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Brick by Brick: Building a 'Ghostbusters' 30th Anniversary LEGO Movie

Stop-motion animator Marc-André Caron pays homage to a comedy classic with a wonderful new stop-motion LEGO movie short.

All images courtesy of Marc-André Caron.

What better way to celebrate the Ghostbusters 30th anniversary than….spend months animating a commemorative stop-motion LEGO brickfilm! That’s exactly what LEGO brickfilm animator Marc-André Caron did. Also known by his YouTube channel name MonsieurCaron, Marc-André is a lifelong LEGO fan and, more recently, a history teacher and even more recently, a LEGO brickfilm maker. Since 2011, he’s been quite busy creating a stream of brickfilm shorts, including a Ninjago series, a Simpsons LEGO Movie Couch Gag Intro as well as his most recent creation, The LEGO Ghostbusters Movie. We spoke about the project and his growing presence within the LEGO brickfilm universe.

Dan Sarto: How did you get started making LEGO brickfilms? How did this Ghostbusters tribute film come about?

Marc-André Caron: Since the “Back to the Future DeLorean” LEGO set came out, I’ve been planning on using it in a stop-motion film. But this year being the 30th anniversary of the Ghostbusters movie, while next year, 2015, is the year they travel to in Back to the Future Part II, I've chosen to take my summer this year to work on my Ghostbuster homage.

DS: From a “business” standpoint, the revenue you’ve referred to on your website, is this from a rev-share on display/preroll advertising? What is your experience monetizing your work and what opportunities do you see in the future?

MAC: Three years ago, I registered as a YouTube partner (with AdSense) and was accepted (they accept everybody now). So I started doing brickfilms, dreaming that one day I would get a check from Google. When my JuraBrick Park brickfilm went online, it was so popular that I got my first check from Google. That helped to pay for the LEGO and some software, but it wasn’t not enough to pay for my time. I can't quit my day job, but I'm dreaming about it. Who doesn't want to get paid to play with LEGO?

DS: Tell me a bit about your creative process and the tools you use. Do you fabricate any of your own LEGO pieces or materials or is everything from standard kits?

MAC: All my project start with an idea, and most of the time that idea comes from LEGO sets or a minifig. With the “Ghostbusters Ecto-1” kit it was obvious that I wanted to redo scenes from the movie. I have a box with dozens of spacemen and another with zombies...Don't know yet what I will do with them, but I will do something fun.

I always start by writing down a little script, just to see if I have something that can be made into LEGO. Then, I start building the sets, using some official LEGO sets and creating whatever I need. This is the fun part, creating a complete movie set with LEGO. I can spend hours trying to get a house or a car right...even if its end up no being on screen (like the top of the firehouse in Ghostbusters).

As far as production, I shoot with a Canon T3 DSLR and capture with DragonFrame software. I bring everything into Adobe After Effects for special effects, framing and compositing. I do my final editing with Adobe Premiere. I even still do sound with my Mac GarageBand!

DS: Why do you think LEGO brick films are so popular?

MAC: LEGO bricks are truly addictive, I can't get enough. I now own over 100,000 bricks and over 1000 minifigures. It's the perfect toy from our childhood. Everybody remembers having played with LEGO bricks at one point. With only one box and a little imagination, you can build a pirate ship, a moon base or a firehouse... it's limitless. And now that I am an adult, I can build whatever I want, the size I want it... and do movie with it.

DS: What are some of the other LEGO brickfilms and filmmakers you enjoy the most? How many of these filmmakers do you think there are that are doing work you consider “good?”

MAC: There are so many great brickfilmers on the Internet. Their work inspires me to get better every time. I was first inspired by David Pagano (Paganomation) and then discovered the work of David M Pickett (NNN), The Four Monkeys, Brotherhood workshop (they’re soooo good), ForestFire101, MichaelHickoxFilms, SpastikChuwawa and many more. Each of them have a very personal way of doing brickfilms, telling stories, building and animating LEGO. To be honest, I study every movie they produce to see what I can learn from them because they make me feel "not that good" every time. But, like I said, we all have our personal way of brickfilming and that's OK. 

DS: What was the spark that brought you from teaching history to making brick films?

MAC: One of my first ideas was to make short history movies with LEGO to show to my students in class. But then, it was more fun to animate robots, zombies and spacemen than redoing history lessons. I'm still teaching...but with a LEGO touch. 

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Visit MonsieurCaron’s YouTube channel to find all his work as well as related links.

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.