The 14-Year-Old Who Got To Work On Across The Spider-Verse Thanks To A Fan Video

Preston Mutanga's impressive Lego animations helped land him a job creating the Lego world seen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

By Britta DeVore | Published

across the spider-verse

Many of us have had dreams of growing up to break into the industry and make it big in Hollywood but that dream became a reality for 14-year-old Toronto native Preston Mutanga when he was recruited to help animate the box office smash, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. According to Variety, after crafting a frame-by-frame recreation of the film’s trailer in LEGOs, which you can see below, the young man shared his finished product on Twitter. Doing its thing, the social media app soon made Mutanga’s video go viral where it made its way to the screens of producers Chris Lord and Phil Miller.

Completely blown away by the talent that Preston Mutanga demonstrated, the teen was the first person they reached out to when they needed help designing a LEGO-based Spider-Man world. Being LEGO fans themselves, having served as co-directors of 2014’s The LEGO Movie, Miller and Lord knew talent when they saw it and immediately set out to get Mutanga’s help on their film.

Blown away by the immense amount of skill that they saw in the creation of the LEGO Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse trailer, Miller said that he and Lord weren’t alone in standing in awe of Preston Mutanga’s work with “some of the best animators in the world” also shocked at what they were witnessing. Calling his project “incredibly sophisticated,” they were even more caught off guard when they learned that the young man wasn’t an adult. 

Being that he was a 14-year-old kid, Preston Mutanga’s collaboration with Lord, Miller, and the rest of the production team had to be done remotely. Taking a handful of weeks to painstakingly plan out and shoot the film’s LEGO sequence, he was mostly on his own aside from biweekly video calls with Miller who would offer suggestions and input on how everything was coming along. 

Lego Spider-Man in Across the Spider-Verse

So, how did Preston Mutanga get such a solid grasp on animation at such a young age? According to Mutanga, he fell in love with the art form after his father introduced him to Blender, a 3-D software program. Saying that he was “instantly” obsessed with his latest hobby, the teen also gave a shout-out to the ever-helpful tool known as YouTube, which helped him learn at a rapid rate. 

An impressive step forward for Preston Mutanga, his debut into feature-length filmmaking isn’t your typical first move for other animators like him. What would normally be preceded by a college education in the arts was immediately skipped over, thanks to a load of talent and a social media platform. As for what’s next in his life, Mutanga is sure to be in high demand with others looking for top-tier animation talent, and, with all the projects that Lord and Miller have on their docket, it’s likely that he’ll be set up for success with the creatives.

With Preston Mutanga’s help, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has taken the world by storm, managing to rake in a whopping $235 million at the box office during its first week alone. Picking up where 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse left off, the action-packed animated feature stars the vocal talents of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac, Brian Tyree Henry, Jake Johnson, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jason Schwartzman, Karan Soni, Daniel Kaluuya, and Issa Rae.

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