In 2009, filmmakers Christopher Miller and Phil Lord made their mark with the Sony Animation hit Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and while their live action directorial debut, the Jonah Hill-Channing Tatum action-comedy 21 Jump Street, comes out on March 16, they still have their hands in animation as they move forward on development with the planned LEGO movie for Warner Bros. and are involved with the “Cloudy” sequel, currently (and tentatively) called Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers.
ComingSoon.net had a chance to talk with Miller and Lord and get some updates on those other projects, especially their LEGO movie since there were and are still a lot of questions about what this movie is going to be since the project was first announced.
They’re still working on developing the story with Animal Logic in Australia and co-director Chris McKay working with a unit in Los Angeles and Lord explained the approach they’re taking with the film as “CGI with a stop motion feel to it and it’s really weird in a great way.”
“We’re really building stuff with real LEGOs for the character design phase and the vehicle designs,” Miller said. “We have LEGO experts and people literally building stuff and a room filled with LEGOs and the storyboard artist making things and shooting them on their phones, it’s pretty nuts.”
Since “Cloudy” took a long time to get made, we wondered whether this would be the same case with the LEGO movie and we might not see it for another three years.
“We want to release it sooner than that and we have a great team and we’re moving really quickly, the animatics are turning around really fast,” Lord said. “One of the things that’s lucky about McKay is that his background is as an editor so we’ve introduced editing into the process a lot sooner than we probably otherwise would.”
The filmmakers also addressed some of the skepticism people have had about the movie being an extended advertising for the LEGO brand.
“The thing about it is obviously it’s not a big LEGO commercial for products,” Miller told us. “LEGOs are the medium that we’re using to tell a story. If you’ve seen any of those brick films online people make in their basement, it’s sort of one of those but with a much bigger budget, as if somebody had a really big basement and a lot of time.”
“One of the ways we like to think about it is that it’s a medium, not a brand,” Lord chimed in.
“It’s not like they’re selling clay when they do a claymation movie, so it’s sort of like that,” Miller finished the thought. “We’re telling an interesting story and the medium we’re using to tell it is these little LEGO bricks and these little characters.”
Since the duo have been busy finishing up and promoting 21 Jump Street, we were curious how involved they’ve been in developing Sony Animation’s planned sequel to their hit animated movie.
“We worked on the treatment for the story and we chose the guys who are directing it, who was our head of story (Kris Pearn) and one of the lead storyboard artists (Cody Cameron) from the first one,” Miller said. “They’re great, very talented and funny guys and we knew they would really do a great job with it.”
“We have the same design team of the movie with some amazing additions, and the character designs are even crazier. The movie’s going to look even better. It’s really insane,” Lord continued.
We were most curious whether the subversive humor from the first movie, which Miller and Lord developed for many years, would carry over into the sequel.
“That’s the best thing about the animatics we’ve already seen and the early work that’s been done, is that it’s already really funny,” Lord said, and Miller agrees that they’re doing a great job capturing that distinctive tone.
Look for the rest of our interview with the directors of 21 Jump Street sometime before the movie opens on March 16.
NOTE: There was some confusion in the original story about the status of Animal Logic and its relation to Happy Feet 2, since it was the animation house who did the original movie but we’ve since been corrected in our misunderstanding of the situation and the article has been updated accordingly.