After losing his job and his girlfriend on the worst morning of his life, a middle aged expat living in Prague turns to his carefree neighbor for support – only to find her faced with her own predicament: a bloody crime scene that points straight at her.

Robert is having a bad day. So how can that day get even more complicated? Directed, written and produced by Sonya Dagata & Carlos Robles-Gil, ‘And Then God Laughed’ takes us through a middle-aged expat’s woes and depletions just as he stumbles upon a new exciting and dangerous predicament. But he has some doubts and suspicions. The short is funny, exciting and surprising, which makes its 30-minute timeline hold up unnoticeably. We spoke to the directors who shared some secrets about their ideas and processes:

Can you tell me a little bit about ‘And Then God Laughed’, how did this film come about?

It started with Claire, a young woman in the middle of the night, dealing with the situation she’s in, when someone unexpectedly comes knocking on her door. We then thought it would be funny to have that person be Robert, this oblivious guy who’d already had a horrendous day. The kind of day that makes you question your entire approach to life.

Through Robert, we ended up exploring the awkwardness of adulthood. How we don’t all “grow out” of the weird quirks and flaws that hold us back, but rather we settle into them. Awkward kids turn into awkward adults and life goes on– until it doesn’t. So what happens when life eventually makes it clear that who we are just doesn’t “work”? What unexpected challenges do we bring onto ourselves when we give up on who we are? And what perilous turns will we take in choosing to ignore our intuition, our instincts?

As Robert became our protagonist, we had to rethink Claire from his perspective. The perspective of this down in the dumps underdog antihero. The kind of guy who, in times of crisis, would turn to the quirky girl for solace. So Claire became this wolf in sheep’s clothing, or a wolf in Manic Pixie Dream Girl clothing. Robert choses to enter her life uninvited, thinking she’ll show him the light – at his own peril.

On a side note, this film indirectly landed us in the ER three times, and with each visit we returned to the script making life more difficult for poor Robert. But this also brought us closer to him.

As writers/directors are you open to changes or suggestions when you start shooting or do you like to stick to what has been written?

The film takes on a life of its own off the page, it’s important to let it breathe– within reason. In general we prefer to workshop scenes as much as possible beforehand, listening to suggestions and making changes there, rather than on set. That being said, we definitely allowed ourselves a few brief “deviations” while shooting. At the end of the day, if an artist we trust enough to work with feels strongly enough about a particular moment, it’s worth hearing them out. The goal is to stay true to the vision and avoid bad surprises in the editing room, not stifle creativity.

What has this film taught you about filmmaking?

1. An army marches on its stomach and-
2. Properly budget for post-production.

Which films can you say directly inspired this ‘And Then God Laughed’?

Wild Tales” (2014), “Barton Fink” (1991) and “The Hunt” (2013).

What are your favorite short films?

Mi Amigo Invisible” (2010) by Pablo Lacruen, “Six Shooter” (2004) by Martin McDonagh, and “Squirrel” (2015) by Alex Kavutskiy.

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