Imagine your most embarrassing sexual encounter, preferably one that started out on Craigslist or Tinder. Now picture how that cringe-inducing memory might look translated into an irreverent pop-up book. Yes, the same kind you grew up reading as a kid, complete with pull tabs and elaborate 3-D fold-outs but now with cheeky, adults-only fold-outs.

That’s the idea behind Stephen Dunn’s Sundance-bound “Pop-Up Porno,” an infinitely expandable, viral-ready series of short films designed to scrub the shame from the nerve-wracking world of online dating. “I’ve been kind of perplexed lately by Grindr and this whole online dating world,” explains Dunn, who believes art comes from a place of vulnerability. “That’s where I get a lot of motivation for my work, as a way to overcome my own fears or insecurities.

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Last summer, as a break between projects, Dunn set about trying to collect the wildest online-dating confessions he could find, working with graphic designers to translate three of them into pop-up-book form.

Over the course of two days, Dunn filmed disembodied hands paging through each book, turning the pages and animating the features, while the subjects narrated their own accounts. The sets, inspired by the stories themselves, were borrowed from a Toronto-based TV shoot. In the “m4m” episode, a giant Johnson springs up to greet the viewer as the narrator remembers trading dirty selfies with an uncomfortably familiar stranger. In “f4m,” a prosthetic boob bounces across the screen.

I was originally going to include one of my own stories, but I just found three that were so much better,” explains Dunn, who is saving his own episode for a second wave of shorts. “My intention was to bare all and tell these embarrassing, hopeful and sometimes ultimately hopeless stories that I’ve encountered in my own experiences of online dating.

So, when it came to the shorts, “I submitted to Sundance just for fun, not thinking anything would come of it,” Dunn says. He’d only found time to edit two of the three-minute standalones by the festival’s cutoff, “but they got back to me saying, ‘We want to see the third,’” so he scrambled to deliver. All three “Pop-Up Porno” shorts will world premiere at Sundance, where the original books will also be featured as the objets d’art they are.

Dunn has already sent the shorts around to a few outlets, just to gauge the interest in continuing the project. Though he hasn’t committed to a specific deal, he hints, “Someone has approached us about turning ‘Pop-Up Porno’ into an online series, and also a platform for people to submit their own stories. This project is meant to be interactive and regenerate itself. People can literally share their own stories, and they might get turned into a pop-up book film.

To submit a story, click here.

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