with The Final Quest, the top winner of the first Festival of Souls contest in 2010. A single line of narration serves to drop us straight into what could have been a climactic scene of a longer film, but one that completely works as a standalone. It can be best to not show everything that has taken place in the lead-up, allowing for more time and effort to create an outstanding shorter film.
This is a film that is all about the execution. The unusual decision to build the cave with red bricks rather than grey gives the setting a unique, spooky vibe (and when I first saw this film, I thought there was a lighting trick at play, rather than the cave actually being made of red bricks). The film builds up to a chase sequence with tension heightened through the use of music and tight camera angles, making it one of the few I have seen that can compare to The Gauntlet. It basically goes without saying for Twick nowadays, but the animation is also incredible. This is a good example of a film incorporating adventure along with elements from another genre, too.
Security Nights is a brickfilm from 2004 by Richard Chavez, also known as Count Orlock, cHAVEZ, or Chavenese Productions. It was an entry into the High Adventure Theatre Contest, which is my personal favourite of the main summer contests. In a contest filled with so many classics, this is one of a number of great entries that landed outside of the top 10.
This film has a rare quality to it that I love. It feels like it was made by somebody who never watched a brickfilm before and just threw everything at the wall to see what would stick. It features an unorthodox combination of stop-motion, live action, sprite animation and computer-drawn elements, and through dream sequences it can include any fun scenario the director wants to throw in. I like the incorporation of live action and I also use it in my own brickfilms, as I feel in moderation it brings a certain comedic element that you wouldn't get with stop-motion (and let's be honest; it saves some time, too).
This was Chavez's second brickfilm, following a short titled Crash and Die that is featured within this film on the TV screen. He was working on an elaborate revised version of Security Nights, but lost his progress in 2005 due to computer troubles.
I also want to give a quick mention to No Title 17 (2010) by A. I was on the fence about including this in a feature tied in with a stop-motion contest as it is not technically stop-motion, but it is a very unusual adventure film by one of my favourite brickfilmers, so I feel I should give it a mention. I will probably give A.'s work a proper feature in the future.
Thanks to nswihart and WillowTree for helping with this feature. I hope I have helped to inspire thinking about more possibilities for the Spirit of Adventure theme, especially for people who may not have started an entry yet. The deadline is September 10, meaning there is still over a month and a half remaining. If you have any favourite adventure brickfilms or would like to mention others that are atypical for the genre, please post them in the replies to this thread.