‘Lego Masters’ EPs Anthony Dominici & Will Arnett On Their Meta Celebration Of Out-Of-The-Box Creativity

'Lego Masters' host Will Arnett with executive producer Anthony Dominici
Michael Buckner/Shutterstock

With Lego Masters, executive producers Anthony Dominici and Will Arnett aimed to champion artists in the Lego world, bringing a new kind of creative outlet to the reality competition space.

“When I signed on, I couldn’t have been more excited. It’s right up my alley. I’ve been a Lego fan for years, and the show is all about creativity, and really thinking outside the box, in a lot of ways,” Dominici says. “So, putting a show together like that was really a dream come true.”

For Arnett, who also serves as host, the series represented a natural career progression, given his longtime involvement with the Lego Movie franchise. “Lego has been such a huge part of my life for the last 10 years, which is a sentence I never thought I’d say, and it just seemed like such a natural fit for me,” he says. “Having been witness to so many great Lego creations over the years through the films, I just thought, ‘Well, this is going to be a really cool way to bring this Lego-building community to a bigger audience.’”

Will Arnett in 'Lego Masters'
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Premiering on Fox in February, Lego Masters brings teams of Lego builders together for a rigorous series of creative challenges, the goal being to create “inspiring, complex constructions” out of countless Lego bricks, which are aesthetically compelling, and also tell a story.

The series is based on a format previously established in Australia and the UK. “Basically, we had a great template to start from, from the UK and the Australian format. But of course, to make an American version, we always wanted to make it bigger and better, and make it really feel like a network show,” Dominici says, of the series’ development. “So, very early on in the conversation, it was about, ‘Okay, how do we make our set look bigger? How do we add elements to the series to give us all kinds of Easter eggs and fun stuff, sort of like the vibe of the Lego movies?’”

For Dominici, one way to set the American version of Lego Masters apart was to create stop-motion animated segments and 3D graphics, which would showcase each team’s final build in a powerful way. “We were really excited about that, because that’s something that I had never seen before, certainly on reality TV. But it was a way to get into the builders’ heads, and really see how they saw the world, in a lot of ways,” he says. “Because we never wanted to make the show about just building these plastic bricks. It’s about finding ways to express yourself, finding different things so that everyone can get the same assignment, but interpret it in a completely different way.”

'Lego Masters'
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

In casting the series, Dominici’s goal was to gather as diverse a group of build teams as possible, whose building style were equally distinctive. “Luckily online, there are a lot of very robust Lego communities, of all different types, on Reddit and everything, and there’s also many conventions, ” he says. “We had a very in-depth casting process of finding people online, [exploring] every possible way that you could find that cast, like word of mouth, engineering schools, anything.”

Narrowing down the list of prospective teams to 50, the EP then brought them out to LA for a series of in-person tests. “Because a lot of times when these folks go to conventions, they might be building a project, and they could literally build it for a year or so in their garage,” he explains. “We had to make sure that people could build stuff in 15 or 18 hours that is big, and exciting, and something that you want to watch on TV.”

To ensure that Lego Masters was a compelling watch, Dominici and his team also spent a great deal of time, considering challenges for the Lego build teams that would be memorable. “Again, [it was], how do we think outside of the box? Because Lego is not [about] just a straight build of something,” he says. “We always wanted to make sure there was a twist, and something a little bit different in the whole process.”

Taking “a few germs of ideas” from the other Lego Masters series, Dominici derived most of the challenges for the American version, through conversation with his fellow producers, as well as Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard, well-known Lego designers who serve as the series’ judges. “And we did a lot of testing. There were a few things that we tested that we were really excited about that like, ‘Oh, it’s hard to do that in this amount of time, or build it in a certain way.’ So, we had a whole team of people who were just testing the challenges, as well, making sure that we can deliver,” he says. “Because with a limited production schedule, we need to make sure that the results, that were not pre-produced in any way, ended up being exciting, interesting, great builds.”

'Lego Masters'
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Looking back on Season 1 now, Dominici finds that the challenges of producing Lego Masters are far greater than one might expect. “It’s a surprisingly difficult logistic, because there are literally 3.3 million Lego bricks on set—and crazy enough, that’s not enough,” he laughs. “You’d think that would be enough, but a lot of times, after an episode was done, many of the builds actually had to get recycled and brought back into the brick pit.”

For the EP, one of the major highlights of working on the series has been his collaboration with Arnett. “That guy is unbelievable. He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever worked with, honestly. He’s so funny. So much of what you see on the show is not scripted,” Dominici says. “It’s just us letting Will run loose in the build room on stage, and letting him have a lot of fun.”

Coming onto Lego Masters, Arnett decided to lean into a meta hosting style, routinely referencing reality TV beats in a deadpan style. “I think from day one, because I was such a novice at hosting, and I didn’t understand, or maybe even appreciate how hard that is, I kind of started calling it out as I was doing it, and that just became part of the deal. We want this show to be natural and organic in that way, and then when I started dong that, Fox was very supportive. They were like, ‘Just be you,’” he recalls. “I thought that by extension, I’m kind of a member of the audience, in that way, because I’m not a judge, I’m not an expert. So, I’m there really to be a cheerleader, like everybody at home.”

For the Lego Masters host, one of the great pleasures of the series is the fact that it can be viewed with the whole family—and therefore, it’s one he can enjoy with his own kids. “My kids still are avid Lego fans and builders. It’s a big part of our playing, and learning, and building our life here at home, and that’s not just because of my involvement. That’s just because of kids’ inherent love for Lego, and how it inspires kids to build different things,” he says. “It’s just been an awesome, synchronistic thing that happened with my kids loving it, and me getting to be part of it in so many different ways. So, to be able to do something like that, that my kids are really, genuinely interested in, is definitely gratifying on a whole other level.”

Production on Season 1 left Arnett with a whole new degree of reverence for the art form of Lego, and the people who work within it. “There’s an element of engineering there that I hadn’t really appreciated before. But also these contestants, we gave them challenges, and gave them a direction to go, and so many times, they just came up with such interesting, creative builds,” he says. “Constantly, I was put in the position of thinking, ‘I don’t think I’d come up with that. Wow, what a great idea.’”

While Arnett has The Lego Batman Movie 2 coming up in 2022, both he and Dominici are excited about the future of Lego Masters. “We learned so much on Season 1—how to physically produce the show, but also the tone of the show. We had a blast. I have never laughed on set so much as I’ve laughed working with Will, because he’s that guy, off and on camera, 100% of the time. He’s like a little, misbehaved kid, running around doing stuff,” Dominici says. “So, we learned a lot about the tone, and how to edit the show. But we also learned a little bit about what we can do, and how we can stretch the limits of how the show works. So, I think in a Season 2, it would just get bigger and better, and we’ll have a lot more fun with that. And obviously for the production side, we’ll be more efficient.”

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2020/06/lego-masters-eps-anthony-dominici-will-arnett-fox-interview-news-1202963998/