Right before the long holiday weekend, 20-year-old Georgia State University student Julian Bass shared a TikTok video on his Twitter account and asked people to retweet it “enough times that Disney calls.”
His gamble paid off. A few days after sending the video out on social media, Disney—and plenty of others—came calling.
In the seamlessly edited video, set to Harry Styles’ impossibly catchy “Watermelon Sugar,” Bass transforms from a Jedi armed with a light saber to Ben 10 to your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, bearing an uncanny resemblance to a real life version of Miles Morales, from the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The short video is not only incredibly fun to watch, but an incredible showcase of Bass’ self-taught editing and visual graphics skills.
“I learned VFX and filmmaking on my own for the most part,” Bass says in an interview with TIME. “[There was] a lot of trial and error and learning from experience! I haven’t ever taken a film class or anything like that.”
The video started out as just another exercise for Bass. “The idea was born out of me wanting to try something new,” he says. “I always like to try new things and I’d never done a Ben 10 alien, CGI character, a good lightsaber, or Spider-Man effect. The song ‘Watermelon Sugar’ gave me the idea to just throw them all together and I got up and did it. The video, the tweet, all of it was really just me messing around. I’ve been doing this since I was 11 so for me it was truly just another day, just another video.”
While it may have been “just another video” for Bass, the video lit a fire on social media, quickly spreading from fans to stars to directors and even studios. They all took notice of the video and the incredible untapped talent it showed. Among those to comment on the clip were Oscar-winner Matthew Cherry, actor Josh Gad, movie studio, Sony, and Ben 10 voice actor Tara Strong, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and actor Zach Braff urging Gunn to “hire this man.” Luke Skywalker himself, a.k.a. actor Mark Hamill, liked the tweet, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse director Peter Ramsey took notice of both the video and the fan campaign to turn Bass into the live-action version of Miles Morales.
That wasn’t all, though. In a dream interaction for any up-and-coming visual effects star, the official Lonely Island Twitter account wrote that it had forwarded the video to Industrial Light & Magic, the famed animation and special effects firm. Eventually, Bass’ video managed to do what he dreamed of— it caught the attention of Disney executive chairman Bob Iger himself, who replied to Bass online saying, “The world’s gonna know your name!”
The attention was stunning for Bass.
“I was absolutely surprised that all of these high profile people were showing up and retweeting, I would’ve never thought this would happen,” says Bass. “The first one I noticed was the Lonely Island and as a massive fan of them I was blown away. Less than 5 hours later, Bob Iger is there changing my life in an instant.”
The specifics of what this all means for the young creator is still to be seen, but Bass is definitely excited by the prospects and the opportunities that came from making and sharing the video. “I’ve gotten plenty of offers for representation and from casting directors. I’m not entirely sure what I’m allowed to spill so for now let’s just say there’s a lot of stuff in the works,” he says. “Only thing for me to do now is continue to create, filter some phone calls, and hedge my bet to be your friendly neighborhood Spider-man.”
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