Spare Parts Director Andrew Thomas Hunt on Filmmaking Growing Pains

Nobody said becoming a filmmaker was easy as Spare Parts director Andrew Thomas Hunt would tell you. His previous film, which was his directorial debut, was Sweet Karma, released 12 years ago. The six-year journey to get his latest film funded allowed to start filming back in 2018. I spoke to the filmmaker about his company Raven Banner Entertainment, inspiration, and the constraints of getting an action film made on an indie budget. Spare Parts follows an all-girl punk band who gets kidnapped, maimed, and forced to gladiatorial combat with their newfound replacement limbs to amuse a sadist and his followers.

Spare Parts Director Andrew Thomas Hunt on Filmmaking Growing Pains
Image courtesy of RLJE Films

"I was at the Toronto International Film Festival six years ago, and I was there with my company," Hunt recalled. "We were a fledgling genre company, but in the industry, for a few years, so people were aware of us. Screenwriters from Scotland came and pitched us a bunch of ideas for films, and [Spare Parts] was one of them. I immediately gravitated towards it and [one] had a writing partner here in Toronto. I decided early on that I would attach myself to the project with the caveat that I work with the writers to make some significant changes to the script. Svet [Rouskov], the Toronto-based writer, and I sat down. I pitched him my ideas, tweaks, and whatnot fleshing out the final script. Like any film, it took some time to get the financing together. I shot a proof of concept for a few years ago, used those to do some early presales on the film, and the rest of the financing came in place. We went to camera in September 2018."

Spare Parts Director Andrew Thomas Hunt on Filmmaking Growing Pains
Image courtesy of RLJE Films

Spare Parts was originally shot in Northern Ontario as Hunt reflected on how far along he came from his first and second films. "I shot Sweet Karma for $100,000 and Spare Parts for a $1 million," he said. "We worked with such a tight budget. We shot this film in 18 days and Sweet Karma in 21 days. The thing you learn is 'preparation is key.' If something goes wrong, you can't get an extra day of production. You can't do reshoots, recast, nor do any of these things a bigger budget film has the luxury of doing. I storyboarded every single scene in the film just so that I could even the simplest of scenes so that I could wrap my head around it visually."

Spare Parts Director Andrew Thomas Hunt on Filmmaking Growing Pains
Image courtesy of RLJE Films

Hunt analyzed the more cerebral aspects of his directing. "When you are working on a script, you're thinking in a different frame than the director's brain," he said. "You're thinking more in terms of story than when you're writing. As a director, you start thinking of imagery. It's easy to come up with a story, but then it's 'How am I going to shoot that story and conveys it to the audience?' A lot of preparation was done. We prepped all the fight sequences, went to the location, and figured out how exactly we were going to shoot on location. We didn't have sets. We built the arena where they fought at an auto-wrecking yard. All those cars were there, and we had to clear the ground of debris so that they could fight [safely] and not injure themselves."

Spare Parts Director Andrew Thomas Hunt on Filmmaking Growing Pains
Image courtesy of RLJE Films

When it came to casting, the only thing Hunt was sure initially was casting star Julian Richings as the Emperor. "I was really thrilled because he's a Toronto-based actor, and he's always open to doing indie films," he said. "I was very thankful that he agreed to meet me for lunch that day. We had a great connection, and he agreed to come on board. The rest was just an open casting call. The rest is an open casting call for all of the female leads. There's not a lot of opportunities for actresses to do films like this, certainly not in Toronto. We had an amazing number of auditions, tapes, and headshots sent. I was really thankful that the four leads that I did get were not only great actresses, but they all had stunt training. They all had the physicality needed to do what was required of them."

Spare Parts Director Andrew Thomas Hunt on Filmmaking Growing Pains
Courtesy of RLJE Films

Hunt admitted getting his own films made takes a lot of patience and networking, helping other visionary filmmakers get their projects made for his company. "We get pitched and involved with a lot of films," he said. "We generally touch on some of the projects that are compelling to us or that have filmmakers that we admire like Steve Kostanski for Psycho Goreman. I just want to make sure that the film has some interesting themes, characters, and a story that I want to tell because filmmaking is a long, tedious process. You have to live with that film for a long time. It's this idea of being a perfect filmmaker, certainly right off the bat, and to kind of allow yourselves to yourself to explore and make mistakes and learn as you go." For filmmakers, Hunt cited Sidney Lumet as inspiration, "'If you get a chance to make a movie, make a movie because you will learn from it and you will grow as a filmmaker." RLJE Films' Spare Parts, which also stars Michelle Argyris, Emily Alatalo, Kiriana Stanton, Chelsea Muirhead, and Ryan Allen, is available on VOD, Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray.

 

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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