Preston Mutanga is not your average teenager. The 14-year-old from Toronto has a passion for animation and LEGO, which he combined to create a viral fan-made trailer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the sequel to the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). But his impressive feat did not go unnoticed by the film’s producers, who decided to hire him as an animator for a scene set in a LEGO universe for the movie.
Mutanga uploaded his LEGO remake of the film’s trailer to Twitter on Jan. 2, 2023, where it caught the attention of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the producers and writers of both films. Lord and Miller, who also directed The LEGO Movie (2014), were blown away by Mutanga’s skills and reached out to him to offer him a role in the movie.
“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.”
Mutanga, who has been making LEGO videos since he was a kid and learned animation skills from YouTube tutorials, said he was ecstatic to work with his idols. He worked remotely from Toronto with guidance from Miller and learned about the feedback process of animation.
“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.
Lord praised Mutanga for his talent and creativity, saying that he embodied the spirit of both The LEGO Movie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
“‘The LEGO Movie’ is inspired by people making films with Lego bricks at home,” Lord said. “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, who is still in high school and hopes to become a full-time animator and director, said working on the film was a dream come true.
“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,” he said.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now playing in theaters and has earned over $235 million at the worldwide box office. The film follows Miles Morales as he catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. The film features voice performances by Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Daniel Kaluuya, Mahershala Ali, and Oscar Isaac.
– A 14-Year-Old Got Hired to Animate on ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ After Recreating the Film’s Trailer Shot-for-Shot in LEGO Style, Variety, June 8, 2023
– Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse LEGO Scene Was Done by 14-Year-Old, Consequence, June 8, 2023
– Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse Hired 14-Year-Old Boy as Animator, Variety, June 8, 2023
– Teen behind viral Spider-Verse trailer actually animated the LEGO sections of the movie, GamesRadar+, June 5, 2023