*Online Premiere* We all know better than to click on a pop-up ad promising us thousands of dollars. We all know better than to go into debt. We all know better than to take a job that promises easy cash. But we all make mistakes, and Melissa Howell (Katherine Cullen) has somehow found herself at the intersection of broke and desperate. While ignoring calls from a debt-collection agency, she takes a job at as a quasi-telemarketer, selling vacation packages to people who call in thinking they’ve won a cash prize. At job orientation, she meets her gratingly enthusiastic boss Frances (“you can call me Fran”), played by Erika Batdorf, and a happily spacey co-worker, played by Lesley Loksi Chan.
The tight 6 minutes of film reveals little to nothing about Melissa’s life outside the office, instead focusing on how she’s stuck between the forced-friendliness of the calls she makes and the deeply impersonal calls she receives. The collection agency uses two different recordings to complete messages to her. In fact, in a bit of a meta-twist by writer/director Erica Genereux Smith (who also wrote and directed 2014 NoBudge selection “Night Life”), almost every word spoken in this film is either part of a memorized speech or read off a script. There is no dialogue, per se. It’s only recitation, and it’s in the sparse and clever editing that we find the story.