Everyone who was around at the time remembers the golden years of brickfilming. The years between 2008 and 2012 were an unprecedented age of growth and creativity for the Lego stopmotion animation community. It gave rise to YouTube channels with unforgettable names like “pizzamovies”, “spugesdu”, “darthmilo77”, “fancypants”, “Keshen8”, and “ZachMG”. But the prosperity wouldn’t last. The health of the community gradually began to fade as quickly as it had risen.
Today, the brickfilming community looks very different. It’s a smaller, niche group that’s often overlooked and forgotten by the broader Lego community. People still occasionally create brickfilms with their Lego, but they don’t get nearly the same attention they used to. And to this day, brickfilmers continue to ask the question, “Who killed the brickfilming community?”
The answer isn’t simple by any means. Brickfilmers have theorized a plethora of reasons for the death of their beloved community, including everything from changes to the YouTube algorithm to the sudden cancellation of the popular Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series which captivated much of the Lego community during the golden age. There’s credibility to all of these reasons, yet none explain how such a diverse community seemingly vanished overnight. If I were to give an answer, I would say that after interviewing individuals from both the building and animating communities, and extensive reection on what visibly happened, I have concluded that the death of the bricklming community was not a murder, but a suicide. To suggest that it was brickfilmers that killed their own community is nothing short of controversial, and will certainly anger a few people, but please hear me out and allow me to explain.
Many people correctly point out that just before things got bad, a number of prominent bricklmers left the community to pursue important things in their personal lives such as college. One can hardly blame them, as keeping up a hobby like bricklming is dicult while living away from your Lego and lming equipment. However, communities rarely die because a few important people disappear. When this happens, it falls on those left in the group to carry on and assume their roles. Unfortunately, in the case of the bricklming community, those whom the mantel fell to made a crucial mistake by alienating a key demographic: Lego fans. Yes, that’s right, Lego fans.
You see, brickfilming is a hobby that combines both the Lego and stop-motion animation hobbies, and thus draws from both communities. During the golden age of brickfilming, the vast majority of people who spent their time creating and watching bricklms were Lego fans that simply wanted a means to bring their creations to life, rather than hobbyist filmmakers who had chosen to use Lego as a medium for stop-motion. This is evidenced by the fact that many popular brickfilm channels, including my own, featured other kinds of Lego related content including MOCs, army showcases, reviews, tutorials, and custom minigures. Back then it was common for friendships to transcend all branches of the Lego community, with groups featuring MOC builders, customizers, and brickfilmers alike.
This unity ultimately suffered as things in the brickfilming community began to fall apart. The animators who remained and those who succeeded the ones who had left seemed increasingly focused on the fillmmaking aspect of the hobby, and the attention was turned away from the Lego community on which the bricklming hobby depended. One could argue that they had always held this focus, as many of them made no secret about their desire to work in the film industry someday. But without the major community members whose love of the brick came first, the consequence was still the same. As the focus of the bricklming community shifted away from the medium and more towards nuanced lmmaking, much of the Lego community lost interest in brickfilms, and likewise many brickfilmers lost interest in reaching out to others in the broader Lego community. This was ultimately the brickfilming community’s death knell, and it would never be the same.
Since then, the brickfilming hobby has endured, but in a greatly diminished state. Great brickfilms continue to awe and inspire us, but much of the community still spends its time speaking more of movies and prominent directors than of their hobby. In spite of this, it continues to seek a means to recapture the glories of the past to no avail because something is always missing. We can rebuild, but efforts to do so will not succeed unless brickfilmers seek to reengage with the broader Lego community.
This is something I’ve worked at tirelessly over the past several months. By joining RebelLUG and displaying my films at Lego conventions, I’ve sought to remind the Lego community that brickfilmers still exist, and that it doesn’t take being a filmmaker or an artist to do what we do. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. I’ve seen several well-known builders picking up their cameras and giving it a shot after getting to know me, and in turn, I’ve also been reminded by them of what a joy it can be to simply sit down with your collection and just build something to enjoy as it is.
The brickfilming community has a future, and it can be a bright one if we fully embrace the medium that made it so great in the rst place. I encourage every brickfilmer out there to get more involved in the Lego community. Join a LUG! Go to a convention! Try something new with your channel! But most importantly, make friends with the other people in this incredible community! I promise you won’t regret it, because together we can create some truly amazing things!