‘Spider-Verse’ Filmmakers Relive Dartmouth Days

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Phil Lord ’97 and Chris Miller ’97 did a campus crawl during Commencement weekend.

Chris Miller '97 and Phil Lord '97 re-create photo
After speaking at Dartmouth’s 2023 Commencement on Sunday, Chris Miller ’97 and Phil Lord ’97 re-create a photo from their own graduation in 1997. The filmmakers met at Dartmouth. (Photo by Susan Boutwell)

Oscar-winning filmmakers Phil Lord ’97 and Chris Miller ’97 made the most of their time on campus last weekend, bringing their funny, enthusiastic selves to everything from the mic check to the Commencement address, which they gave in tandem Sunday morning.

Even what might have been a routine sound check on the Green Saturday turned out to be a good time, with the duo cracking jokes and teaming up with Dartmouth Board of Trustees Chair Elizabeth Cahill Lempres ’83, Thayer ’84 for an impromptu recitation of the Gettysburg Address.

Chris Miller '97 talks with students
Chris Miller ’97 talks with film and media studies students at Dartmouth on Saturday. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

Later that day, the makers of the blockbuster Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse meandered down memory lane, with visits to the Hopkins Center for the Arts, which is undergoing a major expansion, and the animation studio.

The two met as first-year students at Dartmouth almost 30 years ago when a mutual friend connected them with the fateful words: “I met someone just as weird as you,” Lord recalled in their Commencement address.

They would start making films together soon after, some of which were on display in their honor in the Black Family Visual Arts Center.

Throughout the weekend, Lord and Miller explored campus, making planned and spur-of-the moment stops (Miller also had visited his old fraternity, Alpha Chi Alpha, on Friday night). Along the way, they hugged former professors, took photos of their own, and talked with a number of students.

Phil Lord rubs nose of statue
Phil Lord ’97 follows Dartmouth tradition and rubs the nose of a statue of Warner Bentley, the first director of the Hopkins Center for the Arts. (Photo by Erin Supinka)

During their Commencement speech, they encouraged students to be artistic and use their imagination, no matter the field, saying, “Stop asking yourself if you have what it takes. You do.”

And they also commiserated about the start time of Commencement, which required students to assemble before 9 a.m.

“We graduated on this Green just like you, excited, tired, nervous, a little hungover. And today is no different,” cracked Miller.

“Why must it be so early?” Lord added. “Two o’clock sounds like a great time to graduate.”

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