"Our faces will be in the papers!"
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.
"Stop it! Stop it! You're ruining everything!"
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, to whom he gives the food. 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 on to 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 started 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 for time.
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 everyone agreed 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 animator and producer Andrew Bermudez, have called it "Mustache Maniacs Film Co.'s crowning achievement."
- 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, Producer, 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
- Best Story (MEA Showcase; 2013)
- Best Traditional Animation Short Film (The Second Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards; 2014)
- Best Short Film (The Second Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards; 2014)
- Best Sound Design (The Second Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards; 2014)
- Best Screenplay (The Second Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards; 2014)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Trudi Radtke as Narrator; The Second Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards; 2014)
- Best Actress in a Leading Role (Christine Kurt as Mama Dodo; The Second Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards; 2014)
- Best Picture (The Second Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards; 2014)
"Stop it! Stop it! You're ruining everything!"
New Friends ~ An Environmental Fable contains examples of the following tropes.
- After the End: Where the Hall of Extinction is located. Canonically, the year for that setting is 5481.
- Artistic License - History: While the film depicts the extinction of the dodo bird, there are some more-or-less inaccuracies in this film.
- The film depicts the male dodos squawking like parrots, even though they probably sounded more like Mama Dodo's cooing in real life. Some believe that this is where they got their name.
- Mathias the Fat Chef runs around, butchering the dodos for a feast for the crew, even though historical records confirm that the dodo's flesh was tough and oily, making it inedible to humans.
- The film depicts the Portuguese claiming the island for their country, even though the Portuguese in real life stayed on the island only for a short period of time, as they were not interested in the island. They did, however, establish a small visiting port.
- In the film, the dodo population immediately begins to decline moments after the Portuguese set foot on-shore. In reality, the dodo population began to see sharp declines after the Dutch claimed the island in 1598.
- The film only shows dogs and rats killing the dodos, when additional animals, such as pigs, cats, and macaques, also contributed to their extinction.
- Continuity Nod: One of the animals on display in the Hall of Extinction is the Yeti from Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo.
- Downer Ending: The film ends with an implication that mankind, not learning from their past mistakes, destroys the environment and drives every organism to extinction.
- Dumb Dodo Bird: This film centers around the extinction of the Dodo Bird, so dodos are everywhere in this film. However, the character of Wobbles is the only dodo here that is actually dumb.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Though it is hard to see, the flashlight that the dead guard holds in the last shot is emblazoned with the Solarum Industries logo. At the time of this film's release, the release of the film that properly introduced the company, Solarum, was still over a year away.
- Endangered Species: Naturally, the dodos are this.
- Evil Chef: The character of Mathias the Fat Chef.
- Extinct in the Future: The final scene, which takes place in the year 5841, depicts a derelict Earth where everything is extinct, including humans.
- Fearless Fool: Because the dodo birds had lived with no natural predators, they see no danger in approaching Captain Miguel's crew.
- Green Aesop: The film's message is that, if the over-consumption of Earth's resources continues in the fashion demonstrated by the crew of the S.S. Comis, then the planet may very well become a desolate and lifeless wasteland.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: The dodos are mostly pleasant and friendly to one another, as well as the humans. Malcom the dodo bully, however, subverts this trope.
- Humans Are Bastards: On the other hand, the humans do little more than bring destruction to the island of Mauritius, albeit in a negligent manner. The most villainous member of the crew turns out to be Mathias, who intentionally slaughters the dodos.
- In Harmony with Nature: The island of Mauritius is like this prior to the arrival of the S.S. Comis.
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Papa Dodo and Mama Dodo are the only dodos on the island that are nursing offspring. It turns out to be naught, as a rat eats the egg from the inside.
- Predators Are Mean: Both the dog and the rat contribute to the extinction of the dodo birds.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: The ruined city at the end of the film is set against a reddish, smoky sky.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The dodos were made into adorable, Snoopy-like animals to make the audience sympathize with them and their plight.
- Right-Hand Attack Dog: The sailors have one, though Abraham does try to hold it back in the film.
- Scenery Gorn: The view from the hole in the wall in the Hall of Extinction is this.
- Scenery Porn: Mauritius Island is depicted with lush foliage and shimmering beaches, all created with watercolor paintings by director Raul Flores.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film depicts the arrival of humans on Mauritius Island, but all of the characters depicted were fictionalized. The film, however, does not claim to recreate the historical events.
- You Dirty Rat!: A rat escapes from the humans' rowboat and manages to eat Mama Dodo's unhatched young.
- Hidden Character: As the camera pulls out from Papa Dodo at the end of the film, revealing the Hall of Extinction, one of the creatures that can be seen on display is the Yeti from Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo. It's located in the back of the hall to the right.
- 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 at Oxford.
- 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 in production.
- 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.