Topic: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

Welcome to the Weekly Bricks in Motion Filmmaking & Brickfilming Discussion thread!
These threads are designed to inspire discussion, debate and discourse on the topics of filmmaking, brickfilming, storytelling and LEGO. Each week I will start a new thread with a new discussion topic. Everyone is welcome to contribute as long as you have something thoughtful to say. Paragraphs are encouraged! If you are going to participate in this thread, please keep the discussion civil and refrain from pointless jokes, image macros, or “memes.”

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Feel free to continue to contribute to the previous discussion threads as well. Just because they are older doesn't mean they aren't relevant any more!

Previous Discussions:
Week 1: Why LEGO?
Week 2: Dealing with the Mockers
Week 3: Brickfilms with Licensed Themes
Week 4: Challenges Unique to Brickfilmers
Week 5: For Mature Audiences Only
Week 6: Please Like, Comment and Subscribe
Week 7: Areas of Improvement

This week’s discussion topic:

Besides brickfilms and LEGO, what influences and inspires your creativity?

We all have our favorite brickfilm or LEGO set or minifigure, and these all probably influence and shape our brickfilming projects. But beyond these immediate influences, what else inspires you? Do other types of films (live-action, foreign, Hollywood, indie) inspire you? Do you draw inspiration from anime or manga or graphic novels or comics? What about television, music, architecture, art, sculpture, food, literature or games?

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

My main brickfilming influences are a variety of things.

A lot of the time, it does come from getting a new set or minifigure. For instance, with the collectible minifigure series, I set myself a challenge to write a script or at the very least come up with a story for each one I bought. I now have a load of scripts waiting to go, though I've only animated a couple of them (La Conquista, Bad Flip, and my Zero-G entry).

I would say that I draw influence in some way from almost everything I see or read. I literally only have to see a picture on DeviantArt, completely out of context, and I might have an idea for a brickfilm. When I see something, I normally then really want to replicate it myself. I enjoy that process a lot.

Most of the time though, my brickfilming ideas are run-off from my main writing project. So I'll visit somewhere and see some really cool landmark, and then I'll have a few ideas. The one I end up using for my novel series tends to be watered down from my original idea, but is arguably more important and more useful. Then, if I still want to use the original, wackier idea, that goes into the brickfilm ideas folder. I tend to make my brickfilms a little less coherent and wackier than my actual writing, as it's quite theraputic to be able to have a creative outlet where I'm not bound by many rules, and can rely to an extent on it being a visual medium.

As for specific influences, I'd say the following. This is all beyond vague influences like 'books and movies', as I figure a lot of people will say that and it's kind of a given, since I consume vast quantities of both.

  • My DeviantArt favourites

  • My Flickr favourites

  • I think my weirder sense of humour actually comes from watching stuff like Scott Pilgrim and Parks and Recreation, which both have a really bizarre humour to them that I find hilarious.
    Myths and legends go without saying. There are some amazing stories out there, but people tend not to look beyond Greek and Norse these days (which I think is a shame). Myths also give me a lot of inspiration for creature designs, and I love playing around with the dynamics between different gods and mortals. I have a pretty detailed knowledge of several world mythologies (and have just finished an A level in Classical Civilisations) but I'd say that Japanese/Shinto, and Oceanic myth have been the biggest influences of all. Unfortunately, this is mainly in scripts that I haven't go around to animating, though I did do a short based on Mayan myth recently.

  • This website ( has some hilarious simplifications of myths that sometimes provide me with inspiration.

  • Comics have quite a big visual impact on me, as they sometimes suggest some quite interesting ideas for camera angles or set/character design. Specifically, I'd say Marvel's Fear Itself miniseries had a huge impact on me visually, especially the early chapters with The Serpent's lair and its depiction of Asgard.

  • Speaking of comics, Jackie Chan Adventures has probably been the biggest influence of all on me. I have every single issue bar the Christmas special, and have seen every episode of the TV series (though not for some time - I ought to get it on DVD). It has this great blend of other mythologies while building up a detailed and distinctive one of its own, and if you were to read my novel (which kinda' won't happen. Sorry, playing it close to the chest while I'm still redrafting and sending to agents) you'd see that I've tried to do the same.

Places I've been are also huge influences.
"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 it's my turn!" -Harley Morenstein

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

I have a very specific idea, a standard, that I try to have my films capture. It spawned from an old VHS (even old at the time I had VHS tapes... back in the late 90's), some Universal movie, that had an ad at the beginning. The ad featured several Universal Studios films from the past century, including Jurassic Park and Back to the Future - both films I had yet to see. I'm not sure on the other films that were featured, however, I do remember that all of them also had a counterpart-ride at the theme park.

Long story, short, I remember watching the commercial and trying to find similarities between the films, and some other big films to come out soon. (At this point, Spider-Man, and Tomb Raider) I noticed that, aside from most of these films featuring a heavy amount of action, they all seemed to have a more... not degraded, but rather, "orange-ish" tone to them. Something that made the likes of the Matrix and the Fast and the Furious look duller and "bluer."

Years later I discovered that the reason for this was mainly due to color correction/film vs digital, (i.e. compare the colors in Saving Private Ryan to The Wizard of Oz) however, before that discovery, I'd always thought that this "orange-y" color was some sort of "magic" that the film possessed. Just think, all Disney classics had bright colors, Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark were shot on film, and movie posters were under constant exposure to light-bulbs! (not the new, florescent kind... no, the old "yellowed" ones) All appeared to not only have "brighter" colors, but also seemed to look like an illuminated bathroom when you're taking a soak in the tub. - Magic.

When I started to get into LEGO, around 2001 or 2002, I noticed that these plastic figures, compared to MEGA-Blocks or other similar brands, had that same sort of "orange-y" magic that my favorite films had. I was inspired before I even truly understood what inspiration was.

I'm guessing that you can assume where this is going next: The infamous LEGO color change. When this came about, and the old plastic's yellowed look was changed for a bluer look, I was horrified. Was LEGO Batman, Indiana Jones, and Agents not as magical as classic Star Wars, Johnny Thunder, and Alpha Team? I sure thought so until I started to believe less in a "magic" around me, and more of a magic within me - ergo when I knew that I was going to be a film director for the rest of my life.

So, I'd say that my biggest inspiration has, and always will be, that "orange-y" feel that my favorite films had. Only recently, with Sony Vegas, have I been able to easily color-correct the frames of my brickfilms. And with that, I'll admit, I've gone a little overboard sometimes with adding too much of a yellowing to the frames, but, I just really strive for that feel; the feel that I associate with nostalgia, my childhood, and some dang good movies! mini/smile

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

I think as far as inspirations for brickfilming goes I mainly pull from movies I watch. Just like everyone I have my phases. The first two movies I can remember obsessing about are Iron Giant and Toy Story. There was just something about those movies I found attractive and still do to this day I really enjoy watching them.

In middle school I really liked Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, the Matrix, and Terminator 2. I guess this was my action movies phase. I enjoyed the immerse words created in these movies. In the case of Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park I was blown away by the effects and how well they had aged over the years. Being 5 when the Matrix came out I obviously didn't see it when it came out and by the time I watched it the effects had been parodied to death but I was still really enjoyed the movie as a whole.

In high school I was introduced to two of my favorite movies, the Godfather Part II and the Shawshank Redemption. This is when I began to take slower paced films more seriously. The story arc of the Godfather series (minus the third one) the Shawshank Redemption were really inspiring to me and I have always wished I could write a film as well as those screenplays.

In college, which I am currently in, I started watching movies differently. When I watch a movie I consciously look for style things I liked and would want to implement in future brickfilms. This can be anything from story arcs to editing techniques. I notice in hindsight that I also preferred dark movies. My favorites from this phase are the Silence of the Lambs, Goodfellas, Requiem for a Dream, a Clockwork Orange, and American Psycho. I'm sure I'm forgetting some in all these lists but this what I can remember off the top of my head.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

For me personally, as with many others, I suspect, there are many different things.

Movies and TV shows, for one.  I've always loved movies, and there have been a lot of amazingly good TV shows lately.  Sometimes I take inspiration from specific parts of a TV show.  Often, if I find that there is a specific thing about a film/TV show I love, I take that particular concept and store it in a sort of "mental notebook" in which I keep ideas--if I see something I like, I remember it and may use it as inspiration for a specific brickfilm I happen to be developing.  For instance, ever since watching Nikita I have been determined to come up with more brickfilms which have a female protagonist, or several female main characters.  Or take Breaking Bad; often, the cinematography is beautiful and has given me many ideas for different shots and has forced me to think more carefully about camera angles and movements (rather than just plunking down the camera and snapping away). Sometimes films inspire me more directly: for instance, the film Wild Target inspired my current project.  And some literature as well, such as Death Note.  Music too--just listening to certain songs and tracks helps me feel inspired (it's also useful for when I'm actually animating).  Something like this makes me want to get out there and create something amazing.

In a way, this makes me feel like a thief, as I just take the bits I like from stuff I watch, and re-assemble them into my own projects.  Then again, I've heard that the most creative people often take inspiration from other works and re-work it into their own unique vision.

However, I find that--counter-intuitive though it may seem--"negative inspirations" can be equally important.  I once watched the film Seven Psychopaths because I thought it sounded funny and would be a type of film I'd really enjoy.  However; I didn't like it--though I loved the basic premise/concept, I found the actual film dull and unfunny and I didn't ever finish it.  I suppose something inside me said "I can do better than this", so I took inspiration from the basic premise, which I liked, and decided to write a script for a brickfilm--which is now to be my latest project.  So I was inspired by something I didn't like.

Another unusual thing that I found helped me a lot was my English Literature course.  It taught me to think analytically about a piece of writing, and then break it down and examine the component parts of why it creates the effect that it does, sometimes down to the very word structure.  I find I can translate this to watching cinema, and now I find myself noticing certain details, such as why a certain camera angle was used, or why a character is wearing a specific item of clothing.  Such analysis helps me when I create my own films.

I find less obvious things inspire me too, such as art styles and architecture.  Seeing certain real-life buildings and vehicles gives me inspiration for sets and props.  I personally love Art Deco (I've been wanting to make a Dieselpunk film for some time now), so I often design things with that sort of an aesthetic (or at least try to).  I'm not an official artist/architect/designer, so I don't know how close to the actual style it is, but I find it helps me be creative.  There are also a bunch of smaller things that I like.  For instance, I sometimes like using bright colours as a visual contrast, or using noir-ish lighting, or utilise a certain style.  I find small details like this are often quite satisfying to implement, and it's also fun looking for them in other brickfilms or films or TV shows.

Last edited by Mr Vertigo (June 23, 2014 (04:42pm))

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Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

Persoanlly, I waqs originally inspired to animate by the Brickfilm issue of BrickJournal (issue 14, I think).  After some thought, I decided that I'd do a sitcom but in Lego form, with all the elements of a typical sitcom (laugh track, establishing scenes, etc.)  Knowing that there are no original ideas, I went to the internet to watch the Lego sitcom series that were out there.  As a lover of Robots, you would have thought Nightly News at nine would be my favorite, and I do love it.  But I have been greatly inspired by Joe Brickmond.  I loved its tribute to 70s and 80s sitcoms, and the character development was as good as anything on TV for a homemade sitcom.  My goal was to be as good as that.

I'm inspired both by classical animation and various TV shows.  The TV series most influential to Holding Our Own are:

1) All In The Family
2) Everybody Loves Raymond
3) King of the Hill
4) Joe Brickmond
5) Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

Other sitcoms that inspired the series are Police Squad!, The Flintstones, King of Queens, Laverne & Shirley, and M*A*S*H.  I sometimes include "Two And a Half Men" as inspiration, but I'm only inspired to make my shows as little like it as possible!

Along with traditional animation, I also am inspired by classical and new wave music, pop culture of the 1980s and late 70s, analysis of current events, vintage sci-fi, Mad Magazine, and a whole lot of obscuriana, all blended in a food processor.

And of course, I'm inspired by all the works and techniques from users here in BIM, because of the community here I was able to do so much that I never thought I could!

"None practice tolerance less frequently than those who most loudly preach it."

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

Personally, I believe there is inspiration in everything. I often find inspiration in mundane, everyday occurrences. An old woman is sitting at a bus stop - where is she going? Why is she going there? A plane flies overhead. Where is it going? There are 150 people on board - they each have a story...

These everyday events are the jumping off point. Take a seemingly mundane instance and create a fantastic story around it. The reverse works as well; take fantastic characters and create a mundane story for them.

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Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

AlNickelsFilms wrote:

Personally, I believe there is inspiration in everything. I often find inspiration in mundane, everyday occurrences. An old woman is sitting at a bus stop - where is she going? Why is she going there? A plane flies overhead. Where is it going? There are 150 people on board - they each have a story...

These everyday events are the jumping off point. Take a seemingly mundane instance and create a fantastic story around it. The reverse works as well; take fantastic characters and create a mundane story for them.

Honestly, I think what you're describing is inspiration in its truest form.
"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 it's my turn!" -Harley Morenstein

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

As far as brickfilms go, I don't usually get inspired by much else non-LEGO.  For Pirates Rule I just had some pirates stuff and I really liked them so I wanted to make a movie about them.  For Bank the idea just popped out of nowhere like an idea machine, and the same goes for Leprechauns in France and Sharks and Clowns.

For Odoriferous, I had once before heard the word odoriferous, and I thought that it was a marvelous word and decided that I wanted to make a story with that name.  I didn't know what to do with the word so I just tucked it away until it came back to me for BRAWL, at which time a friend was at my house who could not smell.  Somehow, I felt like that could be part of a story involving smell, and so I tried to fit that together with the theme of the contest and the colour mod, which I thought would have to make it a medieval film since I had knights in that colour.  I fit all of that together and wrote the script.

In a similar way I also really like the word "phantasmagorical" and I want to make a story that fits with that word and uses it as the title.  Phantasmagorical is probably my favourite word after no, followed by odoriferous and then pathetic.
I also really want that story to involve a villain who looks exactly like the woman from a paining called Lady in Black Velvet, which is without doubt the single most horrifying paining I have ever seen in my entire life.
However, I'm not sure exactly what's supposed to happen yet, it'd probably involve phantasms, of course, and it probably couldn't be in LEGO as the frightfulness of the Black Lady would be lost in a minifigure translation.

For Welcome to Darkmoor, I was inspired by a dream involving Jack Nicholson's Joker and a cop played by Matt Damon.
For a very long time, I let the idea sit in my head.  I wanted it too be called Welcome to Something.  It needed to be called something like that, but that something needed to sound good.  But I didn't try to force it and just let it sit and wait.
Then, sometime later, I became cognizant of a something called Welcome to Nightvale.  To this day, I still do not know what happens in Welcome to Nightvale at all.  But I thought the name sounded exactly like a very good name for Welcome to Something, but, of course, I couldn't use that name since it was taken, but it did reminded me of it and I finally thought up a name.  Also, though I don't know what happens in Welcome to Nightvale, Welcome to Darkmoor is a lot like how I imagine it to be even though I know almost nothing about it.  Which is probably nothing like it at all.

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

I think the word "Phantasmagorical" was spoken by Daffy duck.

Daffy & Elmer Fudd open an envelope, take out a paper and read it.

Elmer: Oh, no! It's terrible!

Daffy: It's worse than that!  It's Phantasmagorical!

They turn the paper around fo rthe audience to read it.  Printed are the words "THE END"

"None practice tolerance less frequently than those who most loudly preach it."

Re: Brickfilming Discussion Week 8: Be Inspired

Recently, I've been inspired by life.

A Proletarian Outlook wasn't inspired by a film or TV show or book or game - it was inspired by two guys who came to my house to fix the window. I deliberately lurked next door listening to their conversation as they worked because everything they said was just brilliant. Then I imagined what they would be like in the trenches of WW1, the caves of the stone-age, the Dark Ages, the Industrial Revolution, etc etc.

Whilst a lot of good ideas have come from art, sometimes you just need to look around you. A lot of fiction loses intimacy because the writer just hasn't observed people enough.

This all being said, a lof of my inspiration also comes from fantasy. I consider myself a true fantasy fan because I constantly make fun of it. There are so many cliches in this genre. Even stuff like Game of Thrones simultaneously crushes the head of fantasy like a watermelon and pours it another goblet of wine (which isn't poisoned...yet). One day I'll write an epic fantasy novel that completely defys all previous convention and really, really annoys a lot of people - but until then I'm happy being that heckler who attends the show every single night because secretly he loves it.


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