Private Project

Smile Or Hug

After being dumped on her 30th birthday, Trish Santos works through her loneliness with help from her online art students, her two best friends, and a box of homemade self-help tapes given to her by the mysterious “mind painter” Doc Garcia. “Smile or Hug” is a dramatic-comedy with fantastical elements and a deep empathy for its flawed-yet-lovable characters.

  • Paul Sprangers
    Lonely Batman, Stranger Danger
  • Chelsea Javier
    Lonely Batman, Halloween Club
  • Paul Sprangers
    Night City Zappers, Lonely Batman, Stranger Danger, Gang of Witches
  • Selena Leoni
    The Bond, Young Kings, Hard, All My Life
  • Carlo Cosio
    Omolara, 30,000
  • Chelsea Javier
    Stranger Danger, Fruit Fly
  • Paul Sprangers
    Lonely Batman, Stranger Danger
  • Chelsea Javier
    Key Cast
    Sensitive, Fragile Creatures; Fruit Fly
  • Danny Trejo
    Key Cast
    "Dr. Garcia"
    Machete, Heat, From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids
  • Andrea Navedo
    Key Cast
    "Irene (Mom)"
    Jane the Virgin, Mrs. America
  • Chris Aquilino
    Key Cast
    Silicon Valley, The Nowhere Inn, Now Apocalypse, Dead to Me
  • Ryan Alexander Holmes
    Key Cast
    Dear White People, The Morning Show,
  • Christian Henley
    Key Cast
    The Debt Collector
  • Robert Brettenaugh
    Key Cast
    Acts of Revenge, Strange Blood
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 17 minutes 44 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 6, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, ZCam 4k
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Stephen Break
    Sales Agent
    Country: United States
Director Biography - Paul Sprangers

Paul is originally from Red Wing, Minnesota, and spent many years being broke and tired in an indie-rock band before pursuing his love of filmmaking.

Paul has directed numerous award-winning short films, including “Stranger Danger” which won best editing, best live action, and the audience award for best picture at the 2019 UCLA Film Festival.

Paul is also an award-winning screenwriter: his spec-thriller “Night City Zappers” won the 2020 UCLA MFA Screenwriters Showcase and was a finalist in the Austin Film Festival.

Paul works professionally as a cinematographer and is a self-taught editor, sound mixer, and increasingly works with motion tracking and other VFX.

He lives in South Pasadena with his wife and collaborator, Chelsea Javier, their two bunnies Hammy and Yoshi, and their Sulcata Tortoise, Lou.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

We wrote a movie about creativity, and how we sometimes struggle to balance our need for self-expression with our friendships and intimate relationships. Hopefully the visuals reflect this tension; I always knew that I wanted to use bold, colorful images to reveal the fantastic power of Trish’s creativity - even in her isolated, “ordinary” life.

Directing Smile or Hug as my first feature was a dream come true, even in the midst of difficult circumstances, but what’s even better is that I got to share the experience with my co-writer, lead actress, and best friend - my wife, Chelsea Javier.