Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Team at CalArts for Panel and Q&A

Spread the love

In the middle of Hollywood’s busy awards season, a team from the critically acclaimed and box office hit Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse stopped at CalArts’ Bijou Theater on Feb. 9 for a panel discussion and Q&A with an enthusiastic group of mostly Character Animation students.

The evening featured the key insights and of director Justin K. Thompson, production designer Patrick O’Keefe, VFX supervisor Mike Lasker, and executive producer and CalArts alum Bob Persichetti (Film/Video BFA 96). Robert Domingo, acting associate program director of Character Animation, served as the evening’s moderator.

Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards this Sunday, March 10, the film already took home the Best Feature Award at the animation industry’s Annie Awards on Feb. 17.

The Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse team brought a special sizzle reel of images and scenes from the film to screen and talk through with attendees.

The sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) focuses on the adventures of Miles Morales / Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy / Spider-Woman and is set in six alternate universes called the Spider-Verse. Each universe has a distinct visual style and animation.

Calling Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse the “largest-budget indie art house film,” Thompson noted that they benefitted from the success of the 2018 film and that it wasn’t hard to sell the studio on creating the different looks throughout the film. “We go too far and just keep pushing and pushing [animation boundaries],” Persichetti said.

While following the formula of doing “something that we never did before” for the film, Thompson also noted that their ultimate goal was to simply tell Miles’ story and continue his journey.

“But Gwen’s world was the hardest to create,” Lasker added. “[She’s] probably the most emotionally nuanced character in the film.”

In creating the film, the panelists agreed that collaboration was key to creating the 140-minute film, and they offered advice to those who those in the audience who may find themselves animating, directing, or producing a film. “It was 1,000 different people holding creative hands,” Persichetti said. “So don’t be a task master.”

Thompson said, “Don’t expect [animators] to have it on the first try. Be open to possibilities and let artists do their thing.” Lasker agreed: “Give them the freedoms, but know what the goals are.”

“I’d rather see 50 of the loosest thumbnails,” Thompson said, instead of nearly finished designs, “You can’t have a conversation about the finished product.”

During the Q&A, the Spider-Man team encouraged the students to be risk-takers. O’Keefe said that he didn’t abandon his artistic principles, while Thompson asked that they take on projects that are exciting to them.

“Make choices that put you in risky places,” Persichetti said. “And learn from old projects.”

Watch the trailer for Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse.
Avatar photo
PUBLISHED BY Christine N. Ziemba

Christine is the director of Content at CalArts, responsible for the Institute's editorial in both print and online platforms. In addition, she oversees CalArts' social media accounts. In her spare time, she writes about the Santa Clarita food scene at scvfoodie.com.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



24700 is CalArts‘ online space dedicated to sharing news and work of the larger CalArts community from around the world. The news site captures stories of the exploration of new forms and expressions in the arts by our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Subscribe Now

Get 24700 delivered straight to your inbox.


Your email has been sent