Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Cardboard Box Office

Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Cardboard Box Office

Meet Cardboard Box Office, otherwise known as Leon, Lilly, and Orson Mackie. They're the imaginative masterminds behind our Honest Diaper Lookbook for Spring 2015! Today, we're going behind the scenes with the adorable Mackies to get the inside scoop on how they make the most of their family time (and what they did with all those Honest cardboard boxes). 

[metaslider id=16660]

1. What is Cardboard Box Office and what inspired you to start it?

Cardboard Box Office is a photography blog in which we recreate scenes from famous films using cardboard and everyday household items. The photos feature myself, my husband Leon, and our young son, Orson. We were inspired to start it mainly through boredom! We had moved from New Zealand to Australia and being new parents so far away from family meant that we spent a lot Saturday nights at home.

It originally began as a one-off. Our family was always asking for family photos from us, so one night we decided to do one in the style of the poster from Wes Anderson's film The Life Aquatic. I'm not sure why we decided to do it — sleep deprivation can do funny things to people. Anyway, the photo proved to be a hit with friends and family and they asked to see more. We didn't have any immediate weekend plans on the horizon, so we decided to do a few more. To date we've done almost 70 recreations. Or more. We really don't know anymore.

2. How did you and Leon meet?

Leon and I met through a publishing company in New Zealand. I was a project manager and he was a graphic designer. He was kinda quiet and would just sit at his desk wearing his headphones. We became close friends through our love for morning coffee at a near-by cafe. Usually the only way to break down the barrier with a designer is through coffee. Having Orson has ensured that we continue to drink coffee every morning.

3. Did you come from creative families?

Not really, though they've always encouraged our creative ventures whatever they may be. They're incredibly supportive.

4. How has Cardboard Box Office grown or changed since you first started doing it?

I suppose over time the sets have become more elaborate but, in saying that, we try not to change the formula too much. We have definitely learned a lot about what works and what doesn't.

Lighting has always been a big element in our photographs and I think we've become better at using it. Although, that may simply be because we've accumulated so many lamps. I think we own about 12 lamps now. Who needs 12 lamps? It's a little ridiculous.

Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Cardboard Box Office

Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Cardboard Box Office

5. What’s the hardest part about the Cardboard Box Office creative process?

The build is the most difficult part. We will have an image in our heads but there is no guarantee that it will look like that in real life. Sometimes it won't look as good as what we imagined but we run with it regardless. You can't really get too hung up on quality and accuracy when you're working with coffee tables and blankets.

From what I remember, we've only ever abandoned one photo because it really wasn’t working at all. Sometimes the photos will come together really easily. For example, our recreation of Cast Away was a last minute shoot. It took only about an hour or so to build. The other difficult part of the process is having to pull down the set after the shoot is done. Sometimes we just want to leave it up because it looks so cool. But then we realize that we need to use the dining table.

Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Cardboard Box Office

6. What picture took the longest to create?

That would be a tie between The Lord of the Rings, E.T., and The Dark Knight. The Lord of the Rings took a long time due to the amount of props and costumes as well as the size of the set. We wanted to go really big with that one and we were really happy with how it turned out. The time-consuming part of E.T. was the 3 meter high (9.4 feet) spaceship which took about 5 hours to build. In The Dark Knight, the tiny Gotham City in the background took many hours to create. It was made from a whole lot of small boxes that we covered in brown paper, cut window holes in, and then stuffed with Christmas lights. Never again.

7. What is Orson’s favorite Honest diaper print? Which print was the most fun to work with?

I think the guitar print. During our behind-the-scenes photos, he just went totally rock 'n' roll and started lifting up the cardboard speakers and throwing them across the room. It all went to his head.

Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Cardboard Box Office


8. What’s the most unusual material you’ve worked with?

We only tend to use materials that can be found inside the average home so we've never worked with anything too strange. The worst material to work with was cling film (I think it's called Saran wrap in the US?). We used it for the rushing water in our recreation The Goonies. It may be great for covering food, but for use on a set it's absolutely horrible. We were trying to lay it flat and it just kept sticking to our fingers so then we'd be shaking it off and it would start bunching up and clinging to itself in big clumps. I'm nervous about the day we decide to recreate a scene from The River Wild.

9. What material do you work with the most? (Besides Honest cardboard boxes!)

Probably bed sheets and blankets. You can just throw one on the ground and call it a mountain or grass or the ocean — it’s easy.

Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Cardboard Box Office

10. Tell us about how you made the “busy bees” picture.

We don't normally use Photoshop to create effects in our photos but this one was an exception. Our initial idea was to simply have Orson as a single bee, but we just felt like it wouldn't really look "hive-like" enough. I mean, very rarely will you see only one bee around a hive. So that's when we decided that we'd instead have a whole lot of Orsons. A swarm of Orsons. A Sworson.

So, after building the set we put Orson in his bee outfit and just let him wander around while we took a whole lot of photos. After we had captured around a dozen shots we put on our costumes, set the timer on the camera, and put ourselves into position. Afterwards, using Photoshop, Leon combined several of the best photos of Orson with the photo of ourselves to make one image.

11. Has it gotten harder or easier to work together as Orson has gotten older?

I think easier, but he's always been a really chilled-out guy. It's certainly more fun. While he's always been really intrigued by the sets, he's now beginning to really enjoy them. For instance he LOVED the helicopter in our recreation of M*A*S*H, and he played in the clock tower in the Back to the Future Part II set for hours. Also, being older he can understand us more. For example, there is this thing he does where whenever we yell "roller coaster!" he throws both his arms in the air like he's riding a roller coaster. This is what he's doing in the rock concert photo we did for the Honest Guitars print. Leon is standing just off camera yelling "roller coaster!" He loved that concert set. The most difficult part of that photo was trying to get him off the stage afterwards.

12. Assuming you now have friends, what do they think of your work?

Haha, that's a bold assumption. Our friends seemed to find it quite hilarious when we first began the blog, but because they've followed it all the way from the beginning they are very used to it now. I think they still enjoy it. Our family, however, remains slightly bewildered by it all.

~Lilly Mackie, Cardboard Box Office

For more awesome scenes like the ones shown here, head over to Cardboard Box Office. You can also stay up to date with their latest creations by following them on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

What do you think of our first-ever Honest Diaper Lookbook? Share your favorite new print with us in the comments below!

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.