Interview with ZachMG
Recently BrickUltra had a chance to interview ZachMG who was nice enough to answer these questions on his own time. Be sure to check out his channel!
1) What inspired you to start brickfilming?
In 2004, a friend and I were bored one summer afternoon, and he suggested that we make a short film. He introduced me to stop-motion animation using an old MiniDV camcorder one of us had (we were using the start-stop record button technique) and some chess pieces as characters, and I pretty much fell in love with the format after that. A few months later, I stumbled across a short LEGO film promoting Spider-Man 2 called Spider-Man: The Peril of Doc Ock (made by SpiteYourFace Productions), and I was flabbergasted by it. Then it reminded me that I had buckets of old LEGO sets gathering dust in the back of my closet, and one thing led to another and the rest is history, as they say.
2) Who is your favorite brickfilmer and what is your favourite brickfilm?
There have been so many great brickfilmers over the years, some still active and some not, that have inspired me that it would be nearly impossible to name all of them. Of the ones still making films today, some of my favorites are SpastikChuwawa, NXTManiac94, SmeagolStudios, Keshen8, Jay Silver (zirkusaffe3), 0ldScratch, Paganomation, filmyguy, Forrestfire, and probably a bunch of others that I’m forgetting.
As far as my favorite film goes, it’s a bit of a tossup between three. The first is an old horror film called Good Company: Redux by Hali. It features one of the most complex and well-told stories I’ve seen in a brickfilm, and it one of the few examples of an effectively frightening “horror” LEGO movie. The second is Cognizance by Cometgreen. This is an extraordinarily beautiful film aided by effective cinematography and composition. I have no idea how Comet was able to evoke so much emotion from tiny little plastic minifigures, but he managed to pull off that difficult task extraordinarily well. The third is a recent film, Henri & Edmond – Copyright. It’s only been out since Christmas, but I can already declare it one of my absolute favorites. It’s almost difficult to put into words how good it is, so I’ll simply say that nearly every aspect of it is immaculate, from the writing to the animation to the voice acting to the production design. It’s a sequel to an already fantastic film, The New Neighbor, and it made the transition from the short film format to the relatively-feature length format (36 minutes) without a hitch. I would call it not only one of the best brickfilms I’ve ever seen, but one of the very best short films I’ve seen in general.
3) What is your favorite lego set?
I’m a big fan of those City Street sets, like Cafe Corner, Market Street, Green Grocer, etc. (I’m not sure what the line is called exactly, but they’re been consistently been highly-detailed and gorgeously-designed).
4) Did you ever think you would become this popular?
Honestly, no. One day I just sort of noticed that The Laws of Sir Isaac Newton had over 100,000 views and I had about 400 subscribers on my channel, it was all sort of surreal. I never did anything to promote myself or my films on YouTube, it all just sort of happened (even now, I don’t really do much “promotional” stuff for my films). I guess I just got lucky, to put it bluntly.
5) Does making LEGO Stop-motion influence in your social life?
It hasn’t adversely affected my social life, if that’s what you’re asking. Most of my friends know that I make LEGO stop-motion, and they’ve all been highly supportive of me and my hobby, many of whom are also fans of my work. I suppose I have been fairly blessed in that regard; I’ve been able to lead a relatively normal life alongside my secondary online/YouTube life, and they rarely have come into conflict with each other.
6) What’s your favorite part about making a brickfilm?
I think it’s the sense of accomplishment that comes with it, and that really can come from any area of production. Whether it be a particular part of a script that I really like, or rendering a finished shot that came out really well, or just watching the whole film come together in post, there’s a kind of satisfactory feeling that comes with having one of your ideas come to fruition, especially when it pans out exactly as you envisioned it.
7) If you could go back to when you began brickfilming would you have changed anything you did on your videos or on youtube?
There are a few films that I would have liked to have gone back and done differently. I think the ideas sounded good at the time (and perhaps they were), but the execution on some of them could have been much stronger, I think. Films of mine like The Emperor’s Royal Guard, The Sales Pitch, Gears of Solace, Back to School Nightmare, It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane!, and a few others I think could have been done a lot better. Of course, I tend to be hyper-critical of my own work, so there’s only a small handful of my own films I’m truly proud of.
8 ) What would you be doing if youtube didn’t exist?
Good question. I’d probably still be animating as a hobby at the very least, but YouTube has had such a massive impact on my goals and ambitions that it’s difficult to predict where I’d be now had it not existed. I hope that I would still have been involved in film, as it really has become something of a passion of mine over the years.
9) Do you have any tips for aspiring animators?
Patience is a virtue. Seriously. Stop-motion animation is an incredibly tedious and time-consuming process that demands a lot of trial and error (and trust me, you’ll run into a lot of errors while you’re still learning). You have to be willing to accept that it not only takes a lot of time, practice, and dedication to get good at it, but that getting good at it is not an overnight thing. I’ve been animating seriously for about seven years now, and I still believe there’s a lot I have yet to master. However, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, it can be quite a rewarding hobby as well as a great learning tool.
10) What are your plans for the future?
At the moment, I’m not entirely sure. I’m still in the midst of college, and that’s taken up a lot of my time currently (as evidenced by how stagnant my channel goes during the school year, which I’m terribly sorry about), and as of yet, I don’t have a clear idea of what I plan on doing once I graduate. However, I still plan to brickfilm whenever I get free time and I don’t have any plans to stop anytime soon. I already have a few projects lined up for the summer, and I’m definitely looking forward to the break when I can get back to work on those.
Be sure to check out ZachMG channel!