What happens when ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ meets LEGO Bricks? Just like a well written play this design had a great plotline and character, beginning with a passionate designer.
Not every project ends up the way it begins. In fact, sometimes an idea goes through a complete transformation before it becomes a finished design. Luka Inaudi’s rendition of Jonathan Larson’s apartment, as seen in the film ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ – based on the eponymous autobiographical stage play by Larson himself – is a great example.
Luka is a big fan of Andrew Garfield so the movie was naturally a must-watch for him – and after having seen it, it’s safe to say he’s now a Jonathan Larson fan as well. ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ is the story of that young composer, the creator of Rent, who tragically died shortly before seeing his greatest work performed onstage. Garfield’s academy award-nominated turn as Larson is set in the apartment where he laboured over his keyboard – a setting that Luka was inspired to translate into a LEGO model.
Originally, Luka planned to create a full diorama of the entire film set as a commemoration of Jonathan Larson’s birthday, but shortly after getting underway, the project began to transform. We realized this model would be an amazing opportunity to create a potential licensed set, but a full-scale version would be too large, so the curtain rose on the process of reducing it to a vignette of just the right size.
Luka’s top priority was to focus on the essential elements of the scene, to create a set that would resonate with fans of ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ and Jonathan Larson himself. Sometimes less is more, so he zeroed in on the most important area – the corner where Larson had carved out his intimate workspace. It took several iterations, each time narrowing down further, until Luka had achieved the perfect scope, and a design that could potentially become an affordable set.
Of course, focusing on the essentials doesn’t mean forgetting about the details, and once again, Luka’s passion for the project had an opportunity to shine. Putting his graphic design skills to use, he developed custom artwork for printed tiles, including a ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ script poster to hang on the wall, as well as a corkboard for the desk area, complete with a pinned photo based on an actual picture of Jonathan Larson – but fittingly converted into minifigure format.
With some elegantly designed furnishings the vignette was finished, but the greatest reward came well after the curtain call. Playwell Bricks had sent a copy of the completed set to Larson’s family. It felt like the right thing to do, and the best way to honour Larson’s legacy. And while we hoped the gesture would be appreciated, we were surprised all the same to receive a handwritten thank-you letter from Julie Larson expressing how much they loved seeing her brother’s apartment rendered in LEGO!
From a full-scale diorama, to a small vignette fit to become a Playwell Bricks set, to a personal thank-you from Jonathan Larson’s family – the journey of the ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ apartment was an exciting one. This was a real passion project for Luka, and that passion proved contagious to the rest of the team as well! We hope it’s a fitting tribute to the life and work of Jonathan Larson, and to the filmmakers who brought his story to the silver screen.
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