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SDCC 2017: Lego Scooby-Doo! Blowout Beach Bash

 

Ethan Spaulding, the director, was new to Lego when he took on Lego Scooby-Doo! Blowout Beach Bash.

In this Scooby story, the gang is at the beach to relax and of course, stumble onto a mystery that involves a mummy and ghost pirates all attending a Coolest Kids party in a beach town that used to be a buccaneer hideaway. Velma and Fred take on the role of the cool kids and even change their clothes!  Wardrobe changes!  How exciting! It rarely happens.  And watch out for Easter eggs, especially with some of the paintings in the hotel.

Scooby Doo and the gang is timeless and iconic and has existed for generations. Spaulding thinks it’s due to the characters’ humanity: “Each character is clearly defined, like their personality. I think you can see a little bit of yourself in each character.” The characters have also evolved over time – Scooby did not really speak back in the seventies, but now, he says all sentences, making him even more relatable and in a way, sophisticated, according to Spaulding.

When it comes to created animated Lego universes, the rules are strict. Only existing bricks can be used in animation – the director can’t come up with a new shape, size, or colour out of necessary, “If there is an explosion, the bricks can’t physically break. Everything is very toycentric. Exactly like the toys are, we have to replicate… A brick cannot be two colours… The most we can do is stickers.” Indeed, the animation has to follow the toys exactly. If you had every brick used in an animated film, you could recreate every scene, shot by shot. “Our designers are Lego maniacs. Our background designer on this project had Lego on his desk…  The pirate ship… the lounge… He used all the actual Lego pieces to build that.”

Another rule is that “characters can’t be seen building anything out Lego, so when they do, it’s like a slight of hand, off camera.” “Lego doesn’t want to see a character physically pick up a brick in DC Girls… all the assets have to be built in CGI… almost like live action.”

As far as character development, they “keep the chore of the characters the same and just accented with the Legocentric tropes… I think the characters are great. I love the Scooby universe…” “They’re iconic. Their personalities are distinct and I think each generation discovers Scooby and introduces it to their kids and I think it goes from there.”

Spaulding does prefer directing series to movies as “it’s long term… you can sink your teeth into it more. It’s a longer project so you can think about more in the long run, I think… With a movie, it’s faster… it’s a little bit of a race to make sure that you get everything in there.”

Rick Morales, the producer, is no newcomer to animation, the DCverse, or Lego.  He has directed several animated flicks, including Batman vs. Two-Face, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, Lego Scooby-Doo! Haunted Hollywood, Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Cosmic Clash as well as numerous TV series.

He has not only produced Lego Scooby-Doo! Blowout Beach Cash, but also Lego DC Super Hero Girls: Brain Drain, shorts, and two other Lego Scooby-Doo! movies and shorts and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 2014 for Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program for Beware the Batman.

He is also an acclaimed storyboard artist since 2002 and has worked on a multitude of animated movies and TV shows like Ultimate Spider-Man (TV Series), Batman: Assault an Arkham (Video), Scooby-Doo! WresleMania Mystery (Video), and even the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (TV Series)!

According to Rick, one of the bigger challenges of working on a Lego movie is “to get everybody around thinking about the things that Lego can and can’t do.” Whether or not Lego characters can be seen building this depends on the specific rules that apply to the studios. Indeed, characters are seen building in Lego Star Wars, but can’t been see building in Lego Scooby.

When we asked Rick why he thought Scooby had lasted almost a half of a century, he replied “I don’t know… Honestly, I think it’s … I think there must be something in there that people identify with… I think they’re such a diverse group of characters as far as their mentality and how they approach the world, what they think about, that there is something that everybody can identify with. And I think Scooby is … kind of one of these transcendent pop culture figures at this point.”

I asked Rick how he and the crew managed to bridge the gap between Scooby’s squeaky clean humour and Lego’s more racy adult humour; he had this to say, “We didn’t really have to go that far with that adult side of things. It was to really keep it really classic Scooby in its nature.  And then, kind of simply let the Lego part of it, the design esthetic, the way that they move, the things that they can do with their physicality, be the kind of injected new aspect. I think what you find is that it is very classic Scooby at the end of the day.”

The cast includes Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Grey Griffin as Daphne Blake and the Ghost of Bingo Bell, Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo and Fred Jones, and Kate Micucci as Velma Dinkley.

Matthew Lillard started voicing Shaggy in 2002 and took over the role when Casey Kasem, the original Shaggy, retired in 2009. He has also guest starred in numerous TV shows, including House, Criminal Minds, and Twin Peaks. He is still surprised that he has remained Shaggy for fifteen years, “I called Warner Brothers after the movie at some point and told them, In case Casey is done doing the voice, I would love to be considered as his replacement.”

Matthew has truly honored Casey Kasem’s legacy in playing Shaggy. “I will say that I feel it is my responsibility to care-take the character and that’s why when it comes to the feature, it makes me hugely disappointed to think that they would go with somebody else because I feel like I’m… doing everything I can to protect… I understand when they move on, they move on, but I hope that they don’t. That they give me a chance to stay the character.”

Matt’s career is strange as he is not pigeonholed as an actor. ”That said, I like it (having a strange career). I get to do this crazy moment in Twin Peaks that was the hardest scene I’ve ever done in my life and I still come back… I can do Shaggy the next day… I have a very wide spectrum of a career.”  As far as keeping Shaggy fresh, Matt said: “I think that the challenge is to keep representing Casey.” He will look for old Scooby Doo episodes on TV and has made an audio file of Casey to listen to it once in a while when he needs to hear Casey’s Shaggy again.  His goal is to be true to Casey’s portrayal more than to keep the character fresh. “I will always find my flavor of the character,” he concluded.

Grey Griffin has been the voice of Daphne since 2001 and has been releasing albums since 2000. She has worked in animation since her time on Rugrats in 1996 and made her live action TV debut on that ‘70s Show in 1997. She has voiced characters in almost 200 film, episodes, and video games over her career so far. She greets us laughing, after being introduced as having been Daphne for 144 years, “Are you the original Daphne?  People ask me if I am the original Daphne, which I take as a huge insult… that was done before I was born!”

Grey is absolutely delightful. She is warm and friendly and does the best voices.  She also is one hell of a singer and her version of Holy Night is breathtaking. She sadly stopped putting out music back in 2007; she became a mom and no longer had time to tour, but she still records a song here and there, so be on the lookout for those.

She has taken on Daphne’s role and in this latest film, has let Daphne go wild. When she first got the role, she felt she had to be very reverent and truly wanted to preserve Daphne’s original voice: “I still want to preserve the voice, but after a while, you get a lot more comfortable putting … a lot of my little things have slipped in. It’s been almost 20 years I’ve been playing the character, so … a lot of me has gone in there. And I’m a basket-case, so…. I’m loving it.” Daphne is no longer the boring fashionista she started as. “She is not an arm-piece.”

And as Daphne evolved, so did Velma, who got to be “the cute one too… people getting crushes on her now.”  Lego Daphne will, of course, be a bit different from the TV series Daphne: “There is (sic) a lot of little Lego jokes in the movie.” Lego movies always contain more risqué adult humour and Grey believe this is because “everybody has been loving Lego for so long … adults are kind of interested too, watching with their kids… they’re keeping the parents interested.” Grey openly admits she is a risqué person, who is “not safe for children,” so being able to play Daphne in the Lego universe was right up her alley.  And as far as Fred and Daphne?  Grey feels he is just not good enough for her.  She is such a romantic and he is not. He just doesn’t go that deep – he is too shallow.

Kate Micucci is better known as half of the Garfunkel and Oates comedy duo, but her acting experience includes Scrubs and Raining Hope amongst a myriad of roles in tv and films as well as voice work in Steven Universe, Milo Murphy’s Law, Nature Cat, and DuckTales. She first voiced Velma in Haunted Hollywood in 2016 and has since worked on Scooby-Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon, Shaggy’s Showdown, and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo, and Scooby-Doo Lego Shorts.

Frank Welker has been Fred’s voice since 1969 in every single series and movie (except for  A pup Named Scooby-Doo) and has played both Scooby and Fred since 2002.

 

 

 

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