Phillip A. Lord is an American filmmaker, actor and animator. Lord and Miller met at Dartmouth College. They are known for directing and writing the animated films Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) and The Lego Movie (2014), as well as directing the live-action comedy film 21 Jump Street (2012) and its sequel (2014). They were originally slated to direct Solo for Lucasfilm and Disney; however, on June 20, 2017, it was announced that they were leaving the project. They are now tasked with directing and finding a screenwriter for Artemis.
According to The New York Times, Lord is from Miami; his mother is a Cuban-born psychologist, and his father recently retired from the aviation business and before that directed a dance company, Fusion, for 10 years.
Lord and Miller both grew up making short films with an affinity for animation. On campus, the two had separate columns in the school newspaper. Lord was a member of Amarna, a co-ed undergraduate society.
During their time at Dartmouth, the school paper published a profile on Miller, which caught the attention of then chairman of Disney Michael Eisner. According to Lord, Eisner brought the profile to the attention of his fellow Disney executives who then offered to set up a meeting with Miller. Miller agreed to the meeting as long as he could bring Lord. After three months, the two moved to Los Angeles and after one meeting were offered a two-year development deal for Disney Television Animation.
Though nothing they pitched made it to air, they produced the pilot to Clone High, which was subsequently
dropped by Fox. After they wrote and produced on a series of sitcoms, MTV informed the duo that they were interested in purchasing a 13-episode season of Clone High. Although the show was met with acclaim, MTV cancelled the series after hunger strike protests occurred in India over the show’s portrayal of Gandhi as a motor-mouthed partier.
In 2003, the two were tapped to write a screenplay for what would become their first feature film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. After a year working on the script, they were fired for story issues and replaced with new writers, who after a year were also fired. Lord and Miller were then re-hired in 2006. The two completely redid the script, this time with the creative input of their crew. The new draft had the protagonist as a failed inventor who wanted to prove himself to his town. The two were almost fired again after Amy Pascal, head of Sony, criticized the film for a lack of story. Although the film succeeded on the comedic front in the animatic stage, Pascal cited the lack of an anchoring relationship in the film as a failure in the story telling. Unable to create new characters and environments to suit the new story demands, the two elevated the character of the tackle shop extra to be the protagonist’s father, thereby creating the relationship Pascal had requested. The pairs' experience on Cloudy taught them two valuable lessons: the power of creative collaboration and the importance of emotion in a story.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was released in 2009 to critical and popular acclaim. After the film was released, the two sought to try to make something different from Cloudy and pitched themselves as possible directors for the 21 Jump Street script that Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill had written. The studio agreed and the two directed their first live-action R-rated film, once again released to critical and popular acclaim which led to the production of a sequel titled 22 Jump Street.
In an interview with Robert K. Elder for his book The Best Film You've Never Seen, Lord stated that "in an animated feature, you remake the movie three or four times, and it's really easy to get bummed out that the way you did it before didn't get greenlit, didn't get paid, and you're making a totally different version of that movie."
During the production of 21 Jump Street, they pitched a take on a possible Lego film to Dan Lin. Lin and Warner Brothers loved the take, so Lord and Miller wrote and eventually directed their third feature film together, The Lego Movie. The duo were picked by Warner Bros. to write the script for the upcoming superhero film The Flash. The duo were also picked up in 2015 by Sony Pictures to make an animated Spider-Man film with the option to direct.
The duo have recently developed a live-action/animated series, Son of Zorn, for Fox, with Jason Sudeikis voicing the lead role of animated character Zorn, and Johnny Pemberton and Cheryl Hines playing the live-action roles. They are also producing a cable-TV drama based on the popular NPR/This American Life spinoff podcast Serial.
Also, they will produce an R-rated animated Netflix original film called America: The Motion Picture alongside Will Allegra, Matt Thompson, Adam Reid, Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan from a screenplay by David Callaham and directed by Thompson.
In January 2017, production began on the then-untitled film Solo, a standalone Star Wars movie based on the Han Solo character. On June 20, 2017 it was reported Lord and Miller were fired from the project by Lucasfilm after over four-and-a-half months of filming, about three-quarters through principal photography. Lucasfilm announced that "creative differences" were the reason with Entertainment Weekly reporting that Lord and Miller were going off script and trying to make the film into more of a comedy. They were unwilling to compromise with Lucasfilm and writer Lawrence Kasdan on the direction of the film feeling their vision was the best way to go. Two days later, Ron Howard was announced as the replacement for Lord and Miller to complete the film and any reshoots. Lucasfilm has said they expect production to end on time for the film to meet its May 25, 2018 release date.