Julian Bass loves Spider-Man, a trait you can easily glean by scrolling through the videos he posts to his TikTok and Twitter accounts.
"I just think Spider-Man is so fun. It's so inspiring to me," Bass told NPR's Weekend Edition. "Everything, every little aspect that you could possibly think of about Spider-Man is something that I'm aware of, that I know of."
In one now-viral video, the 20-year-old theater major at Georgia State University morphs into his favorite heroes using his own special-effects — first a Jedi wielding a blue lightsaber, then Ben 10, before his final transition into Spider-Man. He asked his followers to retweet the video "enough times that Disney calls." Twenty million views later, Disney wasn't the only one he heard from.
if y’all can retweet this enough times that Disney calls, that’d be greatly appreciated pic.twitter.com/GrKlIRxg3J— Julian Bass (@thejulianbass) July 2, 2020
At first, he said his video gained "some small traction with my immediate circle."
"And then the verified profiles started commenting," he said. "The first one for me was The Lonely Island. And then I started seeing Josh Gad, Matthew Cherry. I saw Mark Hamill liked it. I mean if Mark Hamill likes it, I'm a Jedi now."
Bass said these aren't just retweets — he's also getting messages from "bigwigs" such as Marvel co-president Louis D'Esposito and people from HBO Max.
"Everyone you can think of has been just blowing up my phone recently and I just need to sort of mitigate how to respond to everybody and make sure I can get these opportunities and seize these opportunities in the best way possible," he said.
He's hoping those opportunities could potentially lead into a role in front of the camera, despite his professional-looking special-effects work behind the videos.
"The skills that I have as a visual effects artist kind of were born out of me wanting to be in front of the camera and looking good while I'm doing it," he said. "My parents are fantastic for doing this but they told me that, yeah Julian, you can do this. Use this program, this little free thing here. Yeah you can use a green screen and learn how to do that. And so I was like, if I can, why don't I? If I want to act like Spider-Man, why not make it look like Spider-Man?"
After he posted the video, responses began pouring in, requesting to see him cast as Miles Morales, the first Afro-Latino character to take on the name Spider-Man in the Spider-Verse.
"Yeah to be a fan of something and then to see people want you to be a part of it, that's a chance that I will not ruin for myself whatsoever," Bass said. "If they pass on it, look, that's OK, there's plenty more opportunities. But I feel like I'm ready to take my shot and that's truly what it's all about right now."
SCOTT DETROW, HOST:
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Julian Bass, a 20-year-old theater major at Georgia State University, has been posting special effects videos on TikTok for a while now.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATERMELON SUGAR")
HARRY STYLES: (Singing) Watermelon sugar high, watermelon sugar high...
DETROW: But this time, he added a message to his tweet of the TikTok video showing him wielding a lightsaber and morphing into both Ben 10 and Spider-Man - if y'all can retweet this enough times that Disney calls, that'd be greatly appreciated. Twenty million views later, yeah, Disney called. NPR called too, and Julian Bass is on the line.
So how's it going?
JULIAN BASS: It is going absolutely amazing. I am kind of overflowing with emotions here.
DETROW: So not only did Disney call. Disney's chairman, Bob Iger, was one of the many high-profile people from show business to tweet at you. How did you feel when this started to blow up?
BASS: I had just gotten Twitter in April. And so it was very small for me, nothing more than maybe five likes per post. And to see it start to just gain some small traction with my immediate circle, and then the verified profiles start commenting - the first one for me was The Lonely Island.
BASS: Then I started seeing Josh Gad, Matthew Cherry. I saw Mark Hamill liked it. I mean, if Mark Hamill likes it, I'm a Jedi now. I mean, it's just true.
DETROW: I think so. I think that's a rule, yeah. So you're a theater major, but it's clear you're really good at special effects, like in this earlier video.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
BASS: Grab your lightsabers, your blasters and your best editing skills, and help me fight the Sith.
DETROW: You're wielding a lightsaber. You're dodging blaster bolts. Do you want to be in front or behind the camera?
BASS: Well, yeah, the skills that I have as a visual effects artist kind of were born out of me wanting to be in front of the camera and looking good while I'm doing it. My parents, you know, are fantastic for doing this, but they told me that, yeah, Julian, you can do this. You know, use this program, this little free thing here. Yeah, you can use a green screen and learn how to do that. And so I was like, if I can, why don't I, you know? If I want to act like Spider-Man, why not make it look like "Spider-Man"?
DETROW: Has it mostly been self-taught, just practicing learning things, posting videos on your own, or have you been taking classes, as well?
BASS: I haven't taken a single class...
BASS: ...For this stuff, no.
DETROW: (Laughter) Wow.
BASS: Yeah. I - you know, YouTube is probably the classroom. And there's, of course, a lot of free resources online. And even for this video that I just did, I watched tutorials for other effects because I know that there's a technique in there that I can apply to my own effect that I'm thinking about.
DETROW: So you've gotten retweets and mentions from a lot of these high-profile people. Have you had any specific conversations yet about what this could lead to?
BASS: A lot of people that you see retweet are people who actually reached out, and I heard from Louis D'Esposito from Marvel, its, like, bigwig, HBO Max. Everyone you can think of has just been blowing up my phone recently, and I just need to sort of mitigate, you know, how to respond to everybody and make sure I can get these opportunities and seize these opportunities in the best way possible.
DETROW: So I want to ask you about one specific idea that a lot of people who saw this video seem to have and seem to share - an "Ultimate Spider-Man" movie starring Julian Bass as Miles Morales. How did that feel when you saw that suggestion coming in over and over?
BASS: It's unreal for me. I'm a super fan of "Spider-Man." My parents tell the story all the time that the first movie they took me to see as a baby was "Spider-Man" with Tobey Maguire. It came out in 2002. They were like, Julian, you were dead silent throughout the whole movie. You were super attentive for some reason. We don't know why. I just think "Spider-Man"'s so fun. It's so inspiring to me. Everything, every little aspect that you could possibly think of about "Spider-Man" is something that I'm aware of and I know of.
And as for Miles Morales, it was a big deal for me to kind of see him come into the spotlight, and...
DETROW: And for listeners who may be more familiar with Peter Parker, Miles Morales is the new Spider-Man. He's an Afro-Latino Spider-Man who's been in the comics the last few years and had an amazing movie, "Into The Spider-Verse," a couple years ago, as well.
BASS: Yeah. To be a fan of something and then see people want you to be a part of it - man, that's a chance that I will not ruin for myself whatsoever. You know, if they pass on it, look. That's OK. There's plenty more opportunities, but I feel like I'm ready to take my shot. And that's really what it's all about right now.
DETROW: That's Julian Bass, maybe Spider-Man one day, definitely something one day, talking to us a couple days into his life as a viral social media star. Thank you, Julian.
BASS: Thank you so much.
(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL GIACCHINO'S "THEME FROM 'SPIDER-MAN,' ORIGINAL TV SERIES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.