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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: Brent Waller, The Creator of The X-FILES: I want to believe

"The smash-hit 90s TV show returns in LEGO form so you can piece together the global conspiracy, brick by brick." Please welcome Brent Waller and his THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE

 

ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you? 
    Brent Waller
     
  2. Where are you from?
    I’m from Brisbane, Australia.
     
  3. How old are you?
    41
     
  4. What do you do for a living?
    I'm a 3D Environment Artist and Co-Founder at 5 Lives Studios, A Video Game company here in Brisbane, Australia. We just released a game called “Windbound” last year. 
     
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    LEGO...and...LEGO
     
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    I post most of my work on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wetwired/), I've been trying to use Instagram more lately too (https://www.instagram.com/wallercustoms).
     
  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
    There’s the batcave from my last 10k Interview, which I don’t think I will ever top. But the Seasons In Time Calendar is a more recent one I’m quite proud of for being an original idea for a change. 
     
  8. How and when did your interest for LEGO products come about?
    I loved LEGO as a kid, it was my favourite toy and I'd ask for it every birthday and Christmas. As an adult I was reintroduced to it via the original LEGO Star Wars Video Games in the mid-2000s, they brought back a wave of nostalgia for LEGO. I did some searching about LEGO online and somehow discovered the LEGO Digital Designer program. As a 3D artist, it was very easy for me to pick up and use and I soon started building, one of the very first things I made was a Batmobile Tumbler from Batman Begins (This was before The Dark Knight was released) and I ended up figuring out how to use Bricklink and then ordering the parts to make it.

    That same design later became my very first submission to LEGO Ideas (back then it was called LEGO CUUSOO) and was my first Ideas project to ever reach 10,000 votes.
     
  9. What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons. 
    For me, it's a creative outlet, I've always liked creating and making things. After working on a 3D Environment at work, something that began as a hobby for me, I found it difficult to go back to that as a hobby at home.

    LEGO allowed me to make something tactile and to be creative while also being able to get away from a computer and actually pick up, feel and see the result of my creativity and show it to others.
     
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    The Modular theme has always been my favourite series, The Green Grocer was my first big LEGO set and one of the first sets I bought after coming out of my “Dark Ages”, I always have to get each new addition to the line and have occasionally made my own versions for displays at LEGO Shows.

    As a kid, I was obsessed with LEGO Police and my LEGO city should never have had any issues with a crime as the police force vastly outnumbered the civilian population!
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    If I'm being honest, it's my LEGO Ghostbusters Ideas project set from a few years back. It was a huge honor to be able to say I helped get that project made into a real set so it will always have a special place for me.

    Outside of that though it probably is another Ideas set. Voltron and Wall-E were both great, I don't tend to keep sets intact for long though as they often get pulled apart to make into something else!
     
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    My favourite piece is that fortuitous piece I only have one left of, but it's all I needed and it fits perfectly where I need it to go. I always seem to have this happen when I'm building and it gives me such a weird warm feeling that I'm on the right path with whatever I'm making when it happens.
     
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Probably Marcos Bessa because he did the official design of my Ghostbusters Ecto-1 and then did the amazing Ghostbusters firehouse follow-up.
     
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    Brothers Brick has always been my mainstay, from when I came out of my “Dark Ages” to now. I follow a bunch of local and worldwide Facebook LEGO fan groups and subscribe to the LEGO subreddit on Reddit.

     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I was obsessed with The X-Files from the moment I saw the ad for the first episode here in Australia back in 1994 when I was 14. I had a passing interest in paranormal stuff and it seemed right up my alley.

    I was hooked from the first episode and even started an X-Files fan site back in the late 90s.
     
  2. How long was the process of making the project did, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
    The project goes all the way back to 2014. I was rewatching the series and decided to make a recreation of Mulder’s office.

    I designed some minifigs of Mulder and Scully and had them professionally printed to go along with it. I posted some pictures of it on my Flickr account as I normally do with my MOCs and somehow the actress who plays Scully, Gillian Anderson saw it and had one of her assistants emailed me!

    Being a huge fan of the show this was a huge thrill to know Scully herself had seen my work. She asked if she could have a copy of the minifigs I’d made, I happily obliged under one condition, that she take a photo of herself holding them.

    She did even better than that and sent me a photo of herself and the actor who plays Mulder, David Duchovny, on set of season 10 of The X-files, in costume, holding their minifigs! 

     
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    It was a fun challenge to try and squeeze all of the little details into Mulder's office, but the biggest challenge was trying to perfect the design of the minifigs themselves, they both have such unique faces.
     
  4. If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
    I was a bit too conservative with the size I think when I first made it, LEGO Ideas was still somewhat limited in the scope of the sets that were being approved. If I was to do it again I’d make it a little bigger and build out the office a bit to include Scully’s space. 
     
  5. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
    It was so long ago that I designed it I can’t remember to be honest! The promotion took a lot more time than it took to build though.
     
  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    It’s a great feeling every time I’ve reached 10k, though you do find you get into the habit of checking in every day to see how it’s going, when it reaches 10k you tend to feel a bit lost!.  It took nearly 2 years to reach 10k. 
     
  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    It uses roughly 650 pieces.
     
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    It’s not really a technique, but I love the version of the famous “I Want To Believe” poster which I recreated in LEGO Digital Designer out of LEGO bricks.

     
  9. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    I both built the office physically and rendered it, using a combination of Lego Digital Designer, Stud.io, Mecabricks and Blender. 
     
  10. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    I used Photoshop and Illustrator for the stickers and printed designs. 

     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    For me, there are 4 elements to creating a successful Ideas project. The first is obviously the Idea itself, it needs to be something that you feel pretty strongly that more people than just yourself will like, what is it? What does it do? Can you picture it in a box on a shelf? What would someone who bought it do with it? Would they play with it? Display it on a desk? What is its purpose? In general, I refer to this as “The Hook” it can be the subject matter itself (Friends Coffee Perk, Flintstones, Wall-E, etc.), it can be a cool unique feature (Maze, Pop-Up Book) or interesting build with display potential, something someone might have on their desk that could promote discussion with anyone who saw it (Fish in a Bottle, Tree House).

    The Second factor is the build itself, are you confident you have a great idea with a “Hook”? You have to make sure your build is as good as it can be before submitting. While you can now thankfully edit Ideas projects, first impressions still count and it's best to come out on a good footing then trying to scramble and improve iteratively later.

    Third is presentation, a great idea and a fantastic build can be let down with poor presentation, if you're images and photos aren't clear and showing the build in its best light, you're doing a detriment to the hard work you've done on your build and potentially losing votes of support as people overlook your project.

    Lastly is promoting, you can easily spend 10x as much time if not more promoting your project than you did creating it. You can promote every day in every place online you can think of, however, but if your Ideas doesn't have a great hook, a good build and a solid presentation, your promotion will only go so far.

    I have seen projects succeed with poor presentation and a so-so build, but they made up for it with a great hook and good promotion, but if you can do all of them to the best of your abilities, you increase your chances greatly and hopefully, if you have done it really well, people will promote your project for you without you having to do anything.
     
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    I always create a video, I find it's a good succinct way of showing off your project and everything it's about in a short amount of time. Along with images, I share them everywhere I can think of, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. Most of my projects have been based on licenses, so I find online fan communities for them and share the videos and links there.
     
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    That’s been overlooked? most of them are all pretty good, I really liked the recent Sesame St and Winnie the Pooh sets. 
     
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    For me, I love the excitement of potential projects, even projects that aren't my own, when someone presents a new project that sells itself and you just think “I want that” and have to click support, no questions asked.  It's hard to compel someone to sign up and vote based on something you've made and presented to the world, so it's all the more special when you see someone do that for your project because you know the feeling when you see something you like and vote.

    My advice for someone who is thinking about submitting a project. Just make sure it's something you're passionate about, I feel like that comes through in the project, if you're passionate about it, you'll put in that extra effort to make the build just right and get just the right photo to use for the main project image. If you're not sure about it any step of the way, ask a friend or someone online for some honest opinions, criticism is the best tool for improvement and it will only help your project's chances.
     
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
    I have one new thing I’ve been working on in collaboration with another person. But I don’t really want to give away the idea :)
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • x-files
  • tv show
  • conspiracy
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