The Spares

3.536365
Average: 3.5 (11 votes)
The Fish-Out-of-Water Movie
Christchurch > 09
Starring Laura Irish, Jeff Clark, and Daniel Allan - with support from Zac Beckett-Knight, Kirsty Gillespie, Ness Clark, David Searle, Vanessa Wells, and Kris Finnerty. Directed by Vanessa Wells. Cinematography Zac Beckett-Knight. Music composition by Kris Finnerty. Story by TBALC. Produced by David Searle This was a hell of a lot of fun to make. Great to have Dan back after 8 years away!
kiwidoc
5.04

Very enjoyable - some tongue in cheek jokes, neat characterisation and ending that obviously took many by surprise.

A band of 'spare' animals procreate to produce a new creature.
I thought the opening scenes were very well polished, from the footsteps on the dock, to the cages.
Some creative use of silhouette.
I did see the ending coming, but felt slightly confused as to the outcomes of the 3 main animals and their matching offspring- how would that come about?
Well done for attempting a biblical epic, but I felt some of the less serious cutaways let this piece down, especially in comparison to the opening scenes, it felt like this short deteriorated. It also relied more heavily on the performances of the actors, rather than costumes, which led to me taking a while to process what was going on with the people in the cages (I was a bit slow in reading the signs and can't remember what the first ones said).
Where did you find the creature at the end? Or was it stock footage?
Thanks for your film,
4/7 mini-guns from me

MistaTeas
4.06

Noah's Ark has come to shore and on board there are all the animals happy in their twos...and then there are The Spares; a duck, a beaver and an otter? who only have each other.

So, if we move past that this was nicely shot, edited and in general, produced what else do we have? An expert trio of actors in a single location setting up a punch-line (albeit clever) through a bit of back-in-forth in ho-hum, "I'm sad" dialogue. And also a scene played for humorous WTF value. So, I think Ultra screwed this particular TBALC team up. For once, the costuming really didn't sell the idea - the animals looked more like homeless people and so it felt confusing even if it was plainly obvious what they were supposed to be. Elements of this short work but overall it feels as if the synergy is missing this year.

Glad you guys had a lot of fun making this, we could tell!

Great story, brilliant one liners throughout. I could see where it was probably going to go as soon as one of them started talking about how it's just them three left, but was still pretty shocked when it went there.

You guys are awesome, have been for a number of years now, and it was great to see you make a film that you wanted to make and that even after being here for so many years you choose not to fall into any pressure to be the best (cause whenever a team does that they tend to end up not liking whatever they end up with). I hope you never leave the competition ever.

Good concept, but considering TBALC’s line up of absolutely amazing concepts what’s above average for the comp becomes below average for an above average team.

Cute take on Ultra, although I kinda wish this team had actually worked with children or animals I would have loved to see what they could have done with real human children

What TBALC has put together they undoubtedly pulled off and pulled off with style, the way this film develops is especially pleasing. Thank you for going all the way. It was marvellous

I feel like a bit of a dick for saying this... but within the first two minutes of the film I leaned over to the person sitting next to me and just wispered one word...

Great use of stock footage too, this film wouldn’t have been possible or wouldn’t have been as good 2 years ago before that rule came in.

City Finalist no doubt.

TBALC are the CHCH standard of film making. Such an awesome team and this years film didn't disappoint at all. How you guys constantly manage to come up with seemingly never done before, incredibly clever concepts is beyond me. This film was so well done. The opening shots and sound effects were so convincing for me I genuinely believed that shot where must have been walking on someones deck outside was actually on a boat/Arc.

Ultra was such a tough challenge this year and you guys not only embraced it but came up with a concept that was extremely clever from it. I liked the loose interpretation of the costumes for the animals and I feel like the Ultra teams this year have to be given some imaginative licence. In previous years 48hours has always done well to come up with elements that everyone has access to. Leafs, puddles etc. But the ultra challenge this year pushed things a bit far in my opinion as not everyone has access to animals and children. So I liked your take on it.

I really can't say much bad about this film. The concept was great and the payoff was great too. I missed quite a few important lines of dialogue due to audience laughter but thats not your fault. So even the ending missed with me initially as I hadn't quite heard what all 3 of the animals were. So can't wait to see it again. Maybe the only thing was the final shot/reveal seemed to happen a bit suddenly for me but again perhaps I missed the dialogue leading up to it due to crowd laughter.

Beautiful cinematography, script, acting, sound and set design. Easily another CHCH finalist.

UPDATE: I feel compelled to do an update to this review after saying how many lines I felt like I missed the first time around. After having seen it for a second time now I just wanna say I absolutely love it and am more clear overall on the concept and heard all the amazingly clever jokes this time. The Corkscrew OMG!

But I also feel I know now the only small thing that took this film down from what could have easily been the CHCH winner spot. I think after setting up such a beautiful world where humans are animals and acted out so well the ending shot just takes the audience out of that fantastic last moment. Having a modern day documentary shot with no slow reveal was just too sudden. I think all it might have taken would have been a few seconds of black perhaps with text saying "6000 years later". And you could have had that shot playing on a TV in a lounge where you hear the narrator's voice first before showing the TV screen for more punchline reveal. But I know how hard this can be under the 5 minute rule sometimes. I felt the same thing with our own ending reveal this year where you are trimming every second you can off to squeeze it under 5mins. Overall though it was still one of my personal top 3 CHCH films this year. Totally Loved it. Well done.

(DISCLAIMER: Before this year, I was a member of this team continuously since 2007. Which isn't to say I'm biased or anything (honest!); just that it's goddamn weird being on the other side, reviewing a TBALC film for a change...)

From the start, this is a great-looking film. And I mean literally the start, because that opening shot was gorgeous. My brain took a while to process what I was even looking at, especially whether it was real or animated - the combination of what I believe was a real location / model miniature / digital background combo was quite arresting. This, coupled with the next shot of presumably our man Noah walking across the ark's deck and through a puddle, were a simple yet effective pair of establishing images, and the use of light/colour conveyed a beautifully Turner-esque post-storm vibe.

We go below-decks, with a spiritual sequel to the opening of New Fish as we see a selection of pairs of animals chilling out in their lodgings, getting ready to disembark. Then we come to a room with three mismatched animals - the "spares" of the title, as a sign helpfully clarifies. All of the animals in this film are performed by human actors (a clever platform for fulfilling the Ultra requirement), and the genius of their presentation is that there is no effort to literalise the animals; instead, we get human costume analogs for each animal. Thus, penguins are in tuxes, a duck wears a petticoat for tail feathers, and so on. On top of this, each actor channels the physical mannerisms of their given animal, and the result is overall very amusing and satisfying to watch.

So, our three spares head off excitedly to go find mates, but soon return dejected, realising that there's no one out there for them. They commiserate and do what anyone would do in similar circumstances: drink. This sets up the single best gag in the film, and one that I laughed at much too loudly at the heat screening. This all leads to the arguably inevitable conclusion of this situation, which then facilitates the 'punchline' of the film. Now, with an awareness of what the species of the three animals are, I understand that some picked the ending before it came. For myself, I totally didn't guess it, and it came as a delightful surprise. It may have been written backwards from that ending, not sure, but for me the film was working satisfactorily well as just exploring the trials of mate-less animals post-deluge, onto which the capper was merely a bonus.

If I have to find some niggles then okay, the line of dialogue near the end essentially explaining what the three characters were about to do felt a bit unnecessary. Also, I might have liked for the reveal of the "SPARES" sign to be delayed a bit, so that when our three characters head off at the start to find mates we can share in their naivete at least for a little while. (Then again, as counterpoint to the latter quibble, the sequence of signs at the start ending with SPARES, and then with the overlaid text to complete the title card, was a very classy moment.)

To my mind, this was classic TBALC on display, with a high concept premise, excellent performances and witty writing. It also had great production values, and is a worthy challenger to The Silent Man as TBALC's sexiest-looking short. And I was smiling (except when I was laughing) all the way through, which is perhaps the most important metric. Great stuff.

Beautiful looking short. Great acting and dialogue. Would have loved to see you guys take the ultra challenge to actually work with animals rather than be them - I think you would have nailed it.

A rather enjoyable film, and a solid attempt at Ultra. I was a little unsure, however of what animal the grey looking one was.

And yea, I’m gonna be that guy that points out that in the OG tale of Noah, they were actually on board for about a year, or around 220 days till they were resting on the mountain as seen in your film. This sort of thing sticks out at me like a sore thumb and shows that you haven’t really done your research on the story you’re parodying. Of course, your joke wouldn’t have worked otherwise, but that’s only because the audience is just as uneducated. Maybe you could’ve replace the line with a more accurate amount of time, followed a fourth wall breaking “it’s actually a common misconception that we were only in here for 40 days and 40 nights.”

The other thing I’d note is that I think that we needed a little more breathing room after those killer jokes, as the audience laughter really did make it hard to hear some dialogue, so that’s something I think you have to account for in the edit. Unfortunately I didn’t get the final punchline until after the screening when someone mentioned it to me, I think due to the fact that I missed something at the end there.

All around though, a great 48 Hour film and no doubt we will see it go further in the competition.

nshady
4.06

As usual, TBALC excels with the technicals, delivering a high quality film and some very memorable visuals. Great use of silhouette and an impressive soundtrack too. I didn't see the smash cut at the end coming and enjoyed that a lot. I was surprised to feel it sag somewhat in places - some slow cuts and delivery lost a bit of the pace and comedy for me, and the single location felt a bit constrained. You didn't quite sell the animals with costuming and I found them a little bit ambiguous, which was unfortunate. I also feel a little bit torn on the Ultra of it all - in my mind the goal of doing that is to add another level of challenge, and you kind of skirted around it by using adults. I would have like to see you embrace it and come up with a concept that used actual children or animals. The judges seem to have allowed teams to get away with this loophole, so it's not up to me, but I felt a bit disappointed to see you not take the swing. Nevertheless, always fun to see what you come up with - looking forward to what you bring next year!

Alexander Jones
city manager

I think the only way to properly review this film is to do it in two parts, reviewing the film as it's own thing, and then reviewing it in the context of TBALC and their legacy, because other reviewers are treating these like they're the same thing which seems a little unfair.

As it's own thing, "The Spares" immediately struck with it's super clean cinematography, that gorgeous opening shot of Noah's ark on the beach, and the wonderful production design of the animal enclosures. Was this the same set from "New Fish"? Or do TBALC just secretly have access to a bunch of different prisons?

I really enjoyed the acting as well, as with Submission Impossible, I don't know if there is any one stand out, but if there was ever a film that made a case to include a 'Best Ensemble Award' next year, it's this one.

So after setting up a really fun and fresh premise, we get into the story which is paced well enough for it to never feel like it's dragging along despite being set in only one location. I didn't personally see the twist coming, but many others have, and perhaps this is something you expected, as the "how did the platypus get made" joke feels vaguely familiar, like something my grandfather would have told me when I was a toddler. What's the takeaway here though? Make it less obvious? Maybe. Could there have been more characters involved, and by the end the spares are all that are left? I'm getting into retooling, which is bad for a reviewer and a city manager, so these are just my thoughts.

The dialogue is great as well, along with the aforementioned acting, "Does anyone have a corkscrew?" is a line so strikingly hilarious, but at the same time super subtle, that those in the audience who got it could be heard in a bubbling giggle that rose up to surface. Naughty TBALC! Dirty Joke! Please include even dirtier jokes next year :)

In terms of ULTRA, I do think that this was kind of a cheat, as others have said, and maybe this is something I should be talking about more in the second part of this review, but yeah, the animals idea is cool, and obviously you couldn't have used real animals (can you imagine), but for a team as prestigious as you guys it was kind of like "Oh, okay they're doing it this way".

So that brings us to TBALC then as a team.

I'll continue on with ULTRA thoughts regarding this.. While I love all your actors and look forward to seeing who'll take center stage each year, I was more surprised than I was disappointed that this was the route you went down. What I guess I'm saying is I am fascinated by the idea of seeing a TBALC film about kids going on an adventure a'la "ET" or "Stranger Things", this was the heart behind ULTRA being what it was this year, and I guess it's a bit of a bummer that Christchurch's favourite sons (and daughters) didn't dive headfirst into this, and now there'd be no reason to do it again.

You guys were nominated for 7 awards, which was the most out of any team, but as it all ended up playing out, you didn't take home any of them, which is a pain I know and feel (and I know you guys know that I know... that), so I thought, while the wounds (if there are any) may still be a little tender, that this puts your team and its future in an interesting kind of place, because of all the awards you were nominated for, you were probably second place for almost all of them. IS THIS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO HEAR!? WHO KNOWS LET'S KEEP GOING! This is by no means a bad thing, it just means while "The Spares" excelled in so many ways, there just ended up being at least one other that cut the mustard a little more effectively.

What all of this means then, is that you guys at TBALC have settled into a comfortable place, where you make the competition look so easy, but at the same time that comfortability has become a safety net. Do you guys continue to work within your boxes and make great films year after year which, while being amazing are more of a master of none as opposed to jack of a single trade? Or do you attempt something truly striking and different and powerful and grab that Apee for a fifth time?

"The Spares" is wonderfully executed film, and I absolutely loved it, and while I'm not saying the judges are harsher on you guys because you're so good, I am saying that other teams are quickly catching up to your level, and some already have, and a couple may even be surpassing.

I hope this isn't too harsh or mean, I just know how much value you guys put in feedback so I'm trying to be as thorough as possible, and I'm trying to invigorate you to the point where you put me in the difficult position of having to award TBALC with city winner for a fifth fucking time.

As for your title, "The Spares" is great because as soon as we land on them in the panning shot of Noah's ark, we know exactly what game we're playing.

ProfessorM
6.02

And the award for Best Colour Grading goes to...

A lot of people have talked about how difficult Ultra was this year. I personally found TBALC's answer to this challenge to be both worthy and elegant in it's simplicity. That's all I'll say about that.

A strong set-up led to a great title reveal - we all knew what we were in for from that point. Great performances with snappy, clever lines (DO either of you guys have a corkscrew? Asking for a friend...) and beautifully subtle animal twitches and movements. I must admit, I called the ending (in my head, I'm not one of THOSE people) as soon as they revealed the three species of animals, but it didn't make the remainder of the film any less enjoyable. Laura once again shows why she is 48Hours royalty, with Jeff and Daniel right up there with her.

Thanks TBALC, this was a lot of fun.