Earlier this year, LEGO Masters debuted on FOX and took the construction toy and its creative, avid fans to prime-time TV with a competition series. As the show prepares for a second season on FOX, it has started its search for a new round of master builders. The Toy Book chatted with the show’s casting director, Allison Kaz, about the process of finding the perfect contestants.
The Toy Book: For someone looking to apply to LEGO Masters, how does the casting process work, both on the applicant’s end and your end?
Allison Kaz: When someone is looking to apply to the show, on the applicant’s end, they go to our website, legomasters.tv, and they fill out an application. We are looking for teams of two on the show. However, if they don’t yet have their partner, they can still fill out an application. They go to the website. They enter all of their important information telling us a little bit about themselves, their experience with LEGO, and they upload a couple of photos of their best LEGO original build. And that’s it. It’s that easy!
From there, our casting team will follow up with them if we have any more questions or need more information. We sometimes do an interview via Zoom or via Skype, where we get to know the teams a little bit further and get a sense of their relationship and camaraderie, as well as their LEGO building skills.
TB: Do you have any tips for people who would want to apply?
AK: For this show, there’s the inevitable that you must have the creative passion and drive in order to apply. You really have to be inspired by LEGO and be able to create these incredible magnificent worlds out of LEGO bricks. So that in itself is a big rule of thumb going into it. But, as far as what we’re looking for beyond that, we really are looking for relatable contestants across the board and relatable dynamics. Everything from parent/child to siblings to best friends, to coworkers — two people that have a great love of LEGO but also have a really fun dynamic between them.
TB: How does casting for LEGO Masters compare or differ from other shows you have cast in the past?
AK: Any time there is a show that involves a specific skill set — and in this case, it’s building with LEGO — it’s a bit of a different casting process. Because we really want to understand where that team is coming from in terms of their skill. Are they beginners? Do they work with LEGO sets? Do they have their own original creations that they can create? We really want to get a sense of what their range is on a skill level. Anytime you’re doing teams, it’s really about seeing the team dynamic. What are they like when they’re together? What does their relationship consist of? Is one person a stronger builder than the other? The great thing about LEGO is that it really does bring people together and when you’re watching the show, everybody can really relate to one of the teams, one of the dynamics, because it’s very familiar to their own lives. So, we really strive to find relatable teams that people can be inspired by.
TB: And how does casting teams differ from casting individuals?
AK: The team dynamic is so important. It’s so fun. You get to see the nuances and the quirks and the personalities come out a little bit more when you’re applying with somebody that you know.
TB: How has COVID-19 affected the casting process, for better or for worse?
AK: On any of my shows, COVID hasn’t really affected the casting process because so much of what we do is remote anyway. Nowadays, we do remote interviews. You can still find out so much about a person online and via a Skype or Zoom meeting or interview, so COVID hasn’t really affected the process. What it has affected, in some cases, is that the team members can’t always be together in the same room. To be honest, that hasn’t affected or changed much of our process; we still get to see the two of them interacting, but they’re in different rooms while they’re doing it.
TB: So you still get the vibe for a team even though everything is online?
AK: Right, because we will have two different Zooms going on at the same time, so we can actually see them and they can see each other as they’re interacting, so we’re fortunate to still be able to cast remotely and still get a really good sense of a team dynamic.
TB: What can kids or families gain from watching a show like LEGO Masters?
AK: Oh my gosh, it is so inspiring! I always say LEGO Masters is like the perfect storm of technique and creativity coming to life. These contestants are creating these incredible, imaginative builds and worlds out of LEGO and to see the potential and the inspiration that can come from these simple bricks is really inspiring for people watching. Being in the casting process, I have received so many emails from fans, and parents, and even children who have watched and absolutely were inspired to create something that they saw on the show. And that’s a really cool feeling.
TB: How can the show appeal to the adult toy lovers and collectors out there?
AK: For those who aren’t avid LEGO builders, when you get to see the incredible artistry that comes out of the worlds that the contestants create on the show, it’s incredibly impressive. So it really does spark that creative gene in everybody watching, kids and adults alike.
TB: What is the most difficult part of the casting process or something someone may not know about your job?
AK: I think the hardest part is always picking the final cast. What goes into the final makeup of any show’s cast is a lot of factors. There’s relatability, there’s diversity, there’s chemistry. It’s a perfect mix of what makes that group together work and we’re always striving to look at the group as a whole, so it’s always hard to turn away people that apply that you know are amazing and, for whatever reason, they just don’t work for that one particular season. I always say we have contestants that apply one season and don’t make it and then apply another season and make it and sometimes it’s just a matter of them fitting into that group’s dynamic. Every show has its challenges, but it’s always tough and exciting to create the perfect mesh of contestants.
TB: So for a show like LEGO Masters, about how many applications would be typical to receive?
AK: Oh, we’ve gotten thousands of applications here.
TB: What are you looking for most in LEGO Masters applicants?
AK: The main thing that I always like to get across is when people say “what are you looking for,” and I always say that we are looking for the most creative, passionate, and skilled LEGO builders across the country who can tell a story with their original LEGO builds. So, it’s technique and skill, but it’s artistry and that’s really the winning combination.