10K Club Interview: Meet Ryan Taggart of Modular Construction Site
As a focus puller on feature films, this week's 10K Club member Ryan Taggart, a.k.a ryantaggart, incorporated a lot of learnings from his job into his completed yet incomplete Modular Construction Site. From creating a model that afforded opportunities to create and build stories to the vast number of details that inspired possibilities of play and interaction with the model, it's no surprise that it took Ryan a while to finalise his creation before continuing his journey on LEGO Ideas.
Help us congratulate Ryan on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!
- Where are you from?
I live in Reading, Berkshire, in the UK.
- How old are you?
I’m 35 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I’m a focus puller on feature films. The focus puller, or 1st Assistant Camera technician, is responsible for the operation of the camera, be it 35mm or digital. During filming, the focus of the lens is my responsibility. As well as simply keeping things in focus on the screen, focus can be used as a story-telling device to move your eye around the screen - so timing is everything. It can be very difficult and therefore quite high pressure, but I love it. Filmmaking is a highly collaborative work environment and everyone plays a little part in what can be amazing results. I’ve been very lucky in my career to work with some amazing people and on some fantastic projects. I started as a Camera Trainee in 2000 and soon moved up to 2nd Assistant Camera Technician or ‘clapper loader’. I did this until 2014 when I decided to step up to Focus Pulling and I’ve been very lucky and continue to love what I do. You can find my profile page on the International Movie Database here.
- What hobbies do you have?
My main hobby is LEGO building and designing. With two small children and a busy home and work life I don’t do as much building as I’d like, but I look forward to sharing it all with my children as they grow up. I seem to get as much enjoyment out of the designing and ideas process as I do the build and can often take a very long time simply researching an idea to see if it will work. I love laboring over every detail. I might not produce as much as others but I am proud that there is thought behind every brick. I also enjoy photography. It was an interest in photography that led me to my career as a Camera Technician.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
When I was growing up all I wanted to play with was LEGO. I was always trying to build a bigger and better town layout. One day at secondary school we were given a project about careers. I had to write a questionnaire to be completed by a person doing the job that I’d one day like to do. I really wanted to be a LEGO Designer. At the time the park in Windsor, UK was under construction. My mum found an address for the Model Shop where the models for the park were being made: it was in Alma Road, Windsor. I sent a copy of my questionnaire and to my delight, I was invited to come down for the day and ask the questions in person. The business administrator, a man called Gary Morgan, was keen to set up work experience programs and I found myself at the front of the queue.
The following few years I completed my official school work-experience at the model shop and visited on a number of other occasions during breaks from school. It was a dream come true! I was even given official work to contribute to. A lot of the models for the California park were built in the UK but eventually the model shop was moved to the park.
A lot of the people I had met went on to do other things and as my school life moved into ‘A’ levels and college I entered my ‘dark ages’ as AFOLs refer to it. LEGO took a back seat and an interest in photography led me down a new path and into my current career. I never lost the love of LEGO however. My ‘dark ages’ seemed to coincide with a particularly difficult time for The LEGO Group but once they began to find their way again they started releasing some amazing sets and I started collecting again. Eventually I started designing my own stuff. Now I’m well known amongst my friends and work colleagues for being a LEGO fan.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
My favourite LEGO set is the Airport Shuttle from 1990 (6399-1). It’s highly sought after now and has become an iconic set, which I’m pleased to say I have. My love for it however is that I’ll never forget the Christmas I was lucky enough to get it. My parents had convinced me that being an expensive set they’d give me money towards it and if I saved hard enough I’d get it eventually. I woke up, however, on Christmas morning to find a little treasure hunt, which led to the discovery that my parents had got me the set. I am lucky to still have amazing parents who are now wonderful grandparents to my children and I will always treasure that set for the associated happy memories, and can’t wait until my children are old enough to play with it. The best sets are timeless.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
The Erling Brick: named after the LEGO Designer Erling Dideriksen. I’m sure a lot of people chose this element. The reason it’s my favourite is that all these years later I’m still discovering the brilliance of its geometry. I love that it’s now part of the LEGO Creator Expert logo, even though it was created in 1979. That says it all.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Jaime Berard. His sets are what pulled me out of my ‘dark ages’. I love this quote about his Parisian Café (2014): “It is one of the first Modular Buildings to really evolve the concept to a new level of storytelling and detailing.” – Jamie Berard, LEGO® Design Manager. I took this on board and it informs all of my ideas. Weaving a narrative into an idea gives it greater depth and makes you consider playability front and centre.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
- Brickset - I love it. Great info source, and I love having my collection data-based.
- The Brothers Brick - Some of the things that get posted on there make my offerings look like small fry.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
After completing my first two MOC modular builds I was determined to make my third even better. I took a long time to arrive upon the theme. I had been unsuccessfully building a non-descript office building and continually coming up against the same problem – if you don’t have a theme or story to tell then the build can lose its way. It was during one of the rebuilds that I suddenly realized that the building process itself was a theme to explore. I remembered all my LEGO town layouts when I was growing up in which I’d created a basic construction site with all my LEGO construction vehicles and workers. The idea developed from there.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
In order to make the build as interesting and challenging as possible, I was determined to include a variety of elements and techniques so as not to be too repetitive. I included LEGO Technic elements in the structure and LEGO Bionicle elements supporting the first floor stairwell. I am especially proud of the façade of the building above the ground floor windows where I’ve featured a large amount of S.N.O.T building. It was satisfying to complete this section whilst keeping the build ‘LEGO Legal’.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
From start to finish, including design using LEGO Digital Designer, five digital rebuilds to streamline and resolve certain sections, sourcing the bricks using Brickowl and Bricklink, and finally building and photographing, the project took about two years.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
Incredible! I’m so lucky! It’s fantastic that so many people took the time to vote for it and leave some great comments in the process. The online LEGO community is a very positive place. I added the project to the LEGO Ideas site at the end of January 2016, so it got to 10,000 very quickly - 186 days.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
I used 4174 bricks to build the project. Obviously, since then the site has set a new brick limit of 3000 on any future submissions. I’m happy that the new rules were not applied retrospectively and I am confident of two things: firstly, that with a bit of development the brick count on the project could be significantly reduced. Secondly, that I really took into consideration the amount of bricks used within the design phase. I looked at the sort of sets already available and considered the price points of a set such as this against the total number of bricks used. Using Tower Bridge 10214 as a reference point I set myself a limit of 4200 bricks. I did not just build without consideration of potential price and manufacture limits.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I’m always on the lookout for what might be my next project. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Whether that idea goes on to become a future submission to LEGO Ideas is based on a few design points: playability, cost analysis, brand fit, the lack of intellectual property, and the absence of anything inappropriate like weapons. The most important thing is that you have fun designing and building it. If you do, others might too.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
My favorite LEGO Ideas project has to be the Apollo 11 Saturn-V rocket, by Saabfan and whatsuptoday. It moved into review before I even had a chance to support it! I can’t wait to see the set. The idea of LEGO and NASA as a brand combination is an inspiration powerhouse and I hope to see more NASA projects in the future.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?The Modular Construction Site was the first of my own creations that I felt had what it takes to be a LEGO set. The site is very straightforward and open to anyone. If I had to give tips to anyone thinking of uploading an idea it would be: would you want to buy it if you saw it in the LEGO store? Do you think a person in the target age range of the idea would want to play with it? Is it a fun build? Does it fit within the LEGO brand?
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