Spare Parts, directed by Andrew Thomas Hunt, is a thrilling ride full of action and gore and girl power.
Spare Parts is set in a godforsaken bar in the middle of nowhere where an all-girl band – Ms. 45 – rips the stage apart with their punk spirit. But their performance impresses an enthusiastic fan who lures the girls into a trap, sedates them, and starts…customizing them. Slowly they begin to gain consciousness and, in total shock, realize their arms have all been replaced with axes and chainsaws to fight gladiator-style in a junkyard arena owned by a sadistic “emperor,” forcing them into the battle of their lives with one prize in mind – their freedom.
Spare Parts was written by David Murdoch (“The KNTV Show”) and Svet Rouskov (“Darken: Before the Dark”), the film stars Julian Richings (Chaos Walking), Michelle Argyris (“General Hospital”), Emily Alatalo (Mother!), Kiriana Stanton (“The Expense”) and Chelsea Muirhead (“Slo Pitch”).
Check out our Q & A with Andrew!
How did you come to be the director of this film?
Andrew: Like 12 years ago I did my first film, Sweet Karma, and out of that came Raven Banner. We formed Raven Banner as a sales company for genre films and then we got into distribution. So, you know I spent the better part of the last decade helping other filmmakers get their films made and get them out there. But, you know, I knew deep down that I wanted to direct again. I got into this business to be a director. And about six years ago, I was pitched a bunch of ideas from this writing team (David Murdoch and Svet Rouskov) and this was one of the ideas that they pitched to me. And I mean we gravitated towards it. I love the idea of it, I love the concept. And I loved that it was basically a genre mashup. And so I attached myself as the director with the caveat that I could not rewrite it but work with them on tweaking the story.
Can you describe your approach to directing?
Andrew: One of the things that I tried to do is to not watch films that are too closely related to the film that I’m working on, you know? I mean, like you want to draw inspiration from films but at the same time you don’t want to be like, consciously riffing off of them. I’m a lifelong film fan so there’s a lot of stuff that’s just there in my subconscious that I guess I’m drawing from when I’m making a film. But one of the things that was important to me was to watch a lot of action films and watch the action sequences in particular. We’ve never tackled anything that demanding before. When it came to the fight choreography, I had a great fight team that I could rely on but still, I didn’t want to have to 100 percent rely on them. I want to make sure that I kind of understood how to best approach the fight scenes, so that at least I had my stamp on it, so. So yeah, I watched a lot of action films prior to making this.
Speaking of the action in the fight scenes. Were those difficult to shoot?
Andrew: Yeah, we had a production schedule of 18 days and we used six of those days to shoot the action sequences. There are four big action sequences in the film and that’s not a lot of time. Like you know, a Marvel movie probably spends 18 days just on one action sequence alone, you know what I mean, that was our entire production schedule. So, for us, the key was pre-visualizing everything, like, we’ll work in all the beats and angles of the fight and we shot and edited that together and made sure that that was working. That allowed us to shoot very quickly and efficiently.
Wow, 18 days, that doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time.
Andrew: It’s insane, you know, a million dollars doesn’t get a lot of days on set. So, the film was shot handheld, we might have had like the odd, you know, tracking shot, but we had to shoot fast and furious. We were literally building our set as we were shooting it. We’d be shooting in one direction, as the rest of it is being built behind us. That’s the challenge of low budget filmmaking.
There were some really graphic and gory bits, do you ever get grossed out by your own work?
Andrew: Unfortunately not. I’m really desensitized to all that, I guess, for better or for worse. Cronenberg was a big influence on me as well as the films of Peter Jackson, Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles and Dead Alive. A lot of the trauma films I’ve seen are the goriest of gore films. I think it’s actually quite fun and comical when we do those scenes.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Andrew: So, we shot the film up in Sudbury, Ontario, which is about three hours north to Toronto and then we shot in the actual, like, metal recycling facility and we shot the the auto wrecking yard in an actual auto wrecking yard. And I found, you know, again we’re shooting so fast and furious, it was stressful to be on set, but I kind of thrive in that environment. But we came to Toronto and we shot the bar fight and the band performance at a bar, that was like our one scene that we shot here, and we shot that at the end of our production schedule. Those were our last two days of shooting and I was able to bring up family and friends to be in the crowd and the audience. And by that point I’d, you know, kind of gone through all the hell and the torture of shooting up north and outdoors in horrible weather conditions, so to shoot indoors, to have family and friends around, and to shoot the beginning of the film, that was a really fun scene to shoot. Yeah, that was definitely my favorite part of filming.
Did COVID affect filming at all?
Andrew: No, we shot this back in September-October of 2018. We started filming, like the last week of September and went into the first couple weeks of October. I actually shot my third film, The Fight Machine, and we wrapped production last year, March of 2020, and literally one week later the shit hit the fan with COVID and, you know, we were in lockdown.
The cast was amazing, what was it like working with them?
Andrew: They were all amazing. Julian Richings was a dream to work with. He’s the legendary Canadian actor, and he’s a true actor. He can really kind of inhabit any role that’s given to him. The actresses were all amazing. You know, I really had literally hundreds of actresses from around Toronto that put in self tapes or sent in headshots for these roles, but these four girls really were the cream of the crop. They all rose up very quickly because they could act, and they actually had stunt and fighting abilities. They didn’t have to fake it. And so they were able to learn a lot of what they needed to do very quickly.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add about this movie?
Andrew: I’m just really happy and thrilled that it’s getting out there, finally, into the world. This took a long time to make, I spent almost a year editing it myself, so I’m just thrilled that all the hard work and effort that the actors put into it, the crew put into it, is now finally going to be seen by people.