Brickfilms Interviews: JamesFM

How old are you and where are you from?

My name is James Frank Maduzia. I am an 18-year-old home-school student who will be attending college this August (03). I live in Concord California, which is located in the northern part of the state, near San Francisco. I am originally from the state of Texas, but have lived in California almost all my life.

How did you get into brickfilming?

About 6 years ago, I was down south visiting relatives when my cousin showed me a movie he had made with his GI-Joes, Jurassic Park dinosaurs and Ghostbusters buildings using a VHS-C camcorder. The movie was almost half an hour long and was primarily live action with a substantial amount of stop-mo. Upon seeing the scene when the jeep speeds across the bedroom floor and the T-Rex follows in hot pursuit, I blurted out How do you make them move like that, without your hands!?! (I honestly had no clue) Well he showed me and when I got home I tried to make a couple with our camcorder but soon I lost interest. Five years later, after seeing my 12-year-old neighbor in a comical attempt to make even a half decent LEGO movie with his LEGO Studios set with a room of hyperactive and impatient 10 to 12 year olds I got interested, searched the Internet and found!

What software do you use and like?

There’s a load of good software out there, but this is what I have been using. For animating I am currently using Ansazi Stop Motion Animator. (Someday, I will upgrade to Stop Motion Pro) In the past I�ve used DDClipFree for adding sound and editing, and Video Mach for compressing, but now I use Vegas Video 4.0 for those tasks. For the beginning animator I would hardily recommend Ansazi SMA, DDClipFree and Video Mach (All free programs) as the essentials of starting out in brickfiliming.

In The Letter you have some pretty humorous parts, were they just spur of the moment type stuff or did you plan it?

I really like this question. It’s almost split in half. At the point of its conception, The Letter included these 4 action events before the character made it to the mailbox: 1.Getting tripped by the cat. 2. Being hit by the speeder bike. 3. Dodging a speeding vehicle after the streetlight changes the light on him. And 4. Getting hit by the truck after the accident involving the little dragon. Everything else was a spur of the moment event; either the idea came to me a few scenes before it was to take place, or while I was already filming that very scene.

The animation in the letter was extraordinary, how much work did you put into it in your opinion?

I can’t say it was easy going, but I can say it got easier and easier the more I animated.

Did you have any inspiration that triggered you to make the letter or add things to it?

The only thing I had inspiration wise was actually working on the film when all the ideas just kept coming and coming. I had so many ideas while shooting that I had to leave most of them out. Some of these Ideas include a scene with 007 breaking into a building and wasting some thugs who were carting chemical weapons around. I started filming that scene but stopped. Another scene I actually filmed completely was a carjacking, in which the thug, right after he bumped the main character walked out in the road and slugged a lady over the head with his club and stole her car. The original conclusion to the movie was also dropped; it called for the character to be attacked by a scrabble piece at the mailbox!

How did you do the panning around the bus and guy just before he got hit?

I did this scene in live motion with my Quickcam 4000. I mounted the cam on three curved railroad tracks and swung it with my hand back and forth while the LEGOs stayed in their position. I tried animating it at first, it didn’t work, I tried to swing in back and forth just the amount I wanted in the finished clip, that didn’t work either. The real break through came when I swung it back and forth repeatedly allowing me to get the motion as smooth as possible. I later edited the clip down to the best swing.

The sets in your movie are great, how much time did they take?

They took a long, long time. I have a limited collection of LEGO so often I found myself waiting for the courier to arrive so I could finish the set to my exacting specifications. Of course when I didn�t feel so exacting I just used sheets of paper.

If you could give one piece of advice to a brickfilmer, what would it be?

Every good animator has to have some level of patience and persistence. The more patience you have, the better your films will turn out. The more you animate, the more skill and patience to will acquire.