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Biff and Mario is a series of brickfilms created by Andy Boyer and Dave Lennie, written by Boyer and starring Lennie. The series follows Biff Feedback and Mario Stradivarius, and their journeys in search of girls, food, or otherwise. It is one of the very earliest known brickfilm series, starting in 1989. It is also the longest-running brickfilm series, with a span of over 30 years.[1]

Main films[]

Oh Well (1989)[]

Biff and Mario embark on a quest to locate a "fabulous babe" who has been haunting their dreams.

"Oh Well clearly vaulted Biff and Mario from the hum-drummery of the Lego Space industry into instant LegoMation stardom. This short piece was the brainchild of both Andy and I, demonstrating the basics of what LegoMation was capable of. It was with this movie that we realized the value of music to help fill the long, choppily-animated gaps between dialogue lines.

For fun, I once re-edited this movie to smooth out the animation and eliminate some of the unnecessary pauses in the dialogue. The length was cut down to about half of the original length."
- Dave Lennie

TE (1990)[]

On another adventure in search of girls, Biff and Mario become wrapped up in a murder-mystery.

"Biff and Mario star in TE, a reference to something from our college days long lost. It's really two movies in one, and in hindsight we really should have split it in the obvious spot. Andy animated this one by himself over a winter break. The Garlians and Flower People make their debut appearances in this nearly 30-minute masterpiece."
- Dave Lennie

Heart of Darkness (1995)[]

...?

"Biff & Mario return in their last (so far) installment in the Biff & Mario adventures.  This movie was mostly animated by Andy in the summer of 1990, but the audio and editing were not completed until 1995. It was animated mostly in-camera; when we added the audio and credits we did it with analog editing equipment at the station. At over 28 minutes, it may not be the longest of our Lego movies, but it clearly makes the least sense. Even when watching it with Andy and I for explanations, the plot is inexplicably complex. There are seemingly hundreds of characters, many of whom pop up with no explanation as to who they are or what their role is. Major influences include Apocalypse now and Dune, amongst many other references to famous films. After completion, we vowed never to do anything that complicated ever again. Although the movie is almost impossible to follow, some of Andy's best writing is showcased here: "All I want is the simple things in life... Peanut butter, nice weather, a girlfriend who's not related to me..."

An interesting side note is that some of the people who did the voices for Heart never even met each other. Because we were not able to get everyone together at the same time, I would bring a portable deck to their house or wherever and have them cut the lines we needed. Sometimes I would read the other characters' lines as we recorded theirs so they could get a better feel for the scene.

Another technical note: Although 1995 was right about when computerized "non-linear" editing was starting to become popular, this piece was finished on an online tape-based system at WEEK. We used a still store, switcher, and a CMX edit controller to assemble the whole thing. We also used a special VTR able to roll video backwards cleanly to create the opening credits."
- Dave Lennie

Taco Trouble (2003)[]

"Appearing in their 11th brickfilm together, Biff and Mario are back in a brand-new comedic adventure. Taco Trouble is the story of Mario's quest to find his friends, Biff and Savannah. "I had breakfast with them this morning, and we agreed to meet at the park to play Scrabble. They never showed up," says Mario, his eyes full of tears. Mario soon discovers they have been captured by the somewhat-evil Doktor X.  A mysterious stranger, Queen Jane Approximately, offers her help and together she and Mario risk everything to rescue his helmeted friend and the ubiquitous young female companion. Laughter lurks in every scene."
- Andy Boyer

"''Although the file is quite large for the broadband version, we highly recommend you watch the higher-quality version of this movie. It is well worth the wait; the sound is in stereo and the mouths look much better. The large version is about 28 meg and the small version is about 4 meg.

It should be noted that this is the first feature we did with moving mouths that are added electronically during the editing process. In the past, we used a variety of different heads with different mouth shapes drawn onto them, and we would swap out the heads for each character who needed to speak as we were shooting each scene. This was messy since touching the character in any way frequently made them jump around a bit when the footage was edited together.  Our new technique is to shoot any character who speaks in a scene without a mouth at all.  We found that a pencil eraser easily removes the stock Lego mouth printed on a head. The mouths are then added as graphics overlaid onto the picture later.

This makes for easier shooting but EXTREMELY time-consuming editing. We found that the worst part was forgetting to put a head with a mouth on it onto a character who had no lines. In the editing process the standard smiley mouth had to be added to the character frame by frame as they moved around. In the end though, the result is amazing.  The mouths really add dimension and expression to the characters, and because they are graphics instead of being hand-drawn onto the heads there are many more mouth shapes possible. It's critical to use software like Final Cut or Avid that lets you "scrub" each frame of audio so you know what mouth shape to add to each frame.

One idea I had during editing was to use heads during shooting which had a tiny dot where the center of the mouth should go instead of being completely blank. This would allow better accuracy for the placement of the mouth later and keep it from drifting around the head too much. We've not yet had a chance to try that."
- Dave Lennie

Bork (2004)[]

"Being a discussion betwixt Messieurs Feedback and Strativarius in which M. Feedback lobs a surfeit of malediction upon his dining companion.  M. Strativarius attempts to cajole M. Feedback into resuming ingestion of his pharmaceuticals, with minimal success. A cheerful domestic is then castigated by M. Feedback. M. Strativarius questions the origin of his victuals, a ribald bon mot is expressed, and the pemmican is praised.

NOTICE: This film is not intended for women, children, or members of the clergy due to some profanatory language."
- Andy Boyer

Breaking News (2004)[]

"We interrupt tonight's presentation to bring you the following special report!  It doesn't need any more introduction than that.  You'll probably have to watch this one twice... once for the dialogue and again to read the news ticker at the bottom of the screen."
- Dave Lennie

Taco Trouble 2: The Trial (2021)[]

Biff and Mario are put on trial for the murders they committed in Taco Trouble. Co-produced with Seán Willis and Brian Willis, from a script originally written in 2003 by Andy Boyer.

Other films featuring Biff and Mario[]

The Original Movie (1985)[]

"This is how it all began.  My dad, who worked at the local high school, borrowed a camera from the A/V department on Memorial Day: May 27, 1985.  It was one of those two-piece models with the separate deck you carried over your shoulder.  He borrowed it in order to videotape the final Memorial Day ceremony being MC'd by an elderly family friend.  Before we left for the parade, however, I experimented with animating Legos with this simple scene.  There is no audio dubbed on this one; I was not able to do that.  Instead, in the background you can hear my little brother and later my mom playing the piano... it sounds disjointed because I was starting and stopping the deck.  Since the deck didn't have flying erase heads, the rainbow-like artifacts appear every time there is an edit.

Both Biff and Mario are in this scene, although they are wearing different hats.  When I showed this movie to Andy 4 years later, we were inspired to create Oh Well."
- Dave Lennie

America's Funniest Home Videos (1990)[]

"This is a parody of the then-popular ABC show America's Funniest Home Videos starring Bob Saget, who even today is the most untalented man on television.  There are many references to the lame jokes Bob would say while the videos were playing, and the "home videos" themselves are football-to-the-groin type of situations that could only happen to Lego people.  As a side note, the tape itself for this short was in such terrible shape that it was nearly impossible to raise an image from some scenes.  So this version is digitally remastered for your viewing pleasure."
- Dave Lennie

Medieval Times (1991)[]

"Medieval Times was a class project for Andy demonstrating how one became a knight in the Middle Ages.  It was animated entirely by Andy on his desk in our dorm room.  At this point in my college career, I finally had access to tape-to-tape style editing equipment in the Communications Department.  So the dialogue is generally much tighter, the sound effects more precise and the music mix is better.  It got an A."
- Dave Lennie

The Making of LegoMation (1994)[]

"Somehow, we had the forethought to shoot some footage while we were actually meeting about and working on the various LegoMation movies we had done.  Of course, there's not much behind-the-scenes footage of us actually animating, because we only had one camera.  But it was enough to do an E! True Hollywood Story-style cheesy documentary on some of the group dynamics at play during the production of the movies.  The Making Of... was actually produced 4 years after the original footage was shot; all the Q&A segments hosted by Amy were shot in '94 and were written specifically to fit the footage that we already had.  At this point, Andy was attending UNLV and was not locally available to participate; we instead decided to just write him into the script as having being deceased for some time."
- Dave Lennie

The Humpin' LEGOs (1995)[]

"We now jump ahead to 1995.  I'm working nights as an engineer at WEEK.  After the 10:00 news was over, we would have to pre-tape several news updates which would air overnight between programs, making it look like the station had a live anchor there at all hours of the night.  When we taped them, we would slate each one with a simple graphic so that the overnight op would know which headline was which.  I quickly learned that the slates needed a background, and that background could be used to entertain the crew and anchors.  It was for these slates that the Humpin' Legos were created."
- Dave Lennie

LEGO Slate #1 & #2 (1996)[]

"The humpers return in this pair of parodies of News 25 at Six.  These were yet more slates for post-newscast use produced by Andy and I.  They both use actual audio from a newscast... an early version of SNL's "Fun With Real Audio"."
- Dave Lennie

Johnny Cash: Were You There (2001)[]

"This has to be one of the strangest combinations of ideas we have ever done: a video to a Johnny Cash gospel song from 1963, animated with Legos.  Dave and I wanted to work on animating the mouths more, and I thought a music video would be a good way to practice.  It freed us from having to match a movie shot for shot, while still providing a structure. I'm a big Johnny Cash fan, and this song didn't have a lot of words (plus I liked the idea of doing a religious song in a straightforward manner), so it made a good choice.  My wife deemed this video as the best thing we have done so far. Please note that although we find this song to be surely amongst Johnny Cash's best, our choice does not in any way indicate our feelings towards whether or not Biff and Mario were there when the stone was rolled away."
- Andy Boyer

"Some technical notes (from Dave): I like the lighting in this one, as it's more dramatic than the flat-lit stuff we had done so far.  The three-cross shot at the beginning is cool with the wide-angle lens, and the "video wall" built into the set was actually a small LCD TV fed with various scenes from other movies as well as looping graphics.  We also experimented with electronically zooming the image during the editing process, which made for some nice smooth moves that would have been difficult to do during shooting.  The stone rolling away was done with a vacuum cleaner, and the light was a 150-watt floodlight behind the set which actually ended up melting a few of the Lego pieces in that area."
- Dave Lennie

References[]

Biff and Mario series
Oh Well (1989) · TE (1990) · Heart of Darkness (1995) · Taco Trouble (2003) · Bork (2004) · Breaking News (2004) · Taco Trouble 2: The Trial (2021)

Other: The Original Movie (1985) · America's Funniest Home Videos (1990) · Medieval Times (1991) · The Humpin' LEGOs (1995) · LEGO Slate #1 (1996) · LEGO Slate #2 (1996) · Johnny Cash: Were You There (2001)
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