'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse': Breaking the Rules of Animation

IndieWire | 12/26/2018 | Staff
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Everything was unconventional about “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” including the choice of three directors instead of two. But co-producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller needed a special team to bring Miles Morales to the big screen as the animation disruptor. Their bold choices paid off; “Spider-Verse” has earned plenty of awards acclaim, including a Golden Globe nomination and prizes from both the New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

First, they hired Bob Persichetti, an animation vet who served as head of story on “The Little Prince.” Then Persichetti recruited former DreamWorks colleague Peter Ramsey, an action specialist with directing chops (“Rise of the Guardians”). To complete the team, they promoted “Into the Spider-Verse” co-writer Rodney Rothman, Lord and Miller’s go-to guy from “22 Jump Street.”

Specialty - Areas - Ramsey - Bob - Persichetti

“We each came with our specialty areas,” Ramsey said. “Bob [Persichetti] shepherded animation with the most experience, I ended up taking on a lot of story art responsibilities, and Rodney [Rothman] rewrote what Phil [Lord] had done and was valuable for trouble-shooting. And we all talked to the actors.”

However, each director was required to step out of his comfort zone. “It’s almost like we were working two shifts,” added Persichetti. “Meaning, the daytime straight-up production stuff we’d all be doing and then we’d all come together for editorial and work through the evening. It was out of necessity that we stepped into each other’s shoes, but then find the things that we were most adept at and make those things run as smoothly as possible.”

Everything - Demands - Film - Plays - Book

Because everything was experimental, there were extraordinary demands. The film plays like a moving comic book told from Miles’ perspective as a teenage superhero of color, necessitating Imageworks to create a new animation aesthetic culled from halftones, offsets, and line work.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Miles - Journey

Yet cracking Miles’ journey of...
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