Spider-Verse Animators Denounce Inhumane Working Conditions
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Animators Report Inhumane Working Conditions in Across Spider-Verse Development

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BY June 26, 2023

The film Spider-Man: Across Spider-Verse has undeniable results and quality, both in plot and graphic effects. However, this came at a price. Spider-Verse animators had to suffer conditions and a superhuman and exploitative effort for some elements of the team.

Several group members mentioned above left the project and disclosed the working conditions in Sony’s production. They pointed out that the main reason was the directives from producer and writer Phil Lord that made the team have to overwork in an unusual way.

Across Spider-Verse Animators: Working Conditions Were Superhuman for the Animation Team

Across the Spider-Verse Box Office Image: Sony

Vulture has just published a report echoing the statements of four animators who left the Spider-Man: Across Spider-Verse project. They indicated that the working hours were too demanding at 11 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also had to make numerous revisions and re-edits of the content.

Spider-Verse animators pointed out that the main problem is how Phil Lord managed the development. They indicated that he overruled the decisions of the directors and writers since the notes that he made carried more weight and if they contradicted the director’s, it was his annotations or guidelines that were valid. They indicated in this regard the following:

“As a producer, Phil overrides all the directors. Obviously they are in charge of the direction, but if Phil has a note that contradicts his note, his note takes precedence. They have to do what Phil says. So, there were constant changes and cuts. With Phil Lord, nothing is final or approved. Nothing was really set in stone. Nothing was ever done. Everything was moving endlessly under our feet because they wanted it to be the best it could be.”

On the Spider-Verse animators’ statements, the directors did not give statements. Phil Lord and fellow producer and screenwriter Chris Miller and directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson and Kemp Powers declined to respond when asked about it.

Phil Lord’s Conceptualization Problems

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse Image: Sony

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse, animators stated that although Lord and Miller often work together, the latter was absent from much of the film’s development in this case. This absence caused Lord always to seek final approval and overshadow the opinion of the directing team.

One of the main details was that Lord needed help conceptualizing the 3D sequences in the planning stages. This resulted in a focus on rendered editing.

This meant that the sequences had to be constantly edited, which meant that the animators had to change the same sequences many times. In fact, another of the animators highlighted that this is the first time he has had to do the same job so many times. About this, he stated:

“It’s really crazy, I’ve worked on projects where things get rewritten, even at the end of production. But this is another level of crazy.”

Another of the animators stated that in many cases, they had to redo already approved sequences. That the lack of planning for the film caused them to have to constantly make and remake, which was feasible but took a lot of effort and time.

Sony, for its part, stated that these Across the Spider-Verse animators on the team are not part of the majority on the project. Amy Pascal, former president of Sony and head of Spider-Man productions, stated that it is true that approximately 100 animators quit. However, she also emphasized that they needed more than 1000 to finish the movie.

Pascal commented that this is creating an animated movie, as you have to redo sequences until the plot and elements are right. The executive stated that Across Spider-Verse animators were not the only ones to quit. According to what she said, it usually happens in any film of this style. 

Featured Image Via Warner Bros. Pictures 

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