Introducing ScreenCraft's 2020 Horror Jury

by Ken Miyamoto on April 1, 2020

For ScreenCraft's 2020 Horror Screenplay Contest, the industry judges are looking for great writing — no matter what type of horror tale you want to tell, wether it's TV, feature or short film. Read on, if you dare.

Horror movies. Audiences flock to them each year. The horror genre is one of the most reliable sources of profit in the eyes of Hollywood and the worldwide film industry as a whole.

John Carpenter made the original Halloween for just $325,000. It went on to gross $42 million, which back in 1978 was the equivalent of $153 million in today’s money.

The SawParanormal ActivitySinister, and Insidious franchises have been consistent money makers.  The slasher icons of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger put companies on the map and continue to resonate as staple Halloween traditions.

And it doesn't stop at the cinema either. The horror genre has created some of television's most terrifying tales — whether it's The Walking Dead or American Horror Story.

Because of this, horror is an excellent genre for emerging talent.

The genre has launched countless careers, and it is consistently popular worldwide.

But why?

Humans can be strange. As a species, we're curious to a fault at times. We seek thrills by putting our lives in danger as we skydive, climb towering mountains, and bungee-jump off of a bridge with only a single cord to save us.

And then there are horror movies and TV series.

Horror confronts us with our deepest fears and anxieties, which creates a cathartic experience.

The great thing about this genre is that it comes in many different shapes and sizes. Horror stories can be contained, broad, supernatural, psychological, comedic, socially relevant, or exist to homage celebrated horror classics that came before it.

The horror genre is perfect for the type of hybrids that Hollywood — and audiences — love. Sci-Fi Horror (The Thing), Comedy Horror (Ghostbusters), and even Period Horror (The Witch) are just a few of the genre crossbreeds that went on to become instant classics.

ScreenCraft is lucky to introduce an impressive jury of judges for our ScreenCraft 2020 Horror Jury, each with their own backgrounds and prolific careers within the genre (and beyond) while working with some of the horror genre's greatest talents.

And remember, submissions for the ScreenCraft 2020 Horror Screenplay Contest are being accepted through our early deadline of April 30th, 2020, regular deadline of May 31st, 2020, and the final deadline of June 30th, 2020.

Submissions for both horror features, shorts and horror television pilots will be accepted. 

CLICK HERE for more details on all of these amazing opportunities!

Ryan Turek — VP of Development at Blumhouse Productions

Ryan began his career within the film industry as a journalist focusing solely on the world of horror films and entertainment. He consulted on various horror film productions and even helmed a feature-length documentary on the Scream franchise, which is currently featured on the Scream Blu-ray box set.

Ryan later transitioned into feature and television development with Blumhouse Productions, one of the leading production companies in the horror genre.

Blumhouse Productions was founded by Jason Blum and is celebrating its 20th year within the industry. Known for its Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, and rebooted Halloween horror franchises, the company expanded into the drama genre with critical and commercials hits Whiplash and BlacKkKlansman — both of which earned nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The company also has excelled within the television medium producing the Emmy Award-winning television movie The Normal Heart and the Golden Globe-winning miniseries Sharp Objects. They even recently brought their The Purge franchise to the small screen.

In 2014, the company signed a 10-year first-look deal with Universal Pictures and Universal Television.

If you're looking to get into the horror business, Blumhouse Productions is the pinnacle production company with a list of contemporary horror films matched by no other company in the industry today — Paranormal Activity franchise, The Purge franchise, Insidious franchise, Dark Skies, Jessabelle, Ouija, Unfriended, The Gift, The Visit, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Split, Get Out, Happy Death Day, Truth or Dare, Halloween, Glass, Happy Death Day 2U, Ma, Black Christmas, The Invisible Man, and the upcoming Fantasy Island  — to name a few.

Brittany Klesic — Creative Executive at Monkeypaw Productions

Brittany is a Development Executive at Monkeypaw Productions, which is the production company created by Oscar-winning Jordan Peele, the writer/director of the Oscar-winning Get Out, and the critically-acclaimed commercial horror hit Us. She also runs point on Peele's The Twilight Zone for CBS All-Access, as well as the upcoming horror reboot Candyman.

She previously worked at Blumhouse Productions and as a script reader at various companies.

Monkeypaw Productions has quickly become one of the most prolific horror genre productions companies in the last few years. Founded by writer, director, and producer Jordan Peele in 2012, the company hit the stratosphere after producing the 2017 Oscar-winning horror film Get Out (Peele won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) and Peele's terrifying 2019 followup Us.

The production company originally had roots in comedy, producing the celebrated comedy series Key & Peele on Comedy Central in 2012.

After the series ended in 2015, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key wrote the 2016 comedy Keanu.

Peele's personal love for the horror genre turned him away from comedy as he focused on his directorial debut with Get Out. The film was not just a conventional horror flick. It carried a message about race with satirical social undertones.

Like Blumhouse Productions, Peele and his production company invest in, produce, and distribute genre films for Universal.  They also produce micro-budget films with Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions banner. The two entities collaborated on Peele's Get Out and co-produced Spike Lee's Oscar-winning drama film BlacKkKlansman.

But they don't stop at features.

Monkeypaw Productionhas become a heavy-hitter on streaming channels with Peele's successful CBS-All Access reboot of The Twilight Zone, along with the critically-heralded Amazon Prime series Hunters.

Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions and J. J. Abrams's Bad Robot Productions have also partnered up to produce horror-drama anthology series Lovecraft Country for HBO and Warner Bros. Television. Peele and Abrams will serve together as executive producers.

Much like Blumhouse, Monkeypaw Productions is a driving force in the horror genre today.

Crystal Holt — Director of Scripted Programming at AMC Networks

Crystal earned an MFA in Film from Columbia College Chicago. She began her career in features, first interning for Mandate Pictures and later segueing into TV movies and series at MarVista Entertainment, where she worked with BET, Lifetime, Hallmark, Disney, Disney XD, and Nickelodeon. In 2018, she joined AMC Networks in development as the Director of Scripted Programming.

AMC is a pioneer of horror programming today, but its roots — after debuting in 1984 —  were in classic movies. The channel was originally a premium channel, focused on cinematic classics (made on or before the 1950s) that would air in the afternoon and early evening hours, mostly unedited, uncut, and commercial-free.

By 2003, the network rebranded by changing its format from a classic movie channel to a more general focus on movies from all eras. But everything changed in 2007.

In that year, AMC debuted its first original drama TV series, Mad Men, which was a period piece about Madison Avenue advertising executives in the 1960s. The show was an immediate critically-acclaimed hit and went on to win 16 Primetime Emmy Awards during its run.

In 2008, Breaking Bad, a drama series about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher involved in making and dealing methamphetamine, also garnered critical acclaim, winning 16 Primetime Emmy Awards.

As the network produced plenty of excellent drama content, in 2010, they would take on a horror series that is still running to this day — The Walking Dead.

Based on a popular graphic horror novel, the series became the top cable draw in its first few years. By 2014, during its fifth season premiere, 17.3 million were watching the show, making it the most-watched series episode in cable history. The series was spun off into another show, Fear the Walking Dead. Both shows are still running today.

Could your horror series pilot be the next AMC hit?

Sarah Christine — Development Executive at Goalpost Pictures

Sarah graduated from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. She worked her way up from production assistant positions for Mint Pictures and then Goalpost Pictures until she became a paralegal and lawyer for Media Arts Lawyers, an Australian Music and Entertainment law firm that offers practical and commercial legal advice to clients throughout the entertainment, media, and creative industries.

Sarah eventually returned to Goalpost Pictures as a Development Executive.

Goalpost Pictures is based out of Australia, producing content for both film and television.

The Eternity Man — a film opera depicting the true story of World War I veteran Arthur Stace, who roamed the backstreets of Sydney chalking the single word "Eternity" across the pavements — debuted in 2009. It was released on ABC TV and Channel 4 UK, going on to receive the Rose d'Or award for Outstanding Performing Arts Program.

After producing many critically-acclaimed and award-winning films, the banner partnered with Blumhouse Productions and delved into the horror genre for the first time in 2018's Upgrade.

Set in the near-future where technology controls nearly all aspects of life, the story follows Grey Trace after his wife is killed during a brutal mugging that also leaves him paralyzed. He is approached by a billionaire inventor with an experimental cure that will “upgrade” his body. The cure — an Artificial Intelligence implant called STEM — gives Grey physical abilities beyond anything ever experienced and the ability to relentlessly claim vengeance against those who murdered his wife and left him for dead.

The film won the Midnighters Audience Award at SXSW 2018.

But it was with 2020's The Invisible Man where Goalpost Pictures stepped into the limelight of the horror genre.

Once again partnering with Blumhouse Productions, the Australian production company produced an updated take on the classic Universal character.

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister, their childhood friend, and his teenage daughter.

But when Cecilia’s abusive ex commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

Goalpost Pictures has positioned itself as a true horror player within the domestic and global markets.

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.  He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies

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