Preston Mutanga is not your average 14-year-old.
As AfroTech previously told you, the Minnesota native is credited as an animator for the movie “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” Sony Pictures Animation’s highest-grossing animated film to date, earning over $684 million globally, according to Box Office Mojo.
just rewatched #AcrossTheSpiderVerse, and somehow the experience was better than the first. absolute masterpiece of a movie. congratulations to the whole Spider-Verse team, and thank you all so much for the support!
EXTREMELY HYPED FOR BEYOND THE SPIDER-VERSE!!! pic.twitter.com/q2q9P7VdtO
— LegoMe_TheOG (@FG_Artist) July 22, 2023
Mutanga caught the attention of Sony’s team after sharing his shot-by-shot LEGO rendition of the movie’s original trailer. It never occurred to him that his animation would go viral, let alone land him an opportunity to be in contact with “Spider-Verse” writers and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were also the directors of “The Lego Movie,” per New York Times.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect it to get nearly as much attention as it got,” Mutanga told AfroTech in an exclusive interview. “I just expected it to be like a nice cool, ‘what’s next’ thing and just put it out and then work on the next animation. I didn’t realize I’d be focused on it for so long, people would be reaching out to me, and I’d be talking to my idols. It’s just been really nice.”
When the opportunity presented itself to work on a segment involving LEGOs for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” Mutanga rose to the occasion, despite initial hesitations. He was able to reach the finish line in three months with the help of his father, Theodore, a medical physicist.
Initially, his father had given him a computer to work on the project. However, there was a slow response time from the device when rendering animation sequences. So, they tag-teamed to build a computer in one night.
“Me and my dad had been researching computer parts for a bit because shortly into the project we realized that with my existing PC that he got from his work, it wasn’t gonna work ’cause it wasn’t strong or fast enough,” Mutanga explained. “So, we had to get a new, more powerful one. We had been researching parts to make a custom PC, and it took like the night to build. I helped a little bit, but then I had to go to bed. He did most of the work, and I’m just really thankful that he was there for me. He contributed to lot of this.”
Per Toronto Life, Mutanga created his first video at the age of 9. Additionally, he still embraces Blender to support his animation work to this day. The software’s CGI was helpful in creating the LEGO sequences seen in his trailer and film for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”
“Technology really helps advance us and tap into potential we never thought we had. It’s capable of a lot. It has so much power, and I just think it’s like a really limitless tool,” Mutanga told AfroTech.
Looking ahead, Mutanga feels empowered knowing he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to. Showing no signs of slowing down, the animator hopes to add the director title to his resume in the future.
“I think that would be really cool for me so I could be able to direct or direct my own movies, maybe pitch some ideas. I think that would be cool,” he expressed.