Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Student filmmaker dreams big, produces “The Ultimate Spider-Man”

Atahan Koksoy
RTF Senior and director Xavier Ingram answers questions with the cast and crew of “The Ultimate Spider-Man” after the student film’s premiere at the WCP Auditorium on Thursday, April 4th, 2024.

Radio-television-film senior Xavier Ingram recalls the first time he tried on his Spider-Man suit, describing it as the moment he felt his hard work come to life. Ingram said it felt unreal seeing himself as the character he grew up watching. 

“The Ultimate Spider-Man” premiered in the WCP auditorium last Thursday. Written, directed and starred in by Ingram, the short film follows a live action version of Miles Morales after developing his Spider-Man powers. Ingram, a long-time Spider-Man enthusiast, said he wanted to take on his dream project before graduation. The film is rated R, tackling heavier issues than other Spider-Man stories, such as family dynamics and coming into one’s self. Ingram said he drew upon his and his friends’ personal experiences to create an authentically relatable Spider-Man.

“Something that I wanted to do from the beginning was to tell a Spider-Man story that seems realistic,” Ingram said. “There’s no point in making something like this if you’re just going to do what’s been done before, so I was like, ‘How can we make this uniquely ours?’”

After writing his first script last spring, Ingram reached out to radio-television-film senior Marlon Rubio Smith to help produce the film. The pair spent the next months in pre-production, fundraising and gathering a team. By fall, they raised $10,000, assembled a 60-person crew and partnered with fellow RTF students Avery Gann, Alyssa Young and Josh Bowlin to take on the roles of co-producer, first assistant director and director of photography, respectively. 

“It was a little bit rocky at first because we were still trying to figure out the scope of the film,” Ingram said. “Something that we went through was trying to figure out what exactly we can do and how much of the story we can tell, because the amount of money we have affects that, and for a long time we didn’t know exactly how much we had.”

Since the film is not associated with the University, affording high-quality equipment and organizing the production proved challenging. However, as a result, the students said they had freedom to incorporate more stunts and visual effects. They aimed to produce the largest-scale project possible that could emulate the quality of a Marvel film. Gann said the experience prepared her to enter the professional world.

“I am probably twice as good of a producer as I was,” Gann said. “I signed up for something a lot bigger than I was used to, and to actually see it come to fruition was really cool.”

They shot during two weekend-long periods, double the time most short films require. Throughout the phases of production, Bowlin said the team spent their free hours together, working through problems that emerged. 

“No matter what, it was always the five of us … committed to this project and trying to make it work,” Bowlin said. “Whenever somebody got particularly stressed about it, there was always four others there to back them up and help.”

Ingram said the team’s passion for not just the story, but filmmaking as a whole drove them. Watching the film premiere proved a surreal experience that Ingram said he felt proud of. 

“It’s very  rare, where you experience a moment and you’re like, I have dreamed of this,” Ingram said. “It’s one of those things where I’ll be able to look back on years later and (think) ‘Wow, those were the good old days.’”

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