The biggest risk of love, in turn, is always grief—as is the case for Kate Jean Hollowell's comically poignant short "Say Hi After You Die".

It all started with best buds Gloria (Kate Jean Hollowell) and Ruby (Ruby Caster) dropping some harmless raunchy bits, exploring the existential notion of seeing animals as "signs" from loved ones post mortem.

"When I die, I'm going to come back to you as a stinky port-a-potty," Ruby jests (note: somewhat ad libbed, as my screener is expired). Then, the unthinkable happens: Ruby, carelessly twerking at her friend as she's walking away for one last bit, is hit by a speeding truck, not realizing she was twerking into oncoming traffic.

The twerking accident in question leaves Gloria alone, despondently grieving her best friend. That is, until a mysteriously timed port-a-potty appears offering mystical solace.

Winner of the U.S. Fiction Short Film Jury Award at Sundance this year, "Say Hi After You Die" is a truly a wonderful, hilarious little short that balances comedy and grief expertly for its short running time. We were lucky enough to get to see the short and have a quick chat with Hollowell about directing comedy, finding the right color scheme, and crafting a show-stopping, construction work fueled musical number.

Check our our quick, email-powered interview below. And, if you missed "Say Hi After You Die" at Sundance there's no need to grieve, as it will also be screening at SXSW March 9 and 12.

Our Interview With Kate Jean Hollowell

Kate Jean Hollowell grieving in "Say Hi After You Die"

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

How did you balance great, laugh-out-loud comedy in conjunction with genuine grief?

I didn’t set out to do it that way, I just naturally use humor as a coping mechanism and so that comes through in the short. Dealing with heavy topics through a comedic lens has always been healing for me personally.

Life isn’t just happy or sad or funny, it’s all of the things. So I wanted to capture that in the film.

NFS: I love the look of this short. Can you tell me a little bit about the technical process? (I.e. camera, coloring process, that sort of thing)

I’m always intentional about everything in a scene, the wardrobe, the framing, even the cup at the diner. I come from a visual background and so having a clear color story for the short was important to me. And bringing in a colorist who knew how to create this intentional realism, making certain colors pop, while still feeling grounded was always the goal.

That dance number! I love it. Was that choreographed by you, or did you work with a choreographer? Can you tell me about that process?

Actually, my friend Kat Burns choreographed it! She has won several Emmys and is an absolute genius.

We had only a few days to put this piece together, and Kat and I met up at my house and talked through what the beats would be through the dance number. I knew it was going to be amazing, but she really outdid herself with this one. Collaborating with her is a true dream.

We shot during the strike and got a SAG waiver, so we were able to get some top tier talent and it all fell into place perfectly.

Any specific challenges you faced in the making of "Say Hi After You Die?"

I come from more of a comedy background, and was worried I wouldn’t be able to carry the sad performance of my character, but it was a fun challenge and in the end I’m glad I did it.

Directing while also starring in something is also a challenge, but it’s something I really love. Getting to really make art that from start to finish is you as an artist and filmmaker is incredibly rewarding.

Any advice to future filmmakers or others using port-a-potties to process grief?

Make things that you want to see. Don’t worry about anything else. Don’t think about anyone else. Just make good work and keep your head down. Your loss and grief in life will benefit your art if you let it.

Catch "Say Hi After You Die" if your attending SXSW next month. More info here.