Topic: The Brickfilm Feature: Back 2 Skool (September 19, 2017)
For this feature, I was trying to think of a theme when I remembered that school would have recently started for a lot of people. This got me thinking that school is actually kind of an uncommon setting for brickfilms (when not including the more YouTube-view-centric and imaginatively titled stuff). I thought this was surprising considering most brickfilms are made by people who are still in school, but also that perhaps it makes sense that school is the last thing they would want to be thinking about. With this is mind, I have chosen a selection of brickfilms centered around school:
Back to School Nightmare by MindGame (2006)
This is the only film on the list that isn't actually set in a school but rather just before being back in school, fittingly enough for the first entry. Back to School Nightmare is the third film in the long-running Ben and Andy series, and was the first to feature Ben's house (and unusually deep couch). If I'm being honest, it is a bit quaint compared to what MindGame would later go on to do, but considering it was made for a Twenty-four Hour Animation Contest, it is impressive how it doesn't really have the "feel" of a THAC film and manages to tell a complete story. The only major giveaway that it was made for THAC is the mod element plastered everywhere, as it was commonplace at the time to make it extremely obvious, for fear of disqualification.
The film is about Ben realising at the last minute that he needs to go out and buy all of his supplies before school starts again, cleverly incorporating the contest theme "The End". One interesting shot to look out for is when the camera pulls back and the queue of people appear in front of it. I used the same sort of effect here, possibly subconsciously influenced by Ben and Andy (it wouldn't be the first time). Back to School Nightmare placed second in THAC 2, behind the now-obscure Negotiations.
Back 2 Skool by KG/SpastikChuwawa (2006)
A fitting follow-up to Back to School Nightmare is Back 2 Skool by KG aka SpastikChuwawa, which actually was released on this day in 2006. This is a quintessential KG film, short in length and packing in plenty of wacky humour. Without a doubt, the standout component here is the hilarious voice acting for Mr. Hanson, which won the film a Best Voice Acting award. I also think that character's combination of minifig parts just looks funny on its own, which isn't easy to achieve. Not too much more to say about this one; whether you've already seen it or not, it's worth a minute and a half of your time.
His Mind's Account by unfoldingmetal (2005)
The previous picks are perhaps too obvious for some, so now here is a film that I believe needs to be rescued from total obscurity. Only one scene of this film takes place in a classroom, but it still counts. His Mind's Account is an abstract brickfilm that incorporates multiple types of animation. I won't try to explain it, as all I can really say for certain is that it definitely held my attention for more than one viewing. It features some nice moody lighting, and a stand-out digital effect that is blended in well (...if that makes sense). I find it impressive that the director made this at age 14, as it is more thought provoking than what most would think to make at that age. This also continues the themes of teachers who fail to write on the board and someone jumping out a window. Perhaps it was an influence on Back 2 Skool?
The Quiz by twickabrick (2015)
I suppose I ought now to include something that isn't over 10 years old, even if this film does kind of look like a time warp. The Quiz is a film that takes place in a classroom during a test, meaning this is very little dialogue. This leaves space for thoughtful sound design that creates an immersive environment. Adding to the realism is the truly gorgeous and subtle animation. I still don't know how they managed to make some of this stuff so fluid at such a small scale, such as the erasing. Such a realistic environment really helps to sell the jarring effect of how fantastical the elements seen out the window are. The Quiz placed first in BRAWL 2015.
Don't Bug Me by protowrxs (2005)
Of the films in this feature, Don't Bug Me is the one that makes the most use of the school setting, featuring multiple classes and teacher characters. The film, directed by protowrxs and co-written by dewfilms, follows a teacher who decides to make use of all the math knowledge in his head by becoming a superhero who makes use of careful calculations to thwart crime. What I want to highlight about this film is how it switches between multiple different storylines going on at the same time. While having A and B plots can be commonly seen in film and TV, brickfilms usually stick to following the story from one perspective. It can be hard to fit in anything more in a short amount of time, and even at 10 minutes long Don't Bug Me does seem to go by fast as it needs to fit a lot in. It is apparent that the script was cut down to fit within 10 minutes but it still makes sense, and it's a funny film. It won third place in the Heroes and Villains Contest, behind two all-time classics, Frankenstein and Special Deliverance.
The Brick-a-Brack Bunch in... The Bunch 'Whigs' Out by mobdeli (2014)
This is one of a number of films in The Brick-a-Brack Bunch series, created by mobdeli for The LEGO Group. Many of them are set in a school, but I decided to pick this one because it is not set in a classroom or hallway, instead taking place during a school play. mobdeli's films usually boast expansive sets, and this one also has nice designs in elements such as the stage curtain and the mechanical water waves. However, I think the most amazing thing about this film and the series it is from is that despite being LEGO commissioned, they actually include detailed credits!
Can you name any other brickfilms with a school setting, preferably not named "LEGO School"? I was surprised that I couldn't recall all that much more than this.