Director and animator Jack Anderson works differently than most filmmakers. He matriculated from Chapman University where he spent his time studying at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. As an undergrad, he worked on his animated short film titled Wire Cutters. Upon first viewing, you may be reminded of Andrew Stanton’s highly regarded Pixar film Wall-E, but Wire Cutters deviates from Disney tropes and offers a more poignant narrative that stems from the biggest mistake we make in relationships: personal greed. Anderson previously explained to Short of the Week that, “My biggest inspiration for the story was to show how us humans are constantly ruining relationships over the smallest things.”
But first, let’s rewind back to how Wire Cutters came to be. For Anderson, he wanted to establish a mood, which he considers a unique process. Where filmmakers may tend to look for the story before all else, Anderson was focused on the mood that his project would exude. “I just had this vision in my head for a foggy and toxic planet with strong winds and creaky sounds,” he told 3DTotal. “I imagined rusty robots, long takes, and wide landscape shots, and minimal music. That was my mood.” With a strong idea of what his film would look like, he connected the mood to a personal experience that would ultimately breathe life into a narrative about personal relationships.
Wire Cutters takes place on a desolate planet and centers around an adorable mining robot who presumably serves as the film’s central protagonist. When the robot encounters another mining robot that’s much larger and stronger, it instinctively notices how the two can help each other. See, our protagonist, while decidedly small and weak, has the ability to locate gems encapsulated by rock. With the “adorable” robot scouting for gems, his large friend is able to crush the rock allowing them both to split the spoils. At this point Wire Cutters is very Wall-E adjace, but this is where Anderson deviates and explores a more grim outcome. Once the gem supply runs low in the area, the miners are at odds with one another as they fight over who gets the last one. It turns into a squabble with the smaller robot getting the best of his friend-turned-foe. But as a result, that mutually beneficial relationship is no more and our protagonist is left alone once again.
Wire Cutters is free of dialogue but the mood that Anderson placed great emphasis on during the film’s early stages commands attention. There’s no denying that there’s a similar aesthetic to Pixar’s rendering, but that only heightens Wire Cutter’s inevitable twist. “I tried to avoid Wall-E as much as possible because I realized a story about robots would inherently be compared,” Anderson continued with 3DTotal. “I think we both realized it takes a robot with big and sad eyes to dig into the audience’s soul.” But that’s where the comparison runs its course as Anderson had deeply rooted inspirations for making Wire Cutters.
At its core, Wire Cutters is about relationships and how we manage them over time. Anderson references childhood friendships and how as we grow older those connections become distant, purposefully or not. And the loss of those relationships are usually over trivial matters. Personally, I took Wire Cutters as a statement on relationships that are founded over what both parties can do for the other. When one forms a relationship with someone out of greed or what they can get out of that connection, then that relationship will inevitably have a minimal shelf life. Conversely, it’s easy to allow something small to drive a wedge between two people and let years pass without ever addressing it, but when time for reflection comes, and it always does, it’ll be hard to pinpoint an exact reason as to why we lost touch with our closest friends.