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  • Writer's pictureJulio Rodriguez

Spider-Verse Director Phil Lord swings to Miami panel!

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Courtesy of the author @coolcooljulio

Lights! Camera! Miami! The Miami Film Lab is a non-profit production company supporting local filmmakers. In collaboration with the Coral Gables Art Cinema, the organization currently hosts a “Filmcraft Series” of workshops until November. These workshops highlight Miami natives who’ve risen to Hollywood fame to inspire aspiring filmmakers back home.

The series’s opening act was none other than Director Phil Lord. Lord has directed, written, and produced many iconic films alongside co-director Christopher Miller. Some projects include 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and the recent summer blockbuster Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. As a fan, I was ecstatic to attend. Mirroring his films, Lord’s panel was insightful, inspiring, and off the wall. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from the discussion:

What is it like collaborating with Christopher Miller?

“Chris is like my work husband. Obviously, there are ebbs and flows in any long-term relationship. But he’s a genius and I love to see what he offers. His suggestions are like gifts to the table.”

Courtesy of Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios

What was your experience before films with television?

“We pitched Clone High to MTV and they loved it. We actually made Clone High in an abandoned hospital because the producer was also working on Scrubs. After a couple of weeks, we found out our room used to be the mental ward of the hospital.”

Courtesy of MTV

Why reboot Clone High now?

“The idea is like High School is so different from when Chris and I were in High School. So like, how will Abe Lincoln deal with waking up and being canceled?”

Courtesy of MTV

How has the strike affected you and other Hollywood writers:

“I think Hollywood underestimated how much we’ll do anything to not write. One of my colleagues even walked up to me and said “I think I forgot how to write.”

What inspired you to work on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?

"Cloudy was based on Chris and I’s favorite book as kids. The original directors actually fired us first. I remember during one meeting I said: “There used to be a script for this movie an hour ago.” But eventually the studio came crawling back. I remember we were so worried about being fired. Our lawyers came up to us and told us “You’re getting six months pay. Getting fired means Cancun baby!”

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation & Atheneum Books

What called you to work on 21 Jump Street?

“We wanted to do The Muppet Movie but we landed on this script. Sometimes the movie finds you. When we looked at 21 Jump Street, our idea was: What if it’s good? Because comedies make you laugh, but they don’t aspire to be emotional. The story is really about two men who are in love but don’t realize it.”

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Why do you think the comedy works in The Lego Movie?

"Will Arnett, who plays Batman, said that “The Mistake people make in being funny is being mean”. The joke of The Lego Movie is how these tiny playthings treat everything so seriously. Especially Batman."

Why title The Lego Movie 2: “The Second Part”?

“I love a redundant second title. The legal team even asked us “Are you sure you want to use this?”

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation

How did you pitch Spider-verse?

“Sony pitched us an animated Spider-Man movie. Our idea was we've already seen Peter Parker so many times, that we wanted to ask “What if he was the adult in the room?” So I told Amy Pascal “I’ll do it, but we’re doing Miles Morales.” She said “Who’s that?”

How did it feel to receive the Academy Award for Into the Spider-verse?

“The movie gets the award. But I represent the crew and audience. So whenever a movie gets an award, I hope I represent those people well.”

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

Why make a sequel to 21 Jump Street?

When we made 22 Jump Street, the idea was: “can we make a comedy sequel that’s still funny?

How did the idea of Beyond the Spider-verse’s Canon events come out?

“Canon events were called convergence events originally in the script. The idea was to reflect how fans treat canonicity and fan service like preservation. The idea with Miguel is how holding on to the past can be damaging.”

What’s the next Spider-verse about?

“The idea I pitched to my driver was “Can you turn anger into love?” He liked it.”

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

Will Hialeah Spiderman be in the next Spider-verse?

“You never know.”

Courtesy of The Hialeah Spider-Man on Facebook

What habits do you have for screenwriting and directing?

“My habit is to not have habits. But when you have an idea, drop everything and write it down. Even if it’s in the shower, these phones are waterproof.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring animators?

“Make a bunch of things as soon as you can.”

Courtesy of the author (@coolcooljulio)

Other tidbits

“Chris and I drove from New Hampshire to Miami for Spring Break. We were pulled over in Georgia for speeding to the Speed Racer theme.”

“Check your ego at the door. You get it back at the end.”

“The word actually follows us a lot. That might be on my tombstone: “Actually, that’s where Phil Lord lies.”

“I’ve never seen a great drama that didn’t make me laugh, and I’ve never seen a great comedy that didn’t try to make me cry.”

“I think we’re attracted to things that are impossible”

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