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New Friends ~ An Environmental Fable is an animated film that recounts the extinction of the dodo bird species. It employs a combination of traditional and digital animation techniques and won the award for best story at College of the Canyons' 2013 MEA Showcase.
- Release Date: June 7, 2013
- Running Time: 7 min.
- MPAA Rating: PG
- Director: Raul Flores
- Producer: Masha Vasilkovsky
- Writer: Raul Flores
WARNING: This section contains spoilers. If you do not want to find out what happens, skip to the next section.
The film opens with a view of Mauritius Island, home of the dodo birds. Down on the island, Papa Dodo gathers food for his mate, Mama Dodo, whom he gives the food to. She is watching over the eggs in her nest, in order to keep them warm. Having no natural enemies, they comfortably snuggle up and go to sleep.
The next day, the dodo squawks on the island wake up Mama and Papa Dodo. Seeing what the commotion is all about, Papa Dodo follows the other dodos to the coast. On the beach, they face the settlers from the S.S. Comis. Their captain, Captain Miguel, plants a flag in the sand and gives attention to the dodo Wobbles. As the settlers begin to move provisions onto the island, a rat races off their dinghy.
Back at the beach, the priest Father Juniper gives a sermon to the crew while patting Wobbles, who is sitting in his lap. Father Juniper reads a passage from the Bible about man's dominion over the animals, then thinks hungry thoughts about the bird on his lap.
Later, Abraham, who is not doing his work, drinks too much alcohol from his bottle and subsequently gets drunk. Wobbles, who has now left Father Juniper's company, watches Abraham stumble around, but screeches when Abraham fall on top of him. Abraham crushes Wobbles.
In the meantime, out on the beach, mean dodo Malcom squawks at the sailors' aggressive dog, who is being restrained by Old Salt. It does no good; the dog breaks the leash and mauls Malcom.
Out of food, Papa Dodo returns to Mama Dodo at their nest. However, to their surprise, the egg begins to wobble, indicating that it is hatching. Proud to have their young, the two dodos watch the nest, only to react in horror when a rat emerges from the egg. Mama Dodo is sad and Papa Dodo is angry.
Fed up with all that the humans have done, Papa Dodo races to the beach, only to find Mathias the Fat Chef collecting the carcasses of dead dodos. Papa Dodo reacts violently to the chef, but is no match for Mathias' power. Papa Dodo is captured, with a close-up of the face.
Pulling away from Papa Dodo, the scene changes to a deserted museum. Pulling away further, more taxidermy animals become visible, many of which are still alive today, as a narrator tells what happened to the dodos. In a big reveal, a banner reading "Hall of Extinction" comes into view, along with the silhouette of a guard. As the view turns around, however, it is revealed that the guard is dead. Behind him is the skyline of a ruined city, insinuating that a cataclysm befell mankind.
Early on in the Fall 2012 semester at College of the Canyons, development was done on another film titled The Hit Man. However, as development lagged un-enthusiastically on that project, CarTOON Shack head Raul Flores pitched the idea for a stop-motion animated cutout film then titled The Friend. The pitch showed large storyboards for the film, including several scenes cut from the final movie. With The Hit Man being an unpopular idea, it was canned in favor of Raul's idea.
The film was officially announced on September 28, 2012, with a then-projected release date on December 21, 2012 (a hint at the film's post-apocalyptic ending). It went through a few revisions that removed the humans' malicious nature, including a proposed scene of Abraham shoving alcohol down Wobbles' throat. Another scene, in which a felled tree would crush a dodo, was also removed.
Even though filming was completed on November 26, 2012, it quickly became clear that the film would not be done on time. A rough version was quickly assembled for the first presentation on December 12, but it was certain that work still needed to be done on the film, a thought Raul himself voiced that night. Over the winter and spring of 2013, true post-production work began, using perfected techniques employed for Gone Ice Fishin'.
It was finished just in time for the May 31, 2013 premiere at College of the Canyons' MEA Department Showcase, where instructor and professional scriptwriter Ron Mita handed out the award for best story to New Friends ~ An Environmental Fable. It proved to be a spectacular night, with the film being highly popular. It was finally released on June 7, 2013.
Despite the fact that the film has received very few views on YouTube, it has still become highly-revered by those who have seen it. Some, including assistant Andrew Bermudez, have called it "Mustache Maniacs Film Co.'s crowning achievement." The film also has a version on Vimeo.
- Papa Dodo (Arthur Smith)
- Mama Dodo (Christine Kurt)
- Wobbles (Arthur Smith)
- Malcom (Arthur Smith)
- Captain Miguel (Raul Flores)
- Father Juniper (Raul Flores)
- Mathias the Fat Chef (n/a)
- Abraham (Glen Darlington)
- Old Salt (n/a)
- Narrator (Trudi Radtke)
- Raul Flores - Director, Writer, Concept Artist, Animator, Storyboard Artist, Voice Actor
- Andrew Bermudez - Assistant Director, Editor, Digital Artist, Animator
- Masha Vasilkovsky - Producer, Instructor, Editor
- Teresa Bermudez - Advisor, Digital Artist
- Wierd Mike Karle - Digital Artist
- Arthur Smith - Voice Actor
- Christine Kurt - Voice Actor
- Glen Darlington - Voice Actor
- Trudi Radtke - Voice Actor
- The character of Father Juniper was named that in honor of Juniper, the villain from the never-made The Hit Man.
- In the rough version of the film, Raul Flores played the narrator. Trudi Radtke plays the part in the final film.
- The Hall of Extinction was not in the original version of the film; instead, the film ended with Papa Dodo stuffed in a glass case.
- When development for the film started, Papa Dodo and Mama Dodo were the only two characters that were named; the other characters were named later on.
- All of the backgrounds were hand-painted watercolor paintings.
- All of the artwork seen in the film was created by Raul Flores in separate pieces that were composited later.
- This film officially ended the partnership between Mustache Maniacs Film Co. and CarTOON Shack.