Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks’ ‘LENS’ program cohort took the stage today in front of a packed Petite Salle crowd for the world premiere of their new film, set within the ‘Spider-Verse’ world; program provides candidates from underrepresented groups an opportunity to produce their own film while gaining valuable leadership experience.
Today at Annecy 2023, the Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks “Leading and Empowering New Storytellers” (LENS) program cohort got their moment in the spotlight, presenting the world premiere of The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story to a packed audience at the Bonlieu’s Petite Salle theater.
The animated short, a genre-bending thriller focusing on a theme meaningful to the filmmaking team, tells the story of Miles Morales’ struggles to balance his responsibilities as a teenager, friend, and student while acting as Brooklyn’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. After a particularly challenging day living with these pressures, Miles experiences a panic attack that forces him to confront the manifestations of his anxiety and learn that reaching out for help can be just as brave an act as protecting his city from evil.
Attending filmmakers at today’s screening and panel on The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story included this year’s LENS cohort members Jarelle Dampier, director; Khaila Amazan, writer; Clara Chan, VFX supervisor, and Joe Darko, animation supervisor. Michelle Raimo Kouyate and David Schulenburg, LENS program creators and producers of the short, were also present, introducing the film screening before bringing out the four filmmakers and leading a Q&A.
The short's voice cast features Shameik Moore as Miles Morales and Brian Tyree Henry as Jeff Morales.
Backed by Sony Pictures’ global, multi-pronged racial equity and inclusion strategy, Sony Pictures Action, the studios developed the LENS program to provide high-potential candidates from underrepresented groups an opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience. Selected LENS candidates are brought into the roles of Director, Writer, VFX Supervisor, and Animation Supervisor and are charged with developing an animated short under the guidance of program creators and producers.
Program creators and producers Kouyate (Puss In Boots, Silver Linings Playbook) and Schulenburg (Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham) guided the group, with the participants receiving unprecedented access to and mentorship by leaders at the two studios via workshops and talks with directors, animators, visual effects artists, and other seasoned crew members.
The group also received a first-hand opportunity to deepen their understanding of every element of the animated filmmaking process, including production design, animation, visual effects, lighting, sound, and various post-production processes. Through the program, participants strengthened their ability to effectively articulate their film’s creative vision and collaborate across a variety of disciplines.
Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks will soon be gearing up for the program’s second round, in which participants will collaborate to create a short within the world of the studio’s upcoming animated feature, K-Pop: Demon Hunters.
Source: Sony Pictures Animation