Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks will release a brand new original short film titled “The Spider Within.”
Set in the world of the upcoming release “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” the animated short will debut exclusively at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival this June.
In the short, Miles Morales struggles to balance his responsibilities as a teenager, friend and student while acting as Brooklyn’s friendly neighborhood superhero. 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.
“The Spider Within” is part of Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks’ new mentorship program LENS (Leading and Empowering New Storytellers). Launched internally last year, the new program aims to provide high-potential candidates from underrepresented groups an opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience.
As part of the LENS program, four candidates will be picked from both inside and outside of their existing studios will be given creative leadership positions such as director, writer, VFX supervisor and animation supervisor. Under the guidance of program creators and producers Michelle Raimo Kouyate (“Puss In Boots,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) and David Schulenburg (“Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham”), they will work together to produce a short animated film.
Said Kouyate and Schulenburg: “We feel honored and privileged to have been given the opportunity to give shape to the inaugural launch of the LENS program. We are incredibly proud of how the hard work of all four filmmakers — Jarelle Dampier, Khaila Amazan, Clara Chan and Joe Darko — has paid off. They far exceeded all expectations as they stepped into their leadership roles and created a remarkable short. We are very grateful to be part of a studio that is doing meaningful work to give voice to varied groups and to the studio leadership — Kristine Belson, Michelle Grady, Pam Marsden and Paul Martin — who gave rise to this program and supported us every step along the way.”
LENS filmmakers Jarelle Dampier, Khaila Amazan, Clara Chan and Joe Darko who were part of the inaugural internal program said: “The LENS Program was life-changing for all of us – it allowed us to achieve a goal that we felt was very far away. Seeing diverse representation in leadership roles really makes a difference because it shows the next generation of filmmakers that the barriers are being broken down. Animation is the most collaborative art form there is, and it takes a special place to open its doors and foster creatives who have the potential to tell great stories, but haven’t been given their chance to shine. We are so grateful for this experience and the opportunity to create something meaningful, and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”
Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks will soon be gearing up for the program’s second round. Participants will have the chance to create a short within the world of the upcoming “K-Pop: Demon Hunters.”
LENS is backed by Sony Pictures’ global, multi-pronged racial equity and inclusion strategy, Sony Pictures Action.