Alice: LEGO Adventure in Wonderland

Baron von Brunk’s Alice: A LEGO Adventure in Wonderland! This is an incredibly ambitious project that I’ve chiseled away at since 2016, and sadly has been stuck in production hell!

Background: in 2016, LEGO introduced a new line of collectible minifigures for various Disney characters. Since I’m a fan of classic Walt Disney animations – specifically Alice in Wonderland – I was eager to seek these new collectible figures, especially Alice and the Cheshire Cat! After getting these new minifigs at last, I was then struck with a proverbial lightning bolt of inspiration to boldly go where no von Brunk has gone before: to create stop-motion animations! As outlined in my YouTube COPPA video from late 2019, I discussed this particular backstory a few times. In a nutshell, a long, long time ago when I was in my teens, I always dreamed of making stop-motion LEGO animations, but sadly lacked the means at the time. But by 2016, I decided to rekindle this prior fascination for animation, and thus this surge of creativity started by obtaining Alice in Wonderland minifigs!

Although my Alice in Wonderland animation concept started off small and simple, after much consideration I kept on adding more and more ideas, until the whole project bloated itself into a potential feature length animation. Essentially I just wanted to originally just make a simple parody of a certain scene of the Disney movie, but after retooling I decided to make a long video based on both the original Lewis Carroll material as well as the Disney animation. This new project became an elaborate and intense story similar to the Fractured Fairy Tales from Rocky & Bullwinkle – but for some of you younger fans, you can consider my LEGO Alice movie to be like the Shrek series – as in, a huge compilation of multiple fairy tale ideas combined into one singular narrative!

Publicity shot of my Alice in Wonderland characters from early 2017, when I began working on the production. Let’s rock.

To separate my idea from the countless film adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s books, I re-imagined the story by incorporating new concepts and satirical parodies, as almost like a fresh reboot of the Alice in Wonderland lore. I gradually came up with ideas throughout the summer/fall of 2016, notably the ideas for characters and plot elements in the video. All throughout social media I hinted at my film’s plot and climax by releasing photos of my articulated Wonderland Card Warriors, as well as various small vignettes of my Alice minifigure in random settings. It wasn’t until the start of 2017 that I officially broke ground for this movie by completing the script, getting DragonFrame software, and learning of the basics of stop-motion animation.

Unfortunately I was extremely busy in my personal life at the time – mainly because of my troublesome job situation – and couldn’t afford more equipment to start the production. Nonetheless I worked on props and puppets to be used in the video, including The Hatter, March Hare, Queen of Hearts, and King of Hearts. You’ll notice usage of these characters was the first time I used LEGO bobble head puppets for animation concepts. When initially sketching out the idea for this video, I was going to make custom minifigures of all of the characters, but on further brainstorming I decided to make all of the characters (except Alice herself) wonky bobble heads! This allowed me to be more creative with character design, and didn’t restrict me to using preexisting LEGO minifigure parts.

2nd revision of The Duchess puppet, which was designed to resemble a girl I matched with on Tinder who dressed as Frida Khalo for Halloween. My original Duchess puppet wasn’t grotesque enough, so I made this one to be truly terrifying!

Finally in spring 2017, I had a new job which meant new laptop, new photography gear, new workspace, but above all, finally being able to record the first animation tests. The hours were part-time only, but I sacrificed money for free time, so to speak. I started with making simple animation tests of The Hatter and March Hare, and then hastily jumped into recording the opening and ending scenes of the final video simultaneously. During the summer of 2017, since I was only working a few days a week at this part-time job, this allowed me more free time to animate and build sets, thus I slowly recorded the majority of footage from various scenes. This was until around autumn when I hit another obstacle: I lost that part-time job, but soon landed a new job at Goldman Sachs.

Although I had a better source of income, sadly this new job was extremely stressful and had long hours, which hindered further production. I managed to shoot a few more scenes by the end of the year, but this job was already taking its toll on me. Essentially I spent the duration of 2018 either working, sleeping, or getting stuck on New York transit trains – with only barely having minimal time to chisel away at this project on the weekends. The overnight schedule was making me permanently lethargic, which made the animation process a hectic chore.

Exterior model of the White Rabbit’s house, which was specially designed to collapse. This destruction scene took a month to animate.

Some of the scenes I worked on in summer 2018 were extremely difficult to animate, and sometimes required entire weeks just to construct set designs. These included scenes of the Caterpillar as well as the exterior destruction of the White Rabbit’s house – which were shot extensively in that summer/fall. I had to take a break after completing the scene of the White Rabbit’s house, and instead focused on various other video projects in order to grow my channel. I ran into more issues in my personal life (mainly job/house related), and therefore haven’t picked up any additional shooting of my Alice in Wonderland video since approximately September 2018. Since then, I decided to make several other animation projects to pad out my YouTube channel, which is why I never picked the Alice video back up during 2019. As of the time of this article in March 2020, I don’t know when I’ll resume animation of the project, but I can probably estimate that about 75% of the raw footage has been shot over the previous few years. This movie was left in production hell for so long that I’ve had to recast some of the key voice actors, because we’ve cut off ties in real life!

I know I keep saying that I seriously want to finish this video, but I’m always running into obstacles such as long work hours, stressful commute times, and horrible housing situations. Hopefully we can get this thing finished by the end of 2020 – for real this time.

In a world of my own.