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WIRE Buzz: Student's VFX skills impress Iger; del Toro still wants to scale 'Mountains of Madness'; and more

By Josh Weiss
Julian Bass Ben 10

Remember his name: Julian Bass.

Currently a theater student at Georgia State University, Mr. Bass may very well be tomorrow's go-to blockbuster director/actor/VFX maven, thanks to a TikTok video that's been breaking the internet since it was posted to Twitter Thursday. Titled "Favorite Heroes," the 20-second project sees Bass wielding a lightsaber, turning into Diamondhead as Ben 10, and slinging webs as Spider-Man.

"If y’all can retweet this enough times that Disney calls, that’d be greatly appreciated," reads the caption. Well, wouldn't ya know it — the Mouse House responded in the form of Disney Chairman Bob Iger, who wrote: "The world’s gonna know your name!!!"

Over the last three days, Julian's tweet was featured on Good Morning America and steadily racked up over 1 million likes and more than 500,000 shares.

"I had been making videos since I was 11 and making this video was the natural progression," he tells SYFY WIRE. "I’d been making Tik Toks since December, actually, and I really thought this was just another one. It started to severely underperform on Tik Tok, so I took a leap of faith and made this tweet as somewhat of a joke. But being recognized by Disney, though, 20 million views later, the chairman himself reaching out ... it’s surreal.

And it wasn't just Iger who reacted to the video, which was brought to life via a combination of programs like After Effects, Blender, and Final Cut. Hollywood power players and studios alike —James Gunn, Zach Braff, and Sony (owner of the movie rights to the growing Spider-Verse) — all shared their compliments with words and emojis.

"For them specifically, I just have to thank them for retweeting and believing in me," Bass adds. "Not all of them have necessarily reached out, but the support is still there. I can honestly see the stars aligning for something Spider-Man-related to happen."

Guillermo del Toro hasn't given up on his cinematic expedition to adapt H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness into a big-budget movie. During a recent virtual interview with IndieWire, the Oscar-winning director revealed that he wears a ring from the fictional Miskatonic University, and will continue to do so until the passion project is realized.

"They may bury me with it," he joked. "It’s a difficult project to tackle. We had James Cameron as a co-producer with me ... we had Tom Cruise [attached to star] and we thought, 'Well, we were gonna get it made.' And it didn’t happen. These are not decisions you make. Most of us filmmakers, we exist in a world that moves above our pay-grade. People think that our career is a series of decisions. Our career is a series of accidents happening with your decisions on top. You don’t decide to do one movie instead of another."

Originally serialized in Astounding Stories in 1936, At the Mountains of Madness follows an ill-fated academic expedition to Antarctica that discovers the cyclopean ruins of a once-great alien civilization. William Dyer, a geology professor at Miskatonic, serves as narrator, recounting the crew's deadly and insanity-inducing encounter with Elder Things and shoggoths. A rich addition to the Lovecraftian mythos of cosmic horror/weird fiction, the novella influenced numerous pieces of media, like John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing and Ridley Scott's Prometheus. Guillermo del Toro's screenplay of Madness (written with Crimson Peak scribe Matthew Robbins) leaked online in 2010.

Guillermo del Toro

The director also touched on his next directorial effort, an adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Ron Perlman, and Toni Collette, the movie (financed by Disney's Searchlight Pictures) officially shut down production on March 13 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We took the decision to stop the shoot like a week before [the industry shut down]. We reacted super fast, we proposed the studio to stop, as opposed to being asked to stop,” del Toro said. "That saved us because nobody, to my knowledge, in the cast or the crew got coronavirus. But we were roughly 45 percent in. We were literally in the middle of a great scene. We went to lunch, we talked to the studio, and when we came back we said, ‘Everybody leave your tools, leave now; see you when we see you.'”

Once filming was put on hold, del Toro began to edit all the existing footage, while facing the immense challenge of rearranging the actors' varying schedules. In terms of returning to set, he revealed that "80-page" safety protocols were drawn up for both Nightmare Alley and his upcoming stop-motion Pinocchio for Netflix. The latter will feature Ewan McGregor as Jiminy Cricket.

According to Stuff, two high-profile shows have received the go-ahead to resume production in New Zealand amid the pandemic: Amazon's The Lord of the Rings and Netflix's Cowboy Bebop.

Over the next six months, the country will allow 206 "film workers" to enter its borders along with 35 family members. All of them are expected to conform to isolating/quarantine protocols and costs, as set forth by New Zealand's federal government and film commission. It's predicted that the move will introduce 3,000 jobs and $400 million back into the nation's economy.

"Our success at managing COVID-19 gives our country an opportunity to become one of the few countries still able to safely produce screen content,” Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford reportedly said. "And the inquiries and interest we are getting from international production houses tells me that the international film community sees New Zealand as something of a global safe haven. This is an opportunity, friends, that we must grab. Despite the turmoil that the world is facing, this is an exciting time for New Zealand’s screen sector."

coronavirus particles

As we reported in early MayLord of the Rings was nearly finished shooting its first two episodes before taking a 4-5-month hiatus. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's J.A. Bayona is directing. Cowboy Bebop, on the other hand, was delayed last October, long before the global health crisis hit, to allow for John Cho (who is playing Spike Spiegel) to recover from an on-set knee injury.

Work on Disney's Avatar sequels picked back up in Wellington last month after director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau were placed in mandatory isolation for two weeks.

Power Rangers Beast Morphers, The Greatest Beer Run Ever, and Sweet Tooth are also among the projects allowed to restart or get underway.