Sony Unveils Spider-Verse Short Film Tackling Mental Issues & Showing Miles Morales Suffering An Anxiety Crisis – Annecy

Sony Pictures Animation world premiered its boundary-pushing short The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story tackling mental health at the Annecy International Film Festival on Monday.

Spinning off the world of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Across The Spider Verse, the short shows its Marvel Comics protagonist Miles Morales/Spider suffering from an anxiety attack as he feels overwhelmed by school work, exams and relationships.

His fears are manifested by a dark figure representing his alter ego as well as an imaginary infestation of spiders in his bedroom. It ends on a lighter note as turns to his father Jefferson “Jeff” Morales, with the short also tapping into importance of strong father and son relationships.

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The reveal comes amid the blockbuster release of Spider-Man: Across The Spider Verse which has grossed $225.5M to date, beating the domestic take of the Oscar-winning 2018 original.

The short is the fruit of Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks joint mentorship program “Leading and Empowering New Storytellers” (LENS) aimed at developing talents from under-represented groups.

The team consisting of director Jarelle Dampier, writer Khalla Amazan, VFX supervisor Clara Chan, animation supervisor Joe Darko took to the stage in Annecy, alongside LENS program producer Michelle Raimo Kouyate and program producer David Schulenburg.

The team had carte blanche on the theme and storyline they could develop out of the Spider Verse and toyed with different ideas.

Dampier revealed that the mental health storyline he developed with Amazan was inspired by a personal anxiety attack he suffered on learning he had been accepted to the LENS program in the role of director on the short.

“In post pandemic world, I felt like I had a lot of trauma.  I think a lot of us did,” he said. “One of the big things that seemed to kind of bring itself to the surface was anxiety.”

“The day that I was offered this job to direct this film. I had the largest panic attack I remember in my life. I spent the night in the hospital. I was so excited and happy at the opportunity and yet my whole body shuts down,” he continued. “I wanted to explore that and to open the door for some healing conversations for everyone.”

The short, which was shown twice over the course of the session, received an enthusiastic response from the audience of emerging animation professionals.

In the wide-ranging talk on the development of the short, Dampier also teased a so-called “easter egg” related to the radioactive Earth-42 spider, which bit Miles Morales giving him superpowers. He said there were five hidden references in the film for fans to discover. We won’t spoil his reveal here.

However, there were no details on when the work would get a wider release.

“I am excited to talk about those things but not quite yet. Exciting things are coming and we will let you know as soon as possible,” said Dampier.

You guys are the first people to see it in outside in the world” chimed in Darko.

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