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Interview with Andrew Thomas Hunt, director of Spare Parts.
By James Whittington, Tuesday 27th October 2020
Spare Parts

FrightFest is all about the diversity of movies, none more so than Spare Parts from director Andrew Thomas Hunt. This superb mash-up of gladiator-style fighting and a scorching soundtrack is desitined to become a cult classic so we chatted to Andrew about this movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AH: I did - from the age of 16. I was a huge fan of David Cronenberg's films, and when I discovered that he was not only from Toronto, but made his films here, it made me realize you didn't have to be from Hollywood to make movies.

HC: How did you become attached to this wild project?

AH: It was pitched to me at TIFF (Toronto Int'l Film Festival) a few years ago by the writers. I loved the idea, so I attached myself to it as director. I had directed one feature previously and was looking for a fun genre film that tackled some of the same themes for my second film. Of course, it took some time for us to get it off the ground as getting financing for indie films isn't easy.

HC: Was it a hard movie to cast?

AH: We actually held open casting calls, and because it's so different from the usual films made in Toronto we had a lot of submissions - so that was great. We were looking for actresses who not only had acting chops, but who had the physicality and experience to do their own fighting and stunts. Michelle, Emily, Chelsea and Kiriana all rose to the top very early on, so that made my job of casting the girls quite easy. Our most challenging role to cast was actually Driller - we had 2 other actors cast for the role, but one dropped out 2 weeks before production (due to scheduling), and the other 2 days before production (due to a severe injury). So, we ended up finding and casting Ryan Allen in 24 hours, then driving him 3 hours to location the next day to be on set that night! He came in totally prepared, knowing all of his lines and with his own backstory for the character. He was a total pro, and oddly enough Ryan had done some courses led by Julian Richings back when he was in acting school.

HC: Julian Richings seems to be having a ball here, what was he like to work with?

AH: Julian is a consummate professional and such a genuinely nice guy. We had lunch together before he came on board to talk about the character and his motivations, and Julian totally got it. He sadly was only on set for 3 days, but he was such a pleasure to work with. I'm definitely eager to work with him again in the future.

HC: Was it all shot on location?

AH: Yes, we shot the Gridiron scenes in an actual auto wrecking yard. We picked a corner of the place that had the least debris, cleaned it, and then stacked the cars to form our arena. We then brought in 2 tons of sand so that the actors and stunt performers had softer earth to fight and roll around on.

HC: Some of the fight scenes are incredible, how long did the cast have to rehearse?

AH: We did one month of rehearsals for the fight scenes. Our stunt choreographer and I planned the beats and camera angles for each fight sequence in advance, then pre-visualized them on the iPhone. We then brought the girls in for a week of physicality training and taught them the exact choreography for the fights. Then when they got on set, they knew exactly what they were doing with zero variables involved. We would shoot each punch, swing, hit, and role exactly as pre-visualized and move on. That allowed us to shoot all 4 fight sequences in 6 days.

HC: Will the soundtrack get a release?

AH: Yes, we're definitely planning on it. Wade MacNeil and Andrew Gordon Macpherson did an awesome job.

HC: Who is the best rock band you've seen live?

AH: I cut my teeth directing music videos in the 90s, and one of my best buddies worked for the local radio station at the time, so between the two I got to see lots of great shows - saw Soundgarden from the side stage during Lollapalooza, had backstage passes for Nirvana, saw Radiohead premiere OK Computer in a tiny little club, Rage Against The Machine, The Prodigy, Beastie Boys, Depeche Mode, Sex Pistols, I've seen so many great bands it's honestly all a blur. But one of the most memorable was seeing an unknown band by the name of Guns n' Roses open up for The Cult back in 1987.

HC: You're a creative of many talents, do you have a favourite job?

AH: I truly do love directing. It's such a rush. Spinning all those plates at once, hoping nothing comes crashing down. Some days on set are fun & easy, other days are so stress filled and frustrating that you ask yourself "Why the f**k on earth am I doing this??". But when it all comes together in the end it makes it all worthwhile.

HC: Andrew T Hunt, thank you very much.

AH: My pleasure!


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