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Write On: 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' Writers Chris Miller, Phil Lord and Dave Callaham

December 12, 2023
2 min read time

“The lesson we keep learning is that the thing that breaks you [into Hollywood] is your weirdest idea. The thing that only you can write… All of our friends who have done that – it's been a fulcrum in their career,” says Phil Lord, co-writer of Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse.

On today’s episode, I chat with Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Dave Callaham about taking the Spider-Man franchise into the modern era, making it fresh, heartfelt and multicultural. While Lord and Miller both won Oscars for 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, they brought Callaham on board to help finish the sequel and collaborate on the third installment, Beyond the Spiderverse.

What surprised me most about my Zoom chat with the trio was how down to earth they seemed, how open and honest they were about struggling to make Across the Spiderverse work for everyone, including their discerning animators in India.

Lord, Miller and Callaham also talk about taking a risk with the first act of Across the Spiderverse, turning their villain Spot into a multidimensional character and why creating a “multiverse” of Spider People was important to them.

Callaham also shared this turning point in his career: “I had not gone to film school so everything I learned about screenwriting was from Syd Field and from coffee table books and there were all these rules about how you have to write and how a structure has to be. And how you have to handle things on the page. Ten years in, I got really bored. I felt like I wasn't being honest about the way I was writing material… So I wrote this fairly idiotic, ridiculous script but I wrote it in a style that sounded like the way that I talk, it was conversational and it was fun. I had little of asides to the reader which I know sounds really awful, but it seemed to work at the time and that opened my career up pretty substantially… That happened because I was being more honest with myself as a writer and I was not trying to write like other people anymore. It worked and I never looked back,” he says.

 

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