Toonzone Goes to "LEGO Batman: The Movie" Premiere at the Paley Center for Media, NYC
Director of Photography Jeremy Pardon is another veteran of Traveller’s Tales, with numerous credits on the many LEGO video games. As with his compatriot Jon Burton, LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite is his first time as the director of photography on a feature film.
Q: What is different about working in the LEGO world over regular films or regular movies?
JEREMY PARDON: I think it’s probably the charm that comes from LEGO. Initially, when we first started working with the LEGO characters, LEGO was saying, “Make it funny, make it funny.” But what we got straight-away was that these guys just acting was funny. It was just fun to watch them do things. Now that we’ve got voice actors with them, it’s brought it to a whole different level. These characters are really performing. It’s charming. It’s fun. And even though you might hear the same line of dialogue that you hear in the movie and you see it in the game, it gives it a whole different take. It’s great. It’s fun.
TOONZONE NEWS: What would you say was the strangest hard technical challenge that you had to overcome making this movie?
JEREMY PARDON: I can tell you some things that are really hard to do (laughs). Working with tens of thousands of pieces of LEGO is hard. Our PCs were dying under that kind of stress, and you’ll see some of the shots of the film where we blow up some pretty big stuff. That was hard (laughs). And remember, all of this is going through what is effectively a game engine. There’s an offline renderer, but it is based on the game engine, so there are techincal limitations to it, and all of this is being pumped through that. But it gave us some unique advantages as well, which we’ll probably come to when we have the chat later, but working with that number and that density of LEGO was incredible. When you see a big ship falling down the building? Yeah, that was hard (laughter).
Q: Who was the hardest character to get right?
JEREMY PARDON: Blimey. I would say it’s probably Lex because he’s so subtle. There’s some great performances on Joker. In fact, one of my favorite performances is on Joker, but he’s so flamboyant and theatrical it’s easier to know what to go for with him. With Lex Luthor, it’s far more subtle. He’s kind of brooding, he’s really cheesed off at Bruce Wayne, and you just see these little brief moments of him flipping out and getting really angry and just kind of hitting Joker or punching his fist down or hitting the table because he’s getting really frustrated. On the outside, normally, he’s quite calm on the face, so it’s quite a subtle performance.
Q: Seems like it’d be hard to do subtlety with a LEGO character.
JEREMY PARDON: Yeah, it’s hard. I come from animation, and one of the biggest things that I want to do is for these characters to really perform and to act. It’s crucial for these characters to be believable, so we push the character acting. When you see the movie, you see Joker on the stage and he’s laughing and throwing himself about, it’s just great fun.
Q: Are you a fan of the old Tim Burton films?
JEREMY PARDON: I am. Yeah.
Q: I’m seeing a very strong similarity.
JEREMY PARDON: Yup, you will do. Absolutely. You’ll obviously see some similarities in the opening sequence and…funny enough, the opening sequence was done by a lady whose name I’ve forgotten…I feel really bad, but she teaches at the Banbury School of Art, which is where I studied. And she did all the camera work going into the model of the Bat logo, so it’s fantastic after all these years going back and re-creating that in LEGO. It’s brilliant.
Q: Will you be doing any more superhero LEGO movies?
JEREMY PARDON: I hope so. I’d like to work on one. It’s been a lot of fun.
Q: Would it have to be tied into another video game?
JEREMY PARDON: Who knows? We’ll see. But obviously, what we do is we make games of films, so it’s natural that if we make another film, why not make a game of it? It’s all fitting.
Q: There’s another superhero film coming out this summer…
JEREMY PARDON: Yeah, yeah. I hope it’s going to be good.
Q: Will there be a LEGO movie or game on that?
JEREMY PARDON: Who knows, who knows? (laughs).
TOONZONE NEWS: With young Jeremy Pardon, who wins: LEGO or Superhero Comic Books?
JEREMY PARDON: (Laughs) LEGO or Superhero Comic Books? Oh…probably Superhero comic books, actually.
Q: Which superhero comics were you into?
JEREMY PARDON: Well, to be honest, I was more a superhero sticker fan. My bedroom door was just covered in these superheros tickers you could get back then. I was mad for them, and now growing up, I love the graphic novels. Sin City is one of my favorite graphic novels, purely from an art point of view. It’s absolutely gorgeous.