This 14-Year-Old Son of Cameroonian Immigrants Got Hired to Animate on ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’

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Preston Mutanga made waves earlier this year when he shared a video of himself recreating the teaser for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” using LEGO blocks. The two-minute movie was discovered by “Spider-Verse” writers and producers Chris Lord and Phil Miller after it went viral.

“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.”

When it came time to make the latest “Spider-Man” picture, the directors requested Mutanga, 14, to help develop a LEGO-themed sequence.Mutanga, a Minnesota native born to immigrant parents from Cameroon’s Northwest Region, was thrilled to be able to participate to the film, although his parents nearly prevented him from doing so.

Theodore and Gisele Mutanga were skeptical of the offer until they met the film’s Toronto-based production designer, Patrick O’Keefe, who confirmed the contract from Sony Pictures Animation. Mutanga’s father, a medical physicist, then built his son a new computer and bought him a cutting-edge graphics card so that he could work on the contract. Mutanga worked on the sequence over spring break and on school evenings, and he frequently met with Miller for comments.

“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 told The Times.

“Across the Spider-Verse” is the top film at the box office at the moment, with a 96% critic and audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“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,” said Mutanga, who plans to become an animator full-time.

He grew up making short computer-generated Lego videos. “My dad showed me this 3-D software called Blender and I instantly got hooked on it,” he said to The Times. “I watched a lot of YouTube videos to teach myself certain stuff.”

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