Sony Pictures Animation revealed another side of Miles Morales, the hero of his blockbuster Spider verse franchise, in a short film The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Storywhich had its world premiere at the Annecy Animation Film Festival on Monday.
The short show features Miles/Spider-Man battling mental health issues, as the teenage web-slinger feels overwhelmed by school, upcoming exams and relationship drama. In short, Mile’s fears take the form of a dark figure representing his alter ego and an imagined spider invasion in his bedroom. But by enlisting the help of his father, Jefferson “Jeff” Morales, MIles is able to overcome his inner demons.
The short film was screened at the Annecy Festival on Monday as part of a session on Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks’ joint mentorship program LENS (Leading and Empowering New Storytellers), which aims to develop new animation talents from underrepresented groups.
Jarelle Dampier directed The spider within short and attended the session along with writer Khalla Amazan, VFX supervisor Clara Chan and animation supervisor Joe Darko, along with LENS program producer Michelle Raimo Kouyate and program producer David Schulenburg.
Dampier said the film’s plot was inspired by the anxiety attack he had upon learning he had been selected to participate in the LENS program.
“The day I was offered this job to direct this movie. I had the biggest panic attack I remember in my life,” Dampier said. “I spent the night in the hospital. I was so excited and happy for the opportunity and yet my whole body shuts down.”
By exploring the themes of mental health in the short, Dampier said he hoped he could “open the door for healing conversations for everyone.”
The domestic Spider-Man: About the Spider-Verse has already surpassed 2018’s Oscar-winning original at the box office, both domestically, where the new film has made $225.5 million to date, and internationally, where it has grossed $164.5 million.
There is no news yet on when or how Sony will screen The spider within to a wider audience.