“Smile” premiered on NoBudge.com and will be screened at the Avant Edge Film Festival in Chicago. This short film blends realism and absurdity to tell the story of Emily, a patient who visits the dentist to have a cavity filled, but is surprised by what comes out of her mouth instead. A mix of stop-motion animation and live action performances capture the often uncomfortable and comedic dynamics of a situation that is both intimate and clinical.

Smile combines a naturalistic approach with surreal events for comedic effect. The visual style was inspired by documentary filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker, with particular emphasis on the 1993 film, “The War Room.” The cinematography of this film contrasts bold composition with off-the-cuff movement to emphasize both the absurdity and gravity of the filmed events. This mood felt like an ideal setting for “Smile,” so we adopted a pseudo-documentary approach to filming this short. This included rehearsing and filming long uninterrupted takes with few or no edit points, and improvising story beats as the actors interacted with the setting, tools, and each other. These creative choices were designed to represent a realistic scenario that eventually takes a very unrealistic turn.