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Bruce Smolanoff
2015, 14m, comedy, drama

MUCK is a dramatic short film about Mel, a 20-year old female open mic comedian who lives with her tabloid-obsessed mother in Queens. Abandoned by her father and born into a family of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, Mel is a bottled fight waiting to erupt. Her one outlet is through stand up comedy, which she sees as her only viable escape from her bleak existence. She misguidedly seeks validation and acceptance from a misogynistic male comedian and is determined to make her mark as she navigates the late night, off the grid open mic scene.

Produced by: Caitlin Mae Burke, Emilie McDonald
Cast: Tallie Medel, Pat Dixon, Suzanne Grodner
The 3-week run for Muck ended on Feb 19th, 2017. Thank you to all the fans that supported it!
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“This film was raw and real and stirred up a lot of emotion!”
- rita gustafson

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The Ten-Day Interview

5 questions with Muck director, Bruce Smolanoff at the half-way mark.
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
  1. 1 Hey Bruce! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired MUCK?
    I've spent a lot of time hanging out with performers, comics and actors. Often I find their personal lives more interesting than their stage lives. I love them. I wanted to make a film about a common person who persues an uncommon dream.
  2. 2 You co-wrote this script with Emilie McDonald. What was it like working together and how do you two know each other?
    We've been together 18 years and married for 10. As long as I don't use her towel and chew with my mouth open, we're good. Need i say more. This is getting personal.
  3. 3 Tallie Medel and Suzanne Grodner both give such wonderful performances. What was it like working with them and how did you work together to get those performances?
    Tallie and I met on the street in front of Anthology Film Archives at a Nathan Silver screening of a film I acted in. She walked right up to me boldly and asked some personal questions about the film. She's got a lot of chutzpah. She had no idea that I was mid-casting MUCK. Suzanne Grodner came in through an open casting call. She was raw, vulnerable, and emotionally available--- I knew immediately that I wanted to cast her. They were both extremely open and easy to work with. I tried to spend as much time as possible getting to know them and getting comfortable. We rehearsed gently and slowly.
  4. 4 This short feels like it could be expanded into a feature. Do you have any plans to do that? Why or why not?
    Yes, we have a feature script that I believe goes much deeper and touches on some very important themes.
    We have some amazing people on board and are in the process of moving forward.
  5. 5 What's next?
    Growing, learning, dancing , tea and connoli's :)
  6. About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
    Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
    Ben Hicks

The film with the most fans wins $1,000

For 2017 we are moving on from screening feature films and will be showcasing shorts. For our Winter 2017 Festival, we are giving away $2,000 in prizes to the top three films.

Fan Award


The film with the most fans.

Audience Award


The film with the most views.

Jury Award


Our favorite film.

Festival Partners

Hammer to Nail Film Pulse Film Fervor