Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Power Team Guy in Movies: Interview with Philip C. Lane

Longtime doll and action figure enthusiasts may recall seeing Philip C. Lane's fun and action-packed videos starring M&C Power Team members as well as other action figures. I came across my DVD of Storm Cloud and decided to contact him. He graciously provided this interview.

PhillyCollector: What inspired you to create playscale videos? Why did you begin?

Philip Lane: I have to admit that I got the idea from a friend who is a huge G.I. Joe collector. He and his brother had made a movie using their Joe's. They didn't use stop-motion but moved the figures with their hand just off camera. It was very cool to watch and gave me the inspiration to do one too. I wanted my movie to make it seem the figures were really coming to life and I decided stop-motion was the way to go. Only thing, I had never done stop-motion before. So I did some research and practiced. A lot.

PhillyCollector: How long have you been creating action figure videos?

Philip Lane: I started my first movie in around 2001, so for 11 years now.

PhillyCollector: How did you decide to use playscale action figures? As opposed to smaller or larger figures?

Philip Lane: It just made sense to me to use that scale for the ease of animating. Plus at that time there are plenty of accessories available such as furniture, clothes, and vehicles.

PhillyCollector: How did you gain the permission to use M&C Toys, Dragon, etc. figures from the manufacturers? (Mattel is notoriously jealous of Barbie.)

Philip Lane: That's a funny story. I contacted a lot of American Companies along with M&C Toys, Dragon, and Lanard. All the American companies said no, but the other above mention companies all said yes. One of them even sent me a small truck load of free toys. I promised I would never reveal who it was. So please don't ask.

PhillyCollector: How do you go about creating a video? Do you start with a story in mind or do you get inspiration from the figures? 

Philip Lane: I do have figures that I really want to use, so the figures do play apart in the inspiration. But only in the way that it would be cool to them animated. I usually start with an outline first that my long time friend and writer Christopher Valin helps me with. He helps me gather my thoughts and work on a plot. Once that is completed, I write the script which is based off the outline. I also start recording the voices for the parts from all the actors once the script is finished.

PhillyCollector: How long does it take to create an hour long video?

Philip Lane: It took me over two years to make my first movie (Storm Cloud Anti Terrorist Operations) and it was about 35 minutes long. My second Movie (Storm Cloud Revenge, Truth, & Glory) took about 4 years and was 1 hour 17 minutes long. My third movie (Heroes Faith I) took about six years and is 2 hours 35 minutes long.

PhillyCollector: What is hardest to do when you choreograph scenes? I LOVE how I can recognize certain martial arts techniques performed by your figures like roundhouse kicks, etc.?

Philip Lane: It really isn't that hard to me. I just try to think what happens next. The hardest part, which is also the most fun, is to make the characters execute the moves. It's very time intensive. A fight scene can take hours if not days to shoot. I take lots of breaks.

PhillyCollector: Did you ever have martial arts training? What knowledge or background inspires or helps your fight scenes?
Philip Lane: I did take some martial art when I was a kid and again when I was in the military. I also let movie fight scenes inspire me too. But only if they are done well. I only like the fight scenes where the camera pulls back and lets you see, what I like to call "The Dance". You get to see all the moves clearly. I hate when the director puts the camera so close it's hard to see the moves.

PhillyCollector: Are there specific books or websites that you would recommend for people interested in following in your video-creating footsteps?
Philip Lane: The first site I found was There, I would look up the answers to my questions. The first question I had was how do I make a figure jump? I found the answer there. In fact I found two different answers and went with the one that was going to work for me. The best way I would recommend is just do it. Practice is a must. Also watch other videos and see what's being done. You can also ask questions, if the other film makers are will to write you back.
PhillyCollector: How do you create your backgrounds?
Philip Lane: I use to be a comic book artist and drawing background was something I really enjoyed. My goal with the movies, is to always make them believable. I build them using either foam core board or masonite and usually build at least three walls for filming.

PhillyCollector: Will you be writing a book or creating a website detailing how to make animated videos of action figures?

Philip Lane: At this time I have no plans to do that. I'm too busy wanting to make the next movie. 

PhillyCollector: Is there anything you would like to add about creating videos?
Philip Lane: At first it was all about entertainment and making money, but after reading a book called Purpose Drive Life by Rick Warren, I now make films that utilized my God given passion for action figure and movie making to try and teach people about the Love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a lot of bad and misinformation about God and the Bible and I want to present an accurate portrayal of both and God's Love and Salvation plan. I want everyone to experience how awesome it is to know God and learn that He loves them even more and has a plan for all our lives.

PhillyCollector: What is the best way to contact you for those wanting to learn more about you and your works

Philip Lane: The best way is to go to the youtube channel: My third film (Heroes Faith I) is there and [can] be seen for free there. I will also be putting the sequel Heroes Faith II there. I do sell my other movies on DVD and those that might be interested can contact me through youtube. 

Here's my photobucket link to see what figures I'm working on or customizing - click the "Show Albums and Stories" link on the side to see ALL of the photos in the Library there: 

PhillyCollector: Wow, I see some of your background work and kitbashes in your Photobucket folders. I will be following your Photobucket account. Thanks, Philip for sharing your faith and your creativity with us.

All text in this article belongs to Philip C. Lane and Dana E. Cooper.


Black Doll Enthusiast said...

I enjoyed this wonderful in-depth interview, D7ana. I am sure action figure enthusiasts will enjoy reading about Lane and viewing his Photobucket gallery as much as I did. Kudos!


V. said...

Really loved this post! I always liked filming it would be great to do movies with my dolls!

limbe dolls said...

Wow! I want to use dolls and action figures to make movies but sometimes it seems like so much work I get discouraged. Thank you for this inspiring interview.

It was also really helpful to hear that some toy companies are open to having their figures appear in independent films. The main reason my collection is made of clones rather than brand name figures is I don't want to get into trouble for using trademarked characters in my videos.

Roville said...

Amazing talent. Loved The Date – it’s loaded with jaw-dropping dios and spectacular 1:6 vehicles (the Hummer!) not to mention the mind-boggling action. I like the humor and how clean the language is. I can’t even guess the hours that went into the making of these videos but what little masterpieces! Have to bow down to the editing - the movement is smooth and the sequences cohesive. (Appreciate the length of each video, too, since I have a short attention span). It’s clever stuff. I’m in the middle of reading Heroes Faith.

Thanks for interviewing Philip, D. And what a nice man to grant interviews. It’s lovely to get to know him and learn a little about his process.

Marta said...

Hello from Spain: thanks for the interview. I enjoyed getting to know the work of Philip Lane. His works are very original and creative. He makes a very original. I read that it takes 11 years creating these videos. We keep in touch.

D7ana said...

Hi and thanks, DBG, Vanessa, LimbeDolls, Robin, and Marta! I am glad that you enjoyed the interview. Philip Lane's talent should not be missed so I was happy that he agreed to the interview. The stopmotion brings the dolls and figures to life; the stories are positive without being too saccharine. Philip, if you are reading these comments - thanks again.

I have to check out the backdrops myself again ;-D

RoxanneRoxanne said...

This is a great interview, Dana! I really enjoyed Heroes of Faith and used to look forward to the updates on MWD. Philip is a great talent, and I appreciate the message behind his stories. Excellent!

Carrickters said...

Great interview, D7ana. Thanks for the introduction to this inspiring film maker. I enjoy watching stop-motion films so am very thankful for the links too,

Vanessa said...

Great interview D7ana. I really enjoyed meeting Philip and seeing his wonderful work. I enjoy stop animation videos and can appreciate the incredible time that goes into making the videos. Thanks again!

Muff said...

What a cool interview! I'm very appreciative of the info he shared. I believe I first came across his YouTube channel from a link you had posted before. It was awesome seeing my PT SWAT guy bust some moves.

D7ana said...

Thanks Roxanne, Carrickters, Vanessa, and Muff. It is fun to see our Power Team guys "come to life," lol.

Now that's some dedicated effort, too, what Philip Lane does.