Friends in Colorado! We are honored to announce that The Smiling Man is an Official Selection of the 2016 Telluride Horror Show! We will be celebrating our Colorado Premiere with a curated selection of genre features and shorts at the historic Sheridan Opera House and Nugget Theatre in Telluride, Colorado! The event runs over three days from October 14-16. Writer/Director AJ Briones will be in attendance!

TIckets are limited, so if you're looking to get them, you should do so today! Click the button below to get them from the Telluride Horror Show website:

About the Telluride Horror Show

The Telluride Horror Show, Colorado's first and longest-running horror film festival, returns for its 7th edition October 14-16, 2016. Every year, the festival attracts the latest & best horror films from all over the world and attendees from all over the country for an intimate gathering of genre film fans in the world-famous mountain resort town of Telluride, Colorado. For three days and nights, experience an eclectic mix of horror, suspense, thriller, fantasy, sci-fi and dark comedy in Telluride's historic Sheridan Opera House and Nugget Theatre, with many of the films showing for the first time in the US. The festival features an average of 25 feature films and 50 short films, and hosts special programs, guests, and events. If you love horror, and film, then you can't miss this fest. Named one of the "20 Coolest Film Festivals" by Moviemaker Magazine.

Find out more on their website at

Official Selection - San Francisco Frozen Film Festival 2016

Friends in San Francisco! The Smiling Man returns on July 23 at the iconic Roxy Theatre for the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival! We will be screening on Saturday, July 23 at 10pm for the Best Dramatic Thrilling Shorts block with a curated selection of films!

Click the button below for tickets!

About the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival

The San Francisco Frozen Film Festival is held every summer in the heart of the Mission district in San Francisco at the Roxie Theatre. Filmmakers whose work is accepted into the festival are invited to come to the city by the bay in the dead of summer to screen and discuss their work.

Find out more on their website at

Official Selection - Scare LA 2016

The Smiling Man comes back to Los Angeles, as part of Shriekfest's Festival Block at the iconic ScareLA! The convention rocks out August 6-7 with official host Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark running the show! We are proud to be one of 74 films selected to screen out of 2,100 submissions from 20 countries! On top of that, the convention features exhibitors, classes, presentations, experiences and more!

Come see The Smiling Man the way it was intended: in a dark room full of horror fans! Cast and crew will be in attendance!

As soon as the organizers sort out screening dates and times, we'll let you know! Meanwhile, you can check out the film's page here:

About Scare LA

ScareLA premiered in 2013 as the first fan convention dedicated to celebrating Halloween. Situated in the entertainment capital of the world, it combines the city’s top talent and unique cultural setting with a twist! Drawing fans and haunt entertainment professionals, the event features top attraction designers and operators, manufacturers, artists, filmmakers and more. The weekend-long Halloween season teaser celebrates California’s hottest scary faire with attraction unveils, workshops and classes, top industry panels, haunt tours, screenings and activities. Share, inspire, play – ScareLA.

Find out more on their website at


Official Selection - Calgary Horror Con

Friends in Calgary! We're excited to announce that The Smiling Man is an Selection of the 2016 Calgary Horror Con! The festival kicks off June 11-12 at the Clarion Hotel in Calgary with a fantastic lineup of films, vendors and special guests! Stay tuned for ticketing and schedule information!

About the Calgary Horror Con

The Calgary Horror Con is the first Convention in Canada dedicated to Horror. The Convention is a gathering for the community of fans who love all forms of horror; be it cinema, literature, live performance, or art. From the initial idea sprung a grassroots movement by a group of volunteers, and the support of amazing local Alberta talent.

Find out more on their website at


Official Selection - Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival 2016

We're so happy to announce that we'll be making our return to Arizona with our Official Selection to the 2016 Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival! The festival takes place June 9-12 with a fantastic curated lineup of features, shorts and music videos. As soon as we have scheduling and ticketing information, we'll let you know!

Check out the full lineup of features, shorts and music videos at

About the Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival

Founded by filmmakers for filmmakers/film lovers and artistic spirits alike comes the Jerome 89A Film & Music Festival; a defiantly raw and independent destination festival that takes place in one of the most beautiful regions of Arizona.  Recognized by Aud News as one of the top 15 Film & Music Festivals in the world and voted one of the top 52 weekend adventures by Phoenix Magazine, the festival encourages guests to step out of their comfort zone and dive into adventure mode.

Find out more on their website at

Official Selection - Maremetraggio 2016 International Short Film Festival

We are excited to announce the Italian Premiere of The Smiling Man at Maremetraggio 2016, the International Short Film Festival! We will be screening at the piazza Verdi in the beautiful Trieste, Italy! It's going to be 9 days of screenings, special events, workshops, Q&A's and more, and we are proud to announce that we will be in competition for the Best Short Film award against other award-winning short films from around the world.

As the festival draws nearer, we will be updating this space with more information. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, if you want to check out the list of films in the Maremetraggio section, click here:

About the International Shorts Film Festival

The XVII Edition of ShorTS –International Film Festival is getting closer! The Festival, lauded in Italy and everywhere around the world, will take place in Trieste, Italy, from 1th to 9th of July 2016, in the magnificent piazza Verdi, full by film lovers.  As usual, we offer you 9 days of excitement and promising new cinema.

Screening marathon, special events, workshops, cocktail parties, happenings, Q&As, meetings with actors and film-makers – we’ll have it all! The Festival is dedicated to young cinema, and always attracts many guests, new talents and film celebrities from all over the world, as well as tourists, eager to enrich their experiences in Trieste and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.

Find out more on their website at

Official Selection - Crypticon Seattle 2016

Friends in Seattle! We'll be heading your way in May as an official selection of Crypticon Seattle 2016! We'll be screening with an amazing curated selection of horror shorts May 27-29, along with great exhibitors, special events and VIP guests like Elvira, Lance Henricksen, Michael Biehn, Tony Todd and more!

As soon as the screening schedule is finalized, we will let you know!

About Crypticon Seattle

Crypticon Seattle is the largest convention of its type in the Pacific Northwest, and 2016 is our 9th year. We anticipate 5000+ attendees for this year’s 3 day event. Our fans will travel from the region extending from Vancouver, BC Canada to Eugene, OR and including Portland, OR, and of course the greater Seattle, WA area. Fans come to meet their favorite celebrities, watch the latest films – many making their premiere at Crypticon -, purchase gifts and collectibles, meet their favorite authors, dress up as their favorite characters, learn the latest make up techniques, meet other fans, and enjoy macabre-themed party events. Crypticon is the gathering for the true fan of creepy stuff in all its forms. It’s the place to be for every fan, and brands familiar to our fans.

Find out more on their website at

Official Selection - The Northwest Horrorshow 2016

Friends in Vancouver! The Smiling Man comes to your town as part of The Northwest Horror Show! It's 3 days of cult, hororr & exploitation cinema at the amazing Vancity Theatre! They are pairing classic horror films with amazing genre shorts, and we are so honored to be part of the programming! We will be screening in front of the classic 1980 film Maniac, in all its 35mm glory! I cannot tell you how great it is to screen our film on the same bill with the great Tom Savini's FX work! 

It all goes down April 22-24, with our screening happening on Friday at 9:15pm! Tickets are available now, just click the button below!

...and check out that poster below, isn't that AMAZING?

About the Northwest Horror Show

Northwest Nightmares Entertainment is a company dedicated to bringing the best in reperatory genre cinema to the greater Vancouver area.

Our festival, The Northwest Horror Show, is a way for cult and horror fans to experience their favorite genre films on the big screen with special guests, giveaways, trailers and short films before each feature.
All films will be screened on 35mm prints and Uncut whenever possible. 

Find out more on their website at

Official Selection - Little Terrors Vol. 44

Hello Toronto! The Smiling Man team is proud to announce that we will be part of Little Terrors Vol. 44 - Do Not ReAnimate, the monthly genre short film series presented by Rue Morgue Magazine and Unstable Ground! We will be screening with a fantastic lineup of genre shorts from around the world, including our fellow SXSW 2016 Midnight Shorts alumni Night Stalker and Manoman!

We will be screening April 20th, 9pm at the MLT Carlton Cinema in Toronto and there will be a Q&A with attending filmmakers after the screening!

Check the poster out, it's pretty awesome!

About the Little Terrors Festival

Little Terrors was founded in July 2011, by Unstable Ground's Justin McConnell, in association with Rue Morgue Magazine. For a year at the fantastic indie theatre The Projection Booth, the program has played over 100 acclaimed short films from all over the world, including multiple premieres. The program's current home is Rainbow Cinemas Carlton, in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Our goal each month is to bring the audience a mind-opening, twisted, and ultimately entertaining experience, by exposing viewers to films rarely seen anywhere else. A diverse program of past festival hits, favorites and new discoveries guarantee two hours of short film insanity, on a regular basis. Come on out and discover for yourself! A warning though: we are not responsible for your mental state upon leaving the theatre.

Find out more on their website at

The Smiling Man Wins Best Short Film at the 2016 Fantastic Cinema & Craft Beer Festival

We are super grateful to announce that The Smiling Man has taken home the coveted Growler award for Best Short Film at the 2016 Fantastic Cinema & Craft Beer Festival amid strong competition! Other festival winners include a sweep of the feature competition by Sundance darling The Eyes of My Mother and an Emerging Filmmakers award goes to Luchagore Productions.

Congratulations to all the winners and films in competition! You can check out the complete list of award winners on the website here:

About the Fantastic Cinema & Craft Beer Festival

Founded in 2015, Fantastic Cinema brings you the best of genre cinema; featuring Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Crime, and hybrid movies from Arkansas, the United States, and around the globe.

Also in 2016, along with the fantastic movies, we are excited to add an exciting new component to the festival… the best craft beer in the state of Arkansas.

Fantastic Cinema & Craft Beer Festival will combine two passionate fan bases that are a natural fit and will become a festival destination for Arkansans and the surrounding region!

Join us April 7-10, 2016 at Riverdale 10 VIP Cinema for a celebration of genre films and craft beer!

Find out more on their website at

Phoenix Film Festival Showtimes and Tickets!


Friends in Phoenix, Arizona! The Smiling Man screens at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, part of the Phoenix Film Festival starting this weekend! We will be screening in the Horror Shorts A block with a great curated selection of films.

Check the following for screening dates and times. Click each link for a detailed description and to purchase tickets!

About the Phoenix Film Festival

The Phoenix Film Festival has been named one of The 25 Coolest Film Festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and is a program of the 501c(3) non-profit Phoenix Film Foundation. The event was started in 2000 by independent filmmakers as an opportunity to showcase independent filmmaking and it has quickly become Arizona’s Largest Film Festival.

The Phoenix Film Festival annually screens over 150 films, holds amazing parties and provides filmmaking seminars to capacity audiences. Over 25,000 attendees enjoy the 8 day festival. The Festival takes place all in one convenient location and is held on 7 screens at the Harkins Scottsdale/101. All parties and workshops are held right on site so you don’t miss a thing.

Find out more on their website at

Official Selection - Sciuridae Film Festival

We are excited to announce our return to Boise in a special screening at the first annual Sciuridae Film Festival. The festival happens April 16th, 2016. Writer/Director AJ Briones will be skyping in live at 1:30pm for a special Q&A session with attendees. It should be a fun time!

About the Sciuridae Film Festival

The Sciuridae Film Festival is for amateur and student filmmakers to showcase their most recent works. We are currently accepting short films 15 minutes or less of any genre. See Rules for more information. The focus of the festival is to build relationships among filmmakers and the local community.

Find out more on their website at

Pre-Production Breakdown - The Smiling Man

Previs (top) to final (bottom) comparison shot.

The Smiling Man is, on its face, a short and simple film. However, when your six year old lead actor (Abbi Chally) can only be on set for 6 hours a day and your other lead actor (Strange Dave) requires 8 hours of make-up, nothing is simple (fun fact: the first day of our shoot was on Abbi's sixth birthday).

On my first film, Carolina Parakeet, I storyboarded several key sequences before going into Previs. You can see the complete storyboard breakdown article here, the previs breakdown article here and the full Carolina Parakeet previs compare reel here.

Unfortunately for The Smiling Man, we didn't have the luxury of time. I had very specific ideas for the look, tone, composition and camera movement in this film: I wanted every frame to be perfectly composed. No shaky cam. No run-and-gun. It's a look that requires a lot of planning.

While our prep time was a bit accelerated, we busted our asses and did our homework and were pretty happy with the film that we got out of that effort.

Location, Location, Location

For The Smiling Man, I wanted a suburban home that felt and looked very normal. I'd seen a lot of shorts and features where people's homes were creepy looking. I wanted the opposite. This is the girl's home; it should feel welcoming. I wanted to evoke the feeling of being terrified in a place that you are supposed to feel safe in.

Once we nailed down our location, we took exhaustive measurements and quickly built a crude but fairly accurate version of the house in 3D using Autodesk Maya. One benefit in our Producer Tefft Smith II having a background in VFX is he was able to do this by himself pretty quickly. While Tefft was working on the house model, I created super rough character rigs that would stand in for Abbi and The Smiling Man.

Photo Visualization

I didn't have much time to storyboard anything for the film. Instead, we spent an evening walking through the location and I shot photo boards while working out all the action with Producer Tefft as Abbi's stand-in. Prior to the walkthrough, We purchased some balloons and made sure to have Abbi's measurements so we could get better approximations when Tefft stood in for her.

Producer Tefft Smith II (top) stands in for actor Abbi Chally (bottom) during our walkthrough.

For these photo boards, I framed and lensed loosely, as the Canon 5D MkII I shot with had a different film back from the Red Epic we were going to use and I was mainly concerned with blocking the action. The goal of this exercise was to nail the shot and setup count so we could work quickly and with confidence on the day. I also wanted to provide my DP David Holochek with a rough representation of each shot, one that we could finesse together on set. These photos gave us a good starting point for a very fun and creative collaboration.

Producer Tefft Smith II (top) stands in for actor Abbi Chally (bottom) during our walkthrough.


Now that we had the house and characters in 3D, I built a camera rig in Maya with the Red Epic film back and began to lens the action. There was very little time for proper animation, so I roughed in poses and basically used the previs as 3D storyboards.

Previs (top) vs final (bottom) comparison.

The main goal I wanted to achieve with the previs was to make sure that we had the lines of action correct for the interaction of Abbi and The Smiling Man, because we were shooting their scenes out of sequence. With Abbi wrapping a full 2 hours before Strange Dave's make-up and appliance work was camera-ready, we didn't have much room for error and it was absolutely crucial that we hit our marks. If we got the eyelines or line of action wrong, the shots between Dave and Abbi wouldn't cut together and we could have a disaster on our hands.

At the end of the process, I had a detailed shotlist and every shot was represented with either photo-vis or previs that every department and crewmember had access to. We were able to use that as a rough guide during the shoot.

One of our more complex setups: previs (top) vs final (bottom).

In the end, we were pretty happy with how everything turned out. Abbi had so much fun that she wanted to be made up as The Smiling Man, which our make-up fx lead Melanie Leandro was more than happy to do in pink. Let's end this with a bonus shot of Abbi and Strange Dave giving their best scary faces!

Official Selection - Nashville Film Festival 2016

We're just over the moon with this announcement: The Smiling Man is an official selection to the 2016 Nashville Film Festival! This is huge for us! The Nashville Film Festival is, well, HUGE! It's been around since 1969 as one of the oldest film festivals in the U.S.

The festival kicks off April 14-23 in Nashville Tennessee. As soon as we know screening dates and times, we will let you know!

About the Nashville Film Festival

Founded in 1969 as the Sinking Creek Film Celebration, Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) is one of the longest-running film festivals in the country and one of the most acclaimed festivals in the South. Hosted in Music City, USA, NaFF attracts enthusiastic film lovers from all across the country and has been praised by film-goers and filmmakers alike for its unique combination of big city festival atmosphere and laid back Southern hospitality. With over 290 films from 48 countries, a screenplay competition, web-series competition, innovative industry panels, live music showcases, and parties almost every night, the 2015 NaFF drew over 43,000 attendees and sold out nearly 50 films and events.

Find out more on their website at

The Smiling Man Wins Best Make-Up Award at the Los Angeles Short Film Festival 2016

Bam! We are so very grateful for winning the Best Make-up Award at the 2016 Los Angeles Short Film Festival! Huge congratulations goes to our Lead Makeup FX Artist Melanie Leandro and her team (Brittany Fontaine and Rowan Walters) for their amazing work and for our amazing actor Strange Dave for providing the canvas and breathing life to a character that's making a lot of people's skin crawl!

Check out some images of Melanie and her team at work as well as some assorted BTS photos below!

The Smiling Man Nominated for Best Micro Short Horror Film at Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival 2016

The Smiling Man racks another nomination as we are in competition for Best Micro Short Horror Film at the 2016 Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival!

The festivities kick off April 19-24 in Muskogee, Oklahoma!

About the Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival

Bare Bones was created to champion the small budget filmmaker who wears many hats to bring their project to completion By Any Means Necessary. BAMN! 'No Frills-No Waste' is our common battle cry.

If you are a fiercely independent filmmaker producing small budget films or a screenwriter that can craft a script that can be shot on a small (less than a million dollar) budget, this festival is for you.

Find out more on their website at

The Smiling Man Nominated for Two Awards at Fright Night Theatre Film Festival

The great news keeps rolling in as we are thrilled to announce that we are nominated for two awards at the 2016 Fright Night Theatre Film Festival: Best Horror Short Film and Most Shocking Short Film. We are in competition against some fantastic shorts, so we're just happy to be in the running and screening our film with another audience.

If you're in the Ontario area, don't miss out on this festival! They have an amazing lineup of genre features and shorts, and it's going to be a great time!

Tickets are available now! Click the link button below!

About the Fright Night Theatre Film Festival

The Fright Night Theatre Film Festival (FNTFF) is the only festival dedicated to horror, cult, and genre cinema in the greater Hamilton, ON area. Operating twice a year, this fan-favorite event screens a combined 20 feature films and shorts each bi-annual season over the course of two exciting nights of genre film mayhem at the Staircase Theatre (27 Dundurn St. N). Fright Night Theatre is not just a scary night at the movies; it’s a celebration of fringe film-making, controversial cinema, tongue-in-cheek B-movies, and the art of the macabre.

Find out more on their website at

Review: "The Smiling Man is a Piece of Amazing Horror Art"

Big thanks to the folks at We Are Indie Horror for a fantastically favorable review of The Smiling Man. We are humbled by their response to our film, it's all one could ask for as a filmmaker. I mean, damn, check out these quotes

"...some of the scariest and most intense moments in a short film."

"...each and every shot can be made a painting"

"The Smiling Man is a piece of amazing horror art that will end as a timeless classic and will outshine any modern horror feature length film. "

Check out their full review here:

Huge thanks to the entire crew who brought their A games to make this film possible, from Abbi and Strange Dave in front of the camera, David Holechek and his team behind the lens and Melanie Leandro and her team behind the makeup to Vivien Villani for his haunting score and Jamey Scott for his fantastic mix and sound design. Of course, we're nothing without the rest of the Defiant Images guys and gals.

Super stoked for SXSW coming in a couple of weeks' time!

The Smiling Man Nominated for Best Horror Short Film at North Hollywood Cinefest 2016

Aww snap! It's an honor for us to announce that we are in competition for Best Horror Short Film at the North Hollywood Cinefest this year! We will be screening in Shorts Session 7 on Monday, March 21 at 9:30pm at the iconic Laemmle Noho 7 theaters in North Hollywood.

Check out the other nominees here:!2016-award-nominees/c1933

About the North Hollywood Cinefest

Located in the heart of the NoHo Arts District in Los Angeles, the North Hollywood CineFest has established itself as a premiere event for independent cinema from all over the world.

By combining a vibrant local social scene with a state-of-the-art cinema, every filmmaker and film lover is sure to be impressed and delighted with the location. The combination of great film screenings, press and red carpet events, parties, seminars, all offered in this seven-day event, is what makes this a dynamic and must-go film festival.

Find out more on their website at

The Smiling Man Nominated for Two Awards at Asians On Film Festival 2016

Awww yeah! We are excited to announce that The Smiling Man is in competition for two awards at the 2016 Asians on Film Festival: Best Horror/Thriller and Best Original Score. We will be screening on Thursday, March 10 at 7pm at the Japanese American National Museum in West Hollywood. Tickets are available now! Click the button below to purchase tickets!

Click here to take a look at the complete list of nominees:

About the Asians on Film Festival

Asians on Film started as something small in 2010 as a way to promote Asian American minorities in Hollywood and break down stereotypes and create more representation in film and TV.

Asians on Film is a 501 (C)3 non-profit devoted to arts & entertainment with a primary focus in providing recognition to the talent of Asian/Pacific Islanders who are minorities in the film industry either as talent, filmmakers and/or those who work in other aspects of filmmaking.

Find out more on their website at