Building a cinematic universe with Lego

Art comes in all forms, and for one Heartland man, it's Legos. He's using them as the building blocks of his cinematic universe
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:18 PM CDT
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METROPOLIS, Ill. (KFVS) - “I think for myself personally, I definitely see myself as more of the artist type.”

Nathaniel Henley and Legos click.

“I’ll watch something, I’ll go, that was awesome and then that’s enough for me to like okay I’m going to make a new movie now because I saw that one,” he explained.

He creates stop-motion Lego animations at his home in Metropolis, Illinois.

“When I was in fourth grade, I got stop motion software for Christmas, I’d been watching a lot of YouTube videos of people making stop motion videos and I certainly had a plethora of Legos to accommodate us and I just kept making them and posting them to YouTube.”

He showed us videos from his work in 2010, which would only be the beginning for him.

In college, he’d win a best animation award for his 30-minute Lego animation called, “Batman: Identity Crisis.”

“Thirty minutes took two years to make, and consistently, not like taking breaks, I was consistently working on it every single night, and usually if I have nothing going on in that day, I will no joke spend about 8 hours animating a day.”

He said animating takes about 70 percent of his production time.

But he said each click, shot, and removement isn’t really work for him, “cause it doesn’t feel like 600 hours, it feels like I’ve got a good video that I’m proud of.”

Which he shares with friends and family online.

“Then it clicks, then people say, ‘oh, that’s why you’ve been locked up in your room for two years.’”

He created a short animation of Jeffrey Bullard that showed him jumping into his next story, kind of like how easy it is for him to dive into a new project.

“You can do anything with it, you can do a comedy, you can do a musical, it is it’s own genre of film,” he explained.

“Lego, toys and animation and stuff are not exclusively for kids anymore, there’s a whole world of literal money making jobs that involve animating.”

And while money is nice, it’s more of a way for him to release stress.

“For me this is like my art medium, you know, this is no different than when an artist or painter goes to paint on a canvas. They each have their own specific medium or their own style, and this is just my way of doing this.”