A lonely middle-aged man is eating dinner when several figures from his past resurface.


‘Smiley Face’ is a psychological drama, an exploration of the childhood guilt that afflicts its protagonist, Zac. Hounded by the memories of his mother’s infidelity, his poor performance at insecure aggression at school, he experiences an unsettling, involuntary reversion to his youth. Battling with his guilt-ridden psyche, we observe as Zac interacts with the several characters that resurface from his past. 

The story

We open with ZAC (mid-30s), sat at the dinner table. His mother walks in on her phone wearing a low cut, tight fitting black dress, giggling and texting on her phone. Authoritatively and patronizingly, she commands him to finish his dinner, a childish array of potato smiley-faces and fish fingers, transporting him back to childhood.

Bewildered, Zac complies, but his confusion increases as his mother raises his school performance, prompting the resurfacing of a new voice from his past, his school teacher. We learn that Zac has been distracted, has been underperforming, daydreaming and watching the leaves rather than focusing in class. Haunting sobs emerge from a distant door frame, Zac’s mum continues to giggle and text, oblivious to his increasing discomfort. The voice of an unknown man projects from her phone: ‘baby I can’t wait to…’ - her other lover. Zac’s father appears, revealing and demanding the truth regarding his mother’s infidelity, threatening to leave. 

This traumatic recollection is cast against an insinuation of Zac’s own violent actions - thumping noises emanate from an ajar door, the sobs of a young boy can be heard, pleading for Zac to stop. 

Zac’s evident discomfort increases, his guilt mounts to harrowing mania, and the haunting voices of his past blur into a dizzying and ominous cacophony. We sit back and gaze with horror as his psyche dissolves, taunted by the mocking smiley-faces on his unfinished plate.

The trailer for the short film.

Other details

Between May 2021 and June 2022, the UCL Film & TV Society created Smiley Face. For this short, Saul was the writer, cinematographer, co-producer, sound editor, and mixer. He also helped with foley and VFX. The film is currently on the festival circuit. The society hopes to release it by August 2023. The trailer can be found here. Further details can be found  here.

The Smiley Face instagram

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