A 14-Year-Old Animated a Scene in ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’

The beginning of a thrilling sequelSpider-Man: Across the SpiderverseThe story takes a short but memorable detour into a dimension akin to Lego building blocks and figures.

A clever and funny scene, a tribute to “”lego movie‘ was not the work of a veteran animation artist, but the work of a 14-year-old fan-turned-professional creator living in Toronto.

Born in Minnesota to immigrant parents from northwestern Cameroon, Preston Mutanga was a prodigy born in Minnesota who showed a talent for creativity from an early age. He ignored the LEGO brick set instructions and built the car to his own design.

“When I was younger, I used to draw cartoons,” Mutanga said in a recent video interview. “Looking back on it now, they weren’t the best. I’m not going to lie, but it was a good exercise in telling a story.”

By that point, he had spent several years honing his skills in creating short computer-generated Lego videos. “His father showed him his 3D software called Blender and he was instantly hooked,” he said. “I watched a lot of YouTube videos to teach myself certain things.”

He shared a trailer for his version online. The quality of his self-taught craftsmanship quickly caught the attention of Phil His Lord and Christopher Miller, the director of “The Lego His Movie” and the writer and producer of “Spider-Verse,” two of him. Arrived.

After deciding to include a piece in the Lego universe, the film’s other producer, Christina Steinberg, contacted Mutanga and asked if she would like to animate it.

“When I found out this was made by a 14-year-old kid, I thought, ‘This looks so sophisticated that it’s hard to believe it was made by a grown-up, non-expert,'” Miller said. said in a video call. “It surprised us all, including the best animators in the world.”

Mutanga’s supportive parents, Theodore Mutanga and Giselle Mutanga, were skeptical when the production first contacted them. Their son’s YouTube channel had been hacked not long ago, so the couple were reasonably wary that Hollywood studios wanted their son’s talent.

But after finding the film’s Toronto-based production designer Patrick O’Keeffe on LinkedIn and confirming that Sony Pictures Animation’s offer was legitimate, medical physicist Theodore Mutanga decided to give his son a new computer. and bought him the latest computer. Latest Graphics His card can now render your creations faster.

His mother, public health instructor Gisele Mutanga, said: “I know Preston has a God-given talent, and if we find out he has that talent, it’s going to be great for his parents. All we could do was nurture it and leave it alone.” he flies ”

Over the course of several weeks, Mutanga worked on the Lego sequence, first during spring break and then on school nights after completing her homework. He met with Miller via video every other week, who reviewed his progress and provided detailed input.

For a young storyteller accustomed to working alone with complete creative freedom, collaborating as part of a larger production was an eye opener. “One of the new things I learned he had was the feedback aspect, like how much things actually change from the beginning to the final product,” Mutanga said.

Miller saw Mutanga’s contribution to Across the Spider-Verse not only as a testament to the democratization of filmmaking, but also to the artist’s perseverance. He put a lot of time and effort into animation. said Miller.

“‘The Lego Movie’ was inspired by people making movies out of Lego bricks at home,” Lord said in the video. “That’s why we wanted to make this movie. And the idea of ​​’Spider-Verse’ is that heroes can appear from anywhere.” And then comes this heroic young man, inspired by this movie that inspired people like him. ”

Mutanga is still focused on his high school studies, but feels his career goal of becoming a full-time animator and director is more within reach than he or his parents imagined at this stage. . “I loved the first movie and was really looking forward to the second one, so to be able to work with the people who actually made this masterpiece was a dream come true,” he said. .

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