The name Preston Mutanga might not ring a bell, but anyone who has contributed to the $235 million and counting box office haul for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” has seen his work on the big screen.
Mutanga is a 14-year-old from Toronto, Canada, who landed a role as an animator on “Across the Spider-Verse” after he recreated the film’s trailer shot-for-shot in the style of LEGO blocks and left producers Chris Lord and Phil Miller dazzled (via The New York Times). Not too bad for your industry debut.
Mutanga uploaded his LEGO remake of the “Across the Spider-Verse” trailer to Twitter on Jan. 2 (see the post below). Lord and Miller, both active Twitter users, caught wind of the clip and were impressed — the directors know a thing or two about crafting LEGO-inspired sequences as the directors of 2014’s “The LEGO Movie.” When the team decided they wanted a scene in “Across the Spider-Verse” set in a LEGO universe, they decided to reach out to Mutanga.
“We found out that it was a 14-year-old kid who made it and we were like, ‘This looks incredibly sophisticated for a nonadult, nonprofessional to have made,” Miller told The Times. “It blew us all away, including some of the best animators in the world.”
Mutanga said he began animating as a kid after his father showed him “this 3-D software called Blender and I instantly got hooked on it.” The teenager added, “I watched a lot of YouTube videos to teach myself certain stuff.”
Remotely from Toronto, Mutanga spent several weeks animating a LEGO sequence for “Across the Spider-Verse.” As reported by The Times: “Every other week, he would meet via video with Miller, who would check on his progress and provide detailed input.”
“One new thing I learned was definitely the feedback aspect of it, like how much stuff actually gets changed from the beginning to the final product,” Mutanga said.
“‘The LEGO Movie’ is inspired by people making films with Lego bricks at home,” added Lord. “That’s what made us want to make the movie. Then the idea in ‘Spider Verse’ is that a hero can come from anywhere. And here comes this heroic young person who’s inspired by the movie that was inspired by people like him.”
Mutanga is still in high school, but he’s now one step closer to achieving his career goal of becoming a full time animator. He said, “I adored the first movie and was so hyped for the second one, so getting to work with the people who actually made this masterpiece was honestly like a dream.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is now playing in theaters from Sony Pictures.