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Pop Culture

'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.

Scene from Spider-man Across the Spider-verse Lego trailer

Preston Mutanga's Lego trailer impressed the industry's top animators and he's only 14.

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."

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.

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:

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.

As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.

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Health

People admit the one thing that Boomers really got right and some folks are uncomfortable

"You have to force yourself to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable."

A Baby Boomer has some thoughts on emotional resilience.

An overarching Baby Boomer stereotype is that they have a problem with the younger generations, especially Millennials because they were coddled growing up and lack the determination to do hard things.

Many believe that when helicopter parents shelter kids from discomfort, they never develop the emotional resilience that it takes to succeed on their own.

Some may even attribute this to the increase in mental illness.

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A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That's about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water.

And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

2. Bottled water could potentially be of lower quality than tap water.

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Family

Millennial mom charges her 3 young children rent, sparking debate among parents

Her goal is teach her children how to budget and pay bills “in a safe environment.”

Representative Image From Canva

It's important to teach kids about financial responsibiltiy. But is this too far?

Back in May of 2023, a Texas couple sparked a huge parental debate after saying that they charged their 19-year-old daughter rent after she graduated high school. While some thought it taught responsibility, others felt like they were merely adding another arbitrary obstacle for their child.

Now, if this was the response to a 19-year-old getting charged rent, imagine how folks might feel to hear about it happening to kids under 13.

In a viral TikTok, mom and personal finance influencer Samantha Bird shared that she charged her three elementary school-aged children rent and utilities each month. This method might seem unconventional, but Bird argues that it’s simply a way to learn about money “in a safe environment.”

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When people move in and refuse to move out, what do you do?

Squatters' rights laws are some of the most bizarrely misused legal realities we have, and something no one seems to have a good answer for. Most of us have heard stories of someone moving into a vacant home and just living there, without anyone's permission and without paying rent, and somehow this is a legal question mark until the courts sort it out.

According to The National Desk, squatters' rights are a carryover from British property law and were created to ensure that abandoned property could be used and to protect occupants from being kicked out without proper notice. It should go without saying that squatter law isn't meant to allow someone to just take over someone else's property, but sometimes that's exactly what happens.

It's what happend to Flash Shelton's mother when she put her house up for rent after her husband passed away. A woman contacted her with interest in the property, only she wanted to do repairs and look after the home instead of paying rent. Before anyone knew it, she had furniture delivered (which she later said was accidental) and set up camp, despite Shelton's mom not agreeing to the arrangement.

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via Dorilee and Sean Lavin (used with permission)

Sean and Dorilee Lavin feel complete.

Dorilee Lavin, 39, was a divorced mother of 3 living in Vermont. When she was ready to find her next relationship, she made a list of characteristics she wanted in her next husband. “I manifested him hard,” Dorilee, 39, told Today.com.

Three days later, she saw a tall, dark-haired man named Sean walking his 2 daughters to school and hoped he was single. “It was the sweetest thing ever, like an image you’d see in a magazine,” she recalled. "They had such a happy energy."

After some research, she discovered that he was single, too. Unfortunately, their paths didn’t cross and the school year was nearing its end. "I never got the chance to connect with him, but the [after-school care] was tired of hearing me talk about him to them," she confessed in a TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

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