'Spider-verse' filmmakers were so wowed by a 14-yr-old's Lego trailer remake, they hired him
“It blew us all away, including some of the best animators in the world," producer Phil Miller told the New York Times.
Marvel's 2018 animated feature film, "Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse," was incredibly well-received by fans and critics alike, and its sequel, "Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse" is being touted as just as good if not better.
The films follow a young teen, Miles Morales, as he discovers his superpowers and learns to wield them. But it has now been revealed that, behind the scenes of the new film, another young superhero was being discovered—a real kid with genuinely impressive 3D animation powers that even wowed some of the world's best animators.
At just 14 years old, Preston Mutanga recreated the trailer for "Across the Spider-verse" using Legos and shared his creation on social media in January of 2023. He tagged the producers of the film and wrote, "I recreated the entire Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse trailer in LEGO!"
Sounds downright adorable, right? Kid with his Lego hobby making little home movies?
Yeah, watch this:
His trailer caught the attention of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, producers of both "The Lego Movie" and "Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse." Both men were floored when they discovered it was created by a kid.
“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 New York Times. “It blew us all away, including some of the best animators in the world.”
Lord responded to the trailer with a compliment and a quip: "Well done!!! Where were you in 2014 oh wait you were 6."
\u201c@FG_Artist @chrizmillr @terry12539 @LEGO_Group @SpiderVerse Well done!!! Where were you in 2014 oh wait you were 6\u201d— LegoMe_TheOG (@LegoMe_TheOG) 1672704542
Preston replied that he was "closely observing the movie" at that time, and clearly, he was. And he was learning a lot.
In fact, his animating skills were so impressive the filmmakers invited him to help create a scene for the new "Spider-verse" movie—an homage to "The Lego Movie" that Lord and Miller wanted to include in the film.
Preston's parents were naturally skeptical at first. This certainly wasn't what Preston's dad anticipated when he got him the 3D animation software, Blender, or when Preston used YouTube tutorials to teach himself animation techniques. And what parents would believe that two of the biggest names in the animated film world would enlist the help of their 14-year-old for a major film?
But the offer was real. According to The Times, Preston got a new computer and high-end graphics software and worked on the scene from his home in Toronto. The filmmakers explained to Rotten Tomatoes that Preston animated the shots during his spring break and made revisions after he finished his homework.
Undoubtedly, this experience taught him more than any school homework ever could about his passion.
“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,” Preston told The Times. "Getting to work with the people who actually made this masterpiece was honestly like a dream,” he added.
Apparently, it was pretty dreamlike for the animation crew to work with him as well. Animation lead for "Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse" Chelsea Gordon-Ratzlaff shared on Twitter that they and the whole team were consistently "blown away" by Preston's shots.
\u201c@FG_Artist you nailed it!! all of us on the anim crew were blown away by your shots whenever we saw them, great work \ud83d\udc4f\u201d— LegoMe_TheOG (@LegoMe_TheOG) 1686179289
Now that Preston's involvement in the movie is public knowledge, he's been getting his due praise from the filmmakers and others.
How wonderful that this young person has not only worked hard on polishing his craft but had his talents recognized by some of the best in the business. Kudos to his parents for their encouragement and kudos to the filmmakers for giving a kid this huge opportunity and mentoring him through it. We can't wait to see where in the multiverse Preston Mutanga goes next.
Here's a side-by-side of the original trailer and Preston's Lego remake so you can see how spot-on it was:
\u201cDid you know 14-year-old animator, Preston Mutanga (@FG_Artist), known for this viral LEGO Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse trailer also animated the LEGO scenes in the film? \ud83d\udc4f\u201d— GameSpot (@GameSpot) 1686004748