Lights, camera … Lego

By Alex Cooke

Whether you’re looking to make a 30-second movie of a man walking, or a feature length film of a ship disaster, you can get help at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Once a month, local filmmaker and animator Jenna Marks teaches stop-motion animation classes at the museum.

The movie stars? Lego people.

Last Saturday was busy. Jeanne Church, who works in visitor information at the museum, says that normally six or seven students sign up for the class. Last week, there were twice as many.

The program was started to tie in with the museum’s Lego City by the Sea display, she says.

Marks, a NSCAD University film graduate, has been teaching the class for more than a year. She says it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

While most of the students are elementary and junior high school-aged, the class is open to all ages and experience levels.

“We have a couple students that are way better with the stop motion app on their phone that I am, and then we have students who have no idea what animation is at all,” says Marks.

“It’s kind of fun when that happens, because it’s easy to just blow their minds when you take one picture, and another picture, and another picture, and it looks like it’s moving.”

Nick Hasey works on his stop-motion remake of the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure
Nick Hasey works on his stop-motion remake of the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure (Photo: Alex Cooke)

Nick Hasey is a regular. The 18-year-old has been interested in animation for years, and has something big in the works – a stop-motion Lego remake of the 1972 movie The Poseidon Adven- ture. He’s been working on it for three years, and he says it’s around 75 per cent done. He has a shoebox full of detailed cardboard models that he brings to every class. They include walls and furniture for the inside of the ship.

Others were trying it out for the first time. Erin MacDonald, who heard about the class through Facebook, thought it would be a good experience for her two kids, since they’ve been interested in animation for a while.

“It was affordable, and it was something that captures their imagination right away; they could gather the materials at home and start to think about it,” she says. “It was a way to try it without making a huge investment.”

The class is the cost of youth admission to the museum: $5.15.

Teaching the class is rewarding, Marks says. She likes working with children and helping them with something she enjoys doing.

“I think animation’s really good for kids, too, because it’s a fun way to learn about math and motion, and that kind of stuff … stuff that you wouldn’t think would be connected to art at all.”

Through the class, the students learn about the Stopmotion Studio app, frames per second, and how to make people move.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is offering the workshop monthly.