Tai Freligh interviews this week’s eliminated LEGO Masters contestants…
Hosted by actor and producer Will Arnett, season two of LEGO Masters airs every Tuesday (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX, bringing imagination, design and creativity to life when teams of LEGO enthusiasts go head-to-head, with infinite possibilities and an unlimited supply of LEGO bricks. Once again, teams of two will compete against each other in even more ambitious brick-building challenges – including an earthquake tower challenge, a demolition derby, a LEGO fashion show and more – to be crowned the country’s most talented amateur LEGO builders. Each week, Flickering Myth’s Tai Freligh will be chatting with the eliminated contestants. This week Tai talks with Dave and Richard about their time on the show, lessons learned and more about the build that ended their time on the show.
Talk about auditioning for the show and what it was like to get selected?
Dave: My wife and I auditioned for season one after a casting director reached out to me. We figured a married couple was a pretty good team dynamic. We made it all the way to the casting finals but ultimately didn’t make the cast. Because of the pandemic, my wife decided that she didn’t want to apply for season 2, but encouraged me to. Several builders in the LEGO community reached out to me but I didn’t feel that any of them were the right fit. I ended up applying as an individual but didn’t hear anything back. In late December I got a message from Richard on Instagram asking if I would consider partnering up with him. We had previously connected in June over the Black Lives Matter Build I posted and he had written about one of my recent builds for a LEGO blog. I looked over his social media and felt such an immediate connection. We had a 2 hour phone conversation the next day and found so many similarities in our personal history and life philosophies. We spent so much time just talking on the phone leading up to casting finals that it felt like we had been friends for years. I think that trust in each other really helped our casting process and ultimately helped us become part of the show.
Richard: Throughout my career in journalism, I have written about a ton of different subjects. Last year, I spent a lot of time reading and learning about so many of the skilled builders in the LEGO community for a LEGO fan blog. I became a contributor and started to immerse myself in a lot of the language and techniques used by these builders. A casting producer reached out to me after reading some of my articles. I didn’t think it was real at first. I thought someone was scamming me. I applied as an individual, but needed a teammate. I did a little bit of research, but all it took was one phone call with Dave to seal the deal. We had instant chemistry because of our shared values on fatherhood, and growing up with similar interests in music, sports, and activism, just to name a few. All we needed was a little bit of time to build together. When it came down to the casting finals, I boarded my first flight to Chicago since the 2020 lockdown. I finally met Dave in person, and we did a couple of rounds of building. We felt great about what was ahead.
What was your experience like being on the show?
Dave: When you’re young, many people have free time to explore their interests and take deep dives into passionate projects. As you get older relationships, work and family take up more and more of your time. Being on the show was revitalizing, particularly during a year of isolation. We were given the biggest playground, with the most toys, peers to inspire us, an environment designed to optimize creativity by the extraordinary crew, and expert critiques from the Brickmasters. Rarely in life is anyone allowed to follow their passion at such a high level and it was an honor to be part of that collective experience.
Richard: Just getting selected for the show was an achievement. It reaffirmed all of my creative strengths in a public forum. This one-of-a-kind experience gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, which is also a privilege, to be in a room full of builders that share the same amount of excitement for LEGO. Through that process, we were constantly learning from each other. Knowing that we had practically a bottomless supply of LEGO elements, we felt confident in building creations that had relatable themes, and that could live on outside of the show.
What build are you most proud of?
Dave: None of our builds were perfect, but I learned something from every one of them. Rather than a single build, I’m most proud of our entire oeuvre and the fact that we were able to infuse each build with personal and/or intentional messages and that many builds stretched the limits of creative thinking.
Richard: Every build is memorable. We put a lot of thought into our builds to have a purpose greater than ourselves. They’re all so different individually, but as a whole they represent a diverse body of work.
Tell us what you were trying to do with the build that ended up getting you eliminated?
Dave: As a team we were often rewarded for thinking outside the box, our Make and Shake, Demolition Derby, and Bricking Wind builds were all drastically different from those of our peers. We wanted to infuse our hybrid creature, POCO, with not just personality, but a story that would tell itself. I feel we accomplished that and made not just a great LEGO build but also a compelling new character. In my experience art that stretches the limit of the material and the imagination are those that resonate best with an audience.
Richard: Once we combined our builds, we set out to have a lot of fun making our character POCO come alive. Dave’s penguin morphing with my coral was a seamless blend of land and sea creatures. We wanted the pink and orange colors to make a splash on the penguin’s black and white skin. This new creature made its way into our world and found a new life busking on the street as a punk rocker. This was not just a combination of land and sea, but a blend of our musical tastes in punk and indie rock.
What lessons will you take with you from your time on the show with the judges?
Dave: When I was growing up, I loved building with LEGO and drawing, so everyone told me I should be an architect. I ended up going to architecture school, but ultimately switched majors halfway through because I had a hard time reconciling the critiques of the professors with my own beliefs. Being on LEGO Masters was definitely a reminder of those critiques. Ultimately the Brickmasters decide what builds they think are the best and what builders they think should carry on in the competition. While I don’t always agree with the decisions the Brickmasters make, I know they are experts who have worked at a high level for a very long time and I respect their knowledge and experience. I am absolutely proud of every build we made. Going back to my kindergarten classroom I hope to recognize the creative problem solving that students are doing rather than looking for one concrete and uniform approach.
Richard: I’m used to producing work that is viewed under a microscope. When I DJ, playing good songs with unique transitions get a rise out of the audience. Unfortunately, all it takes is one song to clear the dancefloor, and you’re getting booed. The same goes with my other passion for cooking. Two of my biggest critics are in my household. That said, I felt like I had a pretty thick skin going into LEGO Masters. In any case, whether it’s through baked goods or building LEGO, the critiques pushed me to do better. I know that the Brickmasters believed in our abilities. There were a few check-ins where I didn’t fully agree with some of their critiques. However, throughout our creative process in each episode, we made conscious decisions to prep our builds for the Brickmasters. This was a valuable lesson in presentation. I respect the guidance and direction of the Brickmasters, especially because I’m sure their work has been scrutinized, dissected, chopped, and screwed. It all comes with the territory. I’m grateful for my time on the show that has made me a more thoughtful and careful individual.
Hosted by actor and producer Will Arnett, Season Two of LEGO Masters premiered Tuesday, June 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX, bringing imagination, design and creativity to life when teams of LEGO enthusiasts go head-to-head, with infinite possibilities and an unlimited supply of LEGO bricks. Once again, teams of two will compete against each other in even more ambitious brick-building challenges – including an earthquake tower challenge, a demolition derby, a LEGO fashion show and more – to be crowned the country’s most talented amateur LEGO builders. In each episode, Arnett, alongside expert Brickmasters and LEGO employees Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard, will encourage the builders, introduce incredible challenges and put their creativity and skills to the test. The competing pairs who impress the Brickmasters the most will progress to the next round, until the finale, during which the top teams will face off for a $100,000 cash prize, the ultimate LEGO trophy and the grand title of LEGO MASTERS.
Tai Freligh is a Los Angeles based writer and can be followed on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram and can be found on his website too.
PHOTO CREDITS: FOX