Joseph Bennett is an animator and director who lives in Pasadena, California. His style is incredibly unique and his storytelling is refreshingly original and incredibly relatable.
Right out of the gate, the narrative of this piece leaves the audience with questions. Viewers are thrown into a foreign world that the scavengers know all too well, which is discovered by the audience with each new scene. This film is a series of fetch-quests that only lead to more fetch-quests. Usually, this kind of storytelling is cheap, (see The Rise of Skywalker) but Bennett crafts this strange, disturbing world in such a way that makes the audience simultaneously gag and raise and eyebrow with each new item retrieved. This film of pure fetch-quests is never boring or predictable.
But why? What is the point of this film? What is Bennett trying to say?
I interpret Scavengers as a metaphor for life. In an industrialized world, so many of our daily activities are only so we can do another activity, which will then allow us to do something else, which will eventually lead us to having a few precious moments of solace. We go to work so we can make money, which allows us to eat, which means we will live to see another day and go to work again. Eventually, after enough work days, years, and decades are accumulated, you can have a blissful retirement—just like you've always dreamed of!
Another interpretation is that we spend so much time looking for what's next that we don't appreciate what's around us. The Scavengers spend a lot of effort so they can go back to where home used to be for them, even though they know that it's probably impossible to go back in person. And yet, they have a beautiful (albeit, weird) world around them that has a lot to offer. I see this film as a commentary on dwelling too much on what was and not seeing reality for what it is.
The matte painted backgrounds were done by Charles Huettner and Joseph Bennett. They're beautiful, detailed, and give the audience many questions that are never answered. I love how each creature is unique and unexpected. Nothing looks like a cheap Star Wars or Star Trek ripoff, which makes the story feel more immersive. Surrounded by complex backgrounds and creatures, the two main characters are simple and plain. When they stick their heads into the big blue ball and see the city, they are once again surrounded by simple drawings. The blending of 2D and 3D is smooth and crisp, which is a stark juxtaposition to the frantic alien landscape.
There are some great moments in this piece. Here are a few of my favorites:
This opening show does a great job at conveying tension and mystery. I love the floating debris and the exploding escape pods.
This show made me go "wow." The properties of water and smoke are both captured in a grand way that is added to by the weight of the creature.
This shot strikes me with how creative it is. I wouldn't have expected the scavenger to use the bagged bug as a glider. So great.