As the very LEGO Christmas continues at Fed Square this week, we were lucky enough to catch up with Andrew Morrey – one of our Legographers and the creative brain behind LEGO sitcom, CheepJokes.
Specialising in LEGO stop motion videos (known as “brick films”) and photos, CheepJokes has a large following on both YouTube and Instagram. Andrew’s brilliance with the camera and his sharp wit allow him to bring LEGO Minifigures to life in the most hilarious situations.
We asked Andrew to share some of his thoughts on the world of brick film-making, his work on our Christmas campaign and his infamous dog Butters!
Fed Square: How has CheepJokes evolved since you founded it in 2013?
Andrew: CheepJokes has had a really nice, unplanned evolution. I wanted to write a short sitcom, but didn’t want to use humans, so LEGO seemed like a good option… But you can’t just make a stop motion video; I knew there was going to be a lot of trial and error. So I started to make short 15 second videos on Instagram. For me, these were test videos – in each new video I was experimenting with something different: Can I make a minifigure walk? How can I make the lighting better? How can I make it seem more real? Turns out people enjoyed what they saw, and followed the videos across to YouTube to view.
Have you always been a fan of LEGO?
Of course! I have gone through phases of buying and not buying LEGO over the years, but it’s always been around. I inherited my Dad’s LEGO at a young age – I think my earliest memory would be LEGO set #1899 which was a little race car my Dad brought home for me after work one day. Who would have thought it would turn into a part-time hobby as an adult!
Making stop motion films must take an enormous amount of creativity, skill and patience! Tell us about your filming process.
Patience is definitely the largest factor! The majority of the ideas come from scenarios and conversations I witness around me. As my films are becoming longer and more complicated, so is the pre-production process. Previously, I would just have an idea, sit down and shoot. Now I find myself writing out the script, drawing story boards, creating the sets and the props, well before I even start filming. I am very fortunate to have a lot of friends willing to assist and contribute to my films now.
I have a friend from Canada Mikey Benzik who creates majority of my character voices, my neighbour Jem Vallence who has created some backing music for my recent Kevin Smith, Franco (@LLworld) who I constantly call to bounce ideas off, ‘Inside The Brick’ who have become my ‘props department’ and made the Fed Square set [pictured below] and not to mention anyone else who has a creative skill – being singing, a particular accent or impersonation.
One of your most famous works is the stop-motion film you created for The LEGO Movie premiere. How did the video come about?
I was contacted by an advertising agency in LA on behalf of a US Cinema asking me to make a series of LEGO stop motion videos for their social media. After doing some googling and realising that their email was legitimate, I replied to find out a little more about what they were after. We agreed on three short videos, which they shared on their YouTube and Instragram. With a few small adjustments, I later made it into one video for my own account.
That video has now had almost 4,000,000 views on YouTube, were you expecting that level of success?
Never! I just got lucky I think! It started off like every other video, a few views here and there. I monitor the view via the YouTube app on my phone. One day the views just started to spike! Around 20,000 just in one day! Since then it has somehow maintained a few thousand each day.
Do you have a favourite film or post?
My recent ‘Fatman Begins’ video is a favourite at the moment. Although it has a limited demographic, it’s one of the video’s I have put the most work into, and collaborated with the most people.
What inspired the content you created for Fed Square’s Big Screen?
I called a few friends while trying to come up with ideas. Unable to use the licenced characters, I had to get a little creative. For the ‘Santa Returns’ video, I tried to create it as a movie trailer, with the Gingerbread man as the bad guy, wanting to ruin Carols by Candlelight. And then there is the Drake video ‘Holiday Bling’ [below]… That was the first one I shot, but the last to edit… How could I NOT get on board with mocking that song?!
Your dog Butters [pictured below] was a hit at the LEGO Christmas Tree launch at Fed Square. Has Butters ever been featured in your content?
Butters the dog is a new addition to our family, and has the attention span of Brett Wilson (@brett_wilson). I haven’t been able to write him into anything just yet, but I’m sure in the future I will be able to. His cat brothers (Terrance and Phillip) have made an appearance before, so I guess it’s only fair to include him.
You attended Fed Square’s first ever Instameet (#Brickstameet) on Saturday, how did it compare to others you’ve been to?
Don’t tell anyone… But this was actually my first time! As a LEGO Instagrammer, it generally leaves you in the spare room playing with bricks by yourself. It does however give me greater appreciation for accounts such as @HelloBenTeoh who take it out in public to capture some great photos. It has definitely inspired me to get my bricks out of the house, and organise a future Brickstameet.
You co-host a talk show with @LLworld, do you have plans for where you might take the show in the future?
If people start watching, we would like to keep involving people from all different aspects of the LEGO community. Instragrammers, Master Builders, Collectors, Educational Services, Stores etc. LEGO is used by so many people for so many different things; it would be great to share these stories.
Do you have any advice for budding brick film-makers?
Your first film is going to suck! This is probably the most important thing to know when you get started. Stop Motion takes a lot of practice, so keep at it. @LLworld and I are currently working on a book on ‘How to make Stop Motion’ and ‘How to make Comics’, it will provide a step-by-step process to help you get started, including some great tips and tricks! Pre-order your copy here.
You can see CheepJoke’s videos and photos on the Big Screen as part of Christmas at Fed Square.