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Creative Capers Interview
Posted by Purple_Dave on September 1, 2003 at 10:00 AM CST:
The following interview was conducted on behalf of by Mark Hurray from, based on questions provided primarily by our own Mark Durham, and with the final edit being done by myself.

The LEGO Company came to entrust their BIONICLE? franchise to such an inauspicious place. Although you?d never guess from its modest exterior, the studio, tucked around a quiet corner in Glendale, California, is credited as one of Hollywood?s leading independent animation studios. Upon entering the lobby, CCE?s quiet fa?ade gives way to an environment of imagination and creativity many only dream of one day working in. An eclectic bunch, the walls of the office are decorated with mementos of their creative past with the likes of Don Bluth Studios and the Walt Disney Company. Standing as testaments to inspiration, all sorts of knickknacks and gadgets can be found here and there. From finely robed Japanese dolls and tin robots displayed on an antique end table to the Schwinn ?Lemon Peeler? bicycle and plastic hobby horse hung from the rafters, it?s easy to see this is a group of people who take having fun very seriously. Finally, mixed in amongst all this eye candy, one can?t help but notice a solitary TOA perched atop the conference room?s big screen television.

Creative Capers Entertainment was founded in 1989, as a collaborative endeavor of multi-talented artists and professionals. The studio is lead by Sue and Terry Shakespeare, and David Molina, each with a background in animation and design touching on some of the industries most influential companies and memorable works. All three began their careers with the Don Bluth Studios. While Terry and David moved on from there to work for the Walt Disney Company, developing several character product lines and concept work for the chain of Disney stores and Toon Town, Sue sharpened her skills first at Bagdasarian Productions as an associate producer on such animation classics as The Chipmunk Adventures and then at Warner Brothers taking over the distressed Rover Dangerfield production. Sue quickly established her reputation within the industry as someone who could complete projects on time and within budget. Together, Sue, Terry, and David present a package that any company seeking to expand their franchise into animation would find hard to resist.

In December of 2001, Capers began vying for the BIONICLE project with very little knowledge of the product line itself. The challenge before them was to turn the increasingly popular toy line into an animated world that encompassed all the imagination millions of fans the world over had already invested in it. In order to accomplish this, it was clear from the beginning that these hard plastic toys had to be taught how to act. Their initial proposal showed the fire in the eyes of the TOA and softened the characters stoic exterior bringing the world of MATA NUI to life. The LEGO Company, and executive producers Bob Thompson and Conny Kalcher, quickly realized Creative Capers was the perfect partner.

After briefly speaking with Terry and David about the origin and background of the BIONICLE world, it was a little hard to imagine they had just been introduced to it barely a year ago. Both presented a knowledge and understanding of the characters and mythos that would make The LEGO Company proud. Their genuine enthusiasm in bringing these characters to life puts one of the mind that they had been a part of the BIONICLE myth from the very beginning. As a fan, it was hard to imagine a group of people that would be more qualified to handle this much-anticipated project. After covering much of the BIONICLE history, David and Terry began to talk about how they, and The LEGO Company, went about bringing the characters and world to life.

As with everything, it all starts with a story. Because the BIONICLE line was created as a movie toy line without the movie, stepping back to make the film presented its own challenges. What characters to focus on, where in the overall story to begin?? To come up with some of these answers The LEGO Company and executive producer Bob Thompson turned to scriptwriter Henry Gilroy to help flesh out the first BIONICLE movie. While Gilroy?s name may not sound familiar at first, his list of credits include episodes for Disney?s Lilo & Stitch TV series, The Tick, the Batman Animated Series, and more recently comic book adaptations for Lucasfilm and Dark Horse Comics on the first two Star Wars prequel movies, and Disney?s recent home DVD/Video release of Atlantis: Milo?s Return.

With so much of the myth already available to fans, it was decided to move forward on a new adventure that touched on many different facets of MATA NUI life. Rather than focusing their attention on one or more TOA, the super hero protectors of the imaginary island, it was decided to focus on two unlikely heroes and their quest to discover the seventh TOA. The mysterious MASK OF LIGHT has been discovered deep in a forbidden cave by two young MATORAN, JALA and TAKUA. The two must set out among the forces of good and evil to fulfill an ancient prophecy that may finally bring peace to their island world. Those familiar with the myth will recognize TAKUA as the ?Chronicler? of MATA NUI, an obvious choice through which to tell this tale. With much of the plot still kept tightly under wraps, one thing is certain, BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT will offer up an action-packed adventure of epic proportion between the forces of good and evil.

Once many of the story elements were set, and it was known what would be required of the characters, Creative Capers began their work of bringing the story to life. From the very start, Terry and David recognized the characters of MATA NUI would have to undergo a slight transformation in order to carry an audience?s attention through a full length feature film. Their approach, with the approval of The LEGO Company and the aid of Taiwan based CGCG Inc.; they began to make certain aspects of the toy line appear more organic. More details on this have been provided as a LEGO? Club online exclusive.

For die hard fans, The LEGO Company and Creative Capers also dropped several Easter Eggs into the design of MASK OF LIGHT. Viewers will find a number of well placed symbols and codes that apply to the myth and other aspects of the BIONICLE world. While no one was ready to talk about details, this is sure to add a deeper significance for those that have been with the line since the beginning.

As is typical with animation, voice casting began long before the visuals were complete. Sue Shakespeare, Danica Katz and Kris Zimmerman held auditions in Vancouver, Canada and tested hundereds of artists to come up with the twelve that were finally cast in the film. To ensure character identity, the decision was made early on not to cast celebrity voices in the film. Although, in talking with Dannika it?s clear that for some of the talent cast in MASK OF LIGHT this is only the beginning of what should be a very promising career. Because The LEGO Company factors in as such a large presence on the international toy market, the process of dubbing MASK OF LIGHT into foreign language versions is already under way. The video may not receive a single world wide release date, but fans in other countries can expect the film relatively soon after its U.S. debut.

Finally, as the glue that binds all these elements together, the time came to score the film. While several different styles of music were bandied about, it was clear in keeping with the epic feel of the story, a classical soundtrack was the most appropriate. From there it turned to a choice between orchestra, digital composition, or something in between. In their search, and with a little help from Tim Borquez at Hacienda Sound Effects, Terry and David were introduced to 24-year-old composer Nathan Furst. Nathan?s body of work and sheer enthusiasm won him the job. From little more than a desire just to be a part of the project, Nathan?s studio compositions wowed the Creative Capers team and The LEGO Company alike. In preparation for the final score, Nathan sampled sounds from across the globe, many from the exotic locales, to lend a real-world texture to the music heard in the film. The finished product is truly the emotional soul of the film and accents the action, grandeur, and intimacy of the movie amazingly well.

Having been treated to the three minute clip, and seeing the culmination of everyone?s efforts, the release of the MASK OF LIGHT never seemed further away. Set for release on September 16th, the DVD/Video is poised as one of the more anticipated movies of the year. The film, now completed, will run 70 minutes long and is presented in the widescreen (16:9) format on DVD and fullscreen format on video cassette. As has come to be expected, the DVD will offer a slew of bonus features not available on VHS, including the Making of BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT, audio commentary, and a number of deleted scenes. While the marketing strategy hasn't been fully unveiled, things really started picking up around mid-July. As one of the premiere events for the comic book, film, and toy industries, the San Diego Comic-Con was the perfect venue for the first public convention appearance of the BIONICLE franchise.

In wrapping up my visit to Creative Capers, one thing was abundantly clear. From start to finish, and all along the process, the cooperation and enthusiasm over this film was unmatched by anything I?ve ever heard of before. As I packed up my things and headed back to my car, one thought came to mind; great things can come in small packages, and as pedestrians stroll past the seeming quiet building, little do they know of the adventure the tiny studio is about to unleash on the world.

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