Topic: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

Welcome to Brickfilm of the Week! This is a new weekly feature on Bricks in Motion. Every Friday, a brickfilm will be selected as Brickfilm of the Week to be featured on the main page of Bricks in Motion. The purpose of Brickfilm of the Week is to celebrate important, fun, influential, creative and noteworthy brickfilms and to draw attention to brickfilms that might have been forgotten over the years.

When a brickfilm is selected, it will be featured on the main page of Bricks in Motion, accompanied by a short explanation/review by a BiM staff member, and a link to a discussion thread where Bricks In Motion members can discuss the film. These weekly discussion threads will be posted to a new forum called News, in the Community (green) section. Only Bricks in Motion staff members will be able to post new threads, but anyone can contribute to the discussion in the individual threads!

Since it’s THAC (Twenty-four Hour Animation Contest) season, this week’s Brickfilm of the Week is His Master’s Plan, by Stefan van Zwam, the winner of the very first Twenty-four Animation Contest in 2005.

His Master’s Plan follows the story of a servant, following the orders of his master, who breaks into a house to steal something valuable. Like all THAC films, it was made in under 24 hours. Stefan van Zwam, a Dutch brickfilmer, was a staple member of the Brickfilms.com community and was active from 2001 to 2007, producing brickfilms such as Animation Class: Lesson 1, Daedalus and Icarus, and his Great Inventors pair of films. His Master’s Plan was one of Stefan van Zwam’s last brickfilms.

Watch His Master’s Plan on YouTube

http://i.imgur.com/TK8QnhD.png

SPOILERY DISCUSSION BELOW!

Until a few months ago, I had nearly completely forgotten about His Master's Plan. When Sillypenta dug it up for the Brickfilms Archival Project, I was delighted to rediscover it. It's not as flashy as it's modern THAC compatriots, but therein lies its charm. His Master's Plan tells a complete, simple story with a funny punchline, supported by Looney Tune-esque animation and humor.

The underground tunneling and running into the pole (complete with seeing stars) are creatively done with sticky-tack and LEGO flowers (see 0:14) , and some of my favorite animation in a brickfilm is the tiptoeing past the dog (see 0:45). There is a lot of expression and character packed into a deceptively simple animation sequence. And how often do you see convincingly animated minifigure tiptoeing? His Master's Plan also integrates the mod element (only the letter N, there were no color mod elements for the first few THACs) into the set in interesting and creative ways while still managing to keep the mod element from distracting from the overall film.

What are your thoughts on His Master's Plan? What did you like about it? Did you have a favorite moment? How do you think His Master's Plan compares to THAC films of today?

Last edited by Nathan Wells (January 2, 2015 (10:52am))

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

I love this idea! Anyways, I just watched His Masters Plan today for the first time, and I must say, this is well done. The side shot of the man digging into the house was my favorite shot in particular. Though I didn't really laugh at the punchline, I thought the film as a whole was very entertaining.

Can't wait for future weekly brickfilms!

Last edited by GHB (January 2, 2015 (09:54am))

I'm back.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

"They are the recipe to my mother's tomato soup."

When I logged onto BiM today, I was pleasantly surprised by this new thread. I don't think His Master Plan could be a more perfect film to start off the Brickfilms of the Week. Everything about this brickfilm classic is terrific and watching it so close to the arrival of THAC gets me even more in the spirit.

Right from the start of the film, the incorporation of the letter mod on the street was brilliant. The digging animation, from both above ground and underground looking at the main character, adds a unique touch to the movie. As mentioned in the introductory post, the LEGO flower petal and tip-toe animation were top-notch. Another aspect in this short that really emphasized the animation was the shadow on the wall at 0:40. All the animation in this film reminded me how charming the art of stop motion is.

Another element to this short film that made it very enjoyable was the narration. It fit the mood of the film so well and I was laughing the whole way through, especially at the dialogue at the end. 

Overall, I think His Master Plan could definitely compare to THAC films today. Sure, it might not be able to compete with the picture quality or visual effects of today, but the ingenious animation more than makes up for that.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

This is a really cool idea. What a delightful film. The use of the mod element was so good, I completely forgot that the mod element was a thing until reading the second half of Nathan's post after watching the film. The animation is clever and charming, and I certainly feel more inspired for what is to come tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to being introduced to many other old brickfims I've missed.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

Thank you Nathan for starting this! mini/smile

There are so many things that are wonderful about this film.
First off, the mod element is very cleverly placed throughout. Right from the get-go, the mod element does not distract and blends into the surroundings quite well. The use of 'clay' to create the illusion of digging is quite clever. This effect greatly reminds me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon shorts of yesteryear. The zany 'BONK' effect works perfectly. The tunnel digging effect is what stands out the most for me. Digging is something that is quite difficult to pull off to make it look natural…the 'tunnel vision cut out' is more than effective here. I also love the 'dog effect' in this film. The dog may seem like just a pile of bricks, but it's so simple and wonderfully executed here.

All these things crammed into one short film…AND in 24 hours?
This film is an event itself that is not to be missed.

"Tell stories that matter to you, not stories that'll sell." - Stephen Tobolowsky

YouTube/Twitter/SG

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

I really like this idea.  Will there be only older films or will there ever be any films from more recent years?  I feel like both would be good.  Perhaps maybe some lesser known modern films that aren't usually posted on BiM.

I thought the tunnel digging was a clever idea, although the joke at the end fell rather flat for me.  It's seems mostly like just a decent run-of-the-mill old THAC film to me.

-Squid, Head of ANP |  I am the Night

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

Squid wrote:

I really like this idea.  Will there be only older films or will there ever be any films from more recent years?  I feel like both would be good.  Perhaps maybe some lesser known modern films that aren't usually posted on BiM.

My hope is to feature a mixture of older and more recent films, but to lean towards brickfilms that may have been forgotten or overlooked. People generally don't need to be reminded of brickfilms released within the last few years. Of course, exceptions will probably be made. There aren't many set rules, just some mental guidelines I have established for myself. Ultimately the goals is just to bring more exposure to a wider variety of brickfilms and to generate new discussion.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

This is a fantastic idea. There are so many older brickfilms that predate BiM that need more love, and this is a great way to share them. I'm sure you don't (what with being our Resident Archivist an' all) but if you need any suggestions for future Brickfilms of the Week, I'd be happy to make some suggestions.

http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/ZoefDeHaas/stuff/sig1.png
"Nothing goes down 'less I'm involved. No nuggets. No onion rings. No nothin'. A cheeseburger gets sold in the park, I want in! You got fat while we starved on the streets...now it's my turn!" -Harley Morenstein

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

Thanks for sharing, Nathan. I've always wondered about trying to find some entries into THAC 1, other than Mindgame's, which is already fairly well-known.

Have you seen a big-chinned boy?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

Mickey wrote:

Thanks for sharing, Nathan. I've always wondered about trying to find some entries into THAC 1, other than Mindgame's, which is already fairly well-known.

Incase you were wondering, here's some info on the very first THAC.

"Tell stories that matter to you, not stories that'll sell." - Stephen Tobolowsky

YouTube/Twitter/SG

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

This is a charming little film - definitely a forerunner of other creative and quirky brickfilms that have become a norm for others.

The animation, though not perfect, doesn't have any major flaws, and, really helps to keep a director's mind, like mine, distracted from the little things. The story really is the main focus, and, seems to be the one thing that stood out the most on first viewing. I can't pinpoint why this is, but, a lot of pre-2010 brickfilms (Nathan Well's Beast, Vandy's Pirates, and Smeagol's Unrenewable, just to name a few) had this element going for them - the story was really the only thing that you notice at first glance, and, that's what filmmaking, and storytelling, is all about! - sharing stories.

On the technical aspects, specifically the "digging" effect done by clay; it's ambitious. Though I knew exactly how the effect was done, and how I could recreate it, the fact that I have never tried it shows the creative mind of Stefan van Zwam. He, obviously, thought differently then other brickfilmers, and did an effect that is really effective, and gives the film just the right amount of charm, without being too campy. It really astonished me, since, it truly would be so simple a thing to do, yet, has rarely been repeated, if ever done again!

Overall, I really liked "His Master's Plan." I'd like to think that, if this had been done for THAC XII, it would have placed highly, regardless of it's lighting flicker and slightly clunky animation. This film's got heart, a soul - something a lot of other brickfilms, specifically contest-specific ones, lack.

I'd even go as far to say that "His Master's Plan" is in the top 100 greatest brickfilms ever made.

http://i.imgur.com/3yyBJQq.png
Let's return to the Burtonverse, shall we?  Score Preview

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: His Master's Plan (Jan 2, 2015)

Dyland wrote:

I can't pinpoint why this is, but, a lot of pre-2010 brickfilms (Nathan Well's Beast, Vandy's Pirates, and Smeagol's Unrenewable, just to name a few) had this element going for them - the story was really the only thing that you notice at first glance, and, that's what filmmaking, and storytelling, is all about! - sharing stories.

I find it amusing how the "golden age" of brickfilming extends with time. Wasn't too long ago that films predating 2008 were the apparent golden years, or 2006, and so forth. A lot of pre-2010 brickfilms had the "story" going for them because they are the only brickfilms you remember. Overall they are good brickfilms. Nothing has changed.

Anyway, I hadn't seen this film before but I was delighted to see some innovative animation techniques. I've never taken a crack at THAC myself so I can only watch this film (and many other THAC entries) in awe. There were a good deal of interesting sets, several of which must have been specifically built during THAC what with the mod element. Like others I didn't find the punchline all that rewarding but the animation throughout was engaging enough for me.

Looking forward to seeing more brickfilms on this feature!