That Moment When You Have to Reveal Your Work to the World

What it was like for Sony’s ‘Spider-Verse’ artists after the fILM’S first teaser trailer was released IN 2017.

In the animation landscape, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has made a dramatic impact ever since its December 2018 release. But until Spider-Verse was fully out there for audiences to see, those working on the film at Sony Pictures Imageworks had very little idea what reaction people would have to the project they’d been laboring on for months and even years.

However, these artists did have somewhat of an early inkling when the teaser trailer for Into the Spider-Verse was released in December 2017, essentially a full year before the film debuted in cinemas. Reactions to the teaser were immediately positive, and it spurred Imageworks on to go even further with their unique approach to telling a new Spider-Man story.

That exact day of the teaser trailer release in 2017 – December 9th – was reflected upon by three Imageworks crew members at the recent SPARKFX conference in Vancouver, where they presented a behind the scenes look at the film. And that day in 2017 turned out to be a major turning point for each of them and the studio.

“That day the teaser trailer came out was a really cathartic, amazing day,” said Imageworks animation supervisor Joshua Beveridge. “We’d worked on this for already a year and a half by the time it came out. The world hadn’t seen any of it, and some of the things we were trying to do felt like risks, and we thought there were too many. We thought the majority of the people might hate it. We thought it was divisive.”

But, as people clicked on the video, it was clear that those early misgivings would fade away. “It wasn’t until the first trailer reactions started rolling in,” recalled Beveridge, “that we came into work with a new, rejuvenated confidence that we were onto something.”

From right, Imageworks crew members Geeta Basantani, Joshua Beveridge and Humberto Rosa, with moderator Sue Rowe, discuss 'Into the Spider-Verse' at SPARKFX 2019.
From right, Imageworks crew members Geeta Basantani, Joshua Beveridge and Humberto Rosa, with moderator Sue Rowe, discuss ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ at SPARKFX 2019.

“We got braver after that,” added Beveridge, “and we could take bigger risks, and that made us able to just plunge into what we were doing. It taught me a lesson, too, that in art if you’re afraid of what you’re doing, if you’re not sure you’re doing the right thing, that means you’re doing something different.”

Meanwhile, lookdev and lead compositor Geeta Basantani said she was not as concerned about how the film would be received, but found the good vibes a major motivator into her continued work: “All of my Facebook feeds were all shout-outs for the trailer. It was so great.”

Imageworks lead animator Humberto Rosa added that the positiveness from the teaser’s release infiltrated just about all of the crew. “We took a lot of energy from that [moment]. We even started printing every piece of fan art that we found online, and put it on the wall. And at some point it was like an entire wall full of fan art, that we actually ran out of space for it.”

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The crew ham it up at SPARKFX 2019.

On many films, the first teaser is often full of bespoke imagery, or even work in progress versions of shots that might be finished for that particular trailer but not necessarily intended for the final film. This was also the case with the December 2017 Into the Spider-Verse teaser.

“After the teaser,” noted Beveridge, for example, “there was such an obvious love for the Miles costume, but people didn’t realize that we’d made that costume just for the trailer, and there wasn’t actually a spot in the movie for him to wear that combination of clothes. So we were trying to figure out, how do we get that in the movie!?”

“The cool part of it was,” said Basantani, “a lot of these shots in the first teaser trailer was supposed to be just for that trailer, and they put a lot of them in the movie because they were just so cool.”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is now out on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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