Thus began the cultural phenomenon known as the brickfilm. A brickfilm is a movie that is created by using LEGO’s, MegaBloks and other plastic, brick-shaped connective toys. Many people, particularly those who had long been LEGO collectors, started to use their blocks to build intricate sets and characters, carefully posing and then repositioning them for frame after stop motion frame.
The MovieMaker set was quietly discontinued soon after its release. The camera quality was poor, and it could no longer justify the high-dollar price tag. It had, however, sparked a wonderful interest in using LEGO’s to make stop motion films. These building bricks were the perfect medium for aspiring animators. They were small, portable, plentiful, and did not require painstaking set design or armature construction. It was, essentially, an untapped concept that began to blossom into a marketing bonanza for LEGO.
Customers began to publish their brickfilms on the internet. Jason Rowoldt, a brickfilms fan, designed a website with the same name and used it to display various brickfilms that he had viewed on other internet sites. He accepted submissions from other brickfilm enthusiasts, and the site quickly grew into the wildly popular internet destination that it has become today. It is currently owned by Josh Leasure, who took over duties in 2003.
Brickfilms.com is a booming, thriving community. It is made up of collectors, animators, special effects junkies and all-around fans. The website has an immense gallery of homegrown brickfilm productions (as well as some that look like big-budget feature films), and often features contests to sharpen the member’s competitive edge.
Animators can access busy forums, enjoy private email accounts, and even create their own websites within the Brickfilms.com domain! Members have also begun to collaborate on larger projects which they call “community” films.
In March of 2006, a brickfilms podcast was recognized on iTunes, appearing prominently on the iPod music and podcast page. The brickfilms podcasts are a revolutionary blend of animated films (from various members of the brickfilms.com community), tips and tutorials designed to educate the public at large and promote the brickfilm phenomenon.
Many amateur filmmakers who have created truly great brickfilms are regarded with the same low-key awe and respect from fellow brick filmmakers as the general public acts towards prominent Hollywood feature film directors
The movement has become so strong that there is now an annual film festival dedicated to the craft of brickfilm animation. This year’s event will be held in late August in Washington D.C. For more information, visit this fascinating website at www.brickfilms.com.
Though LEGO has shied away from its initial marketing strategy and seems to dislike the growing success of brickfilms.com, they unwittingly started a trend that is not likely to go away anytime soon.