Winners 2021

Slide
Best Horror Feature Film
"The Unborn"

Written by Danny Matier
Directed by Tal Lazar
Produced by Dr. David M. Milch, Tal Lazar, Phil Newsom, Ohad Ashkenazi, and Assaf Mor

Best Thriller Feature Film
"Stalker"

Written by Tyler Savage & Dash Hawkins
Directed by Tyler Savage
Produced by JP Castel, Dash Hawkins, Daniel Pisano, Tyler Savage

Best SciFi Short Film
"Scars"

Written by Bryan Bagby
Directed by Jonny Zeller
Produced by Tim Frazier, Jackson Rathbone, Davey Johnson, Dallas Carroll, Robert L. Levy

Best Horror Short Film
"Milk Teeth"

Written by Nick Lopez
Directed by Felipe Vargas
Produced by Brendan Bennett, Jamie McNeill

Best Thriller Short Film
"Face Your Fears"

Written and Directed by Neil Stevens
Produced by Neil Stevens, Ryan Husk, Venezia Zavala

Best Super Short Horror Film
"Night Crawl"

Written and Directed by Greg Shultz
Produced by Brook Linder

Best Horror Feature Screenplay
"The Hitchhiker"

Written by Dan Ast

Best Sci-Fi Feature Screenplay
"Precipice"

Written by Avishai Weinberger

Best Thriller Feature Screenplay
"In the Scrape"

Written by Mark Steensland & James Newman

Best Short Screenplay
"Murphy's Gulch"

Written by Jeff Bassetti

Best Music Video
"Nice Shoes"

Written by Tommy Mack And Jonathan Lawrence
Directed by Jonathan Lawrence
Produced by Tommy Mack

Best 2021 Shriekfest Commercial
"Surprise"
Best Director
Venita Ozols-Graham

"Who Wants Dessert?"

Best Actress
Caroline Williams

"Ten Minutes to Midnight"

Best Actor
Michael Lee Joplin

"Stalker"

Best Pilot Screenplay
"What Darkness Brings"

Written by Ross Denyer

Best Editing
Delaney Bishop

"Terror Eyes"

Best Cinematography
Matt Plaxco & Chris Saul

"Wide Awake in Bridgewater"

Michael McCartney

Michael McCartney
Actor | Director | Screenwriter | Producer

Michael McCartney

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Michael McCartney and I work with Gill Holland and The Group Entertainment.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

I started as an actor actually and have worked for years writing and producing for myself. I fell into directing pretty naturally, but a bit later in life, so I still consider myself to really be developing. I hope to always keep evolving as a filmmaker and balancing what I continue to learn about performance, script, composition, design, light, camera, action.

DG: What are you currently working on?

I’ve just completed delivery of ROOMMATE WANTED to Indican Pictures for our worldwide release in January 2022. My next project will be directing my breakout cannibal horror/comedy SMOKEHOUSE that we’re planning to shoot in Kentucky early next year.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

My father Laton McCartney is my greatest mentor. He taught and encouraged me to write, critcally think, be creative, and question authority. I’m lucky to have been reared by such a tremendous dude.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

I find that we genre fans are typically odd balls and misfits, with great imaginations, and who are not afraid of delving into the dark – I know I am. I think we empathize with each other through our simalarities, as well as support our efforts to escape into lovely, bizarre and terrifying worlds.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

I love creativity and being a part of the creative process in any capacity. I love being on set and working hard to create something compelling and honest. I love artists and working with them. I love the history of filmmaking and the ever evolving form. I love people seeing my work and hopefully appreciateing something about it.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

But alot of the time it’s all business; raising money, selling, hustling, shmoozing, paying bills. It all part of it, just not my favorite part.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the film we’re showing here at Shriekfest, my directorial debut, ROOMMATE WANTED. I put blood into this film.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Stay a newbie! Keep learning, growing, evolving, and working your ass off to tell your story.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

I have so much respect for Shriekfest and how Denise runs this incredible film festival. I know it’s not easy, but Denise is a force of nature who gives her attention and support to every one of us that are lucky enough to be involved. Thank you!

Erik Bloomquist

Erik Bloomquist
Actor | Writer | Director | Producer

Erik Bloomquist

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Erik Bloomquist / @ErikCBloomquist
Mainframe Pictures / @MainframePictures

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Acting, writing, directing, producing!

DG: What are you currently working on?

In post on NIGHT AT THE EAGLE INN and CHRISTMAS ON THE CAROUSEL (coming out later this year) along with SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS (starring Cara Buono, Clare Foley, Spencer List, and William Sadler), premiering next year

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I learn from everybody I collaborate with in different ways.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

They awaken the imagination and remind us of our humanity.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

The unexpected.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

The unexpected.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Depends on the day, but I am proud to have stayed as creative as I was able to during the pandemic.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Find like-minded collaborators.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

If you dig our movies, please leave a review on IMDb, Letterboxd, and your viewing platform. We live and die by the algorithms!

Delaney Bishop

Delaney Bishop
Director | Writer | Editor

Delaney Bishop

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Delaney Bishop, BishopTakesQueen.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Hi! Directing and editing come much easier than writing, although I’ve spent at least 10,000 hours writing lol. What I really wish I could do is draw storyboards and score. ?

DG: What are you currently working on?

Currently raising money for a feature thriller called FARE GAME and writing a dark comedic pilot called SUBSTITUTE PREACHER.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Ron Osborn was an instructor and is an incredible writer. Also my father, who is a great filmmaker. They both watch everything and the conversations have been formative, to say the least.

DG: Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

Horror/scifi genres have layers on top of, and interwoven into the traditional narrative film. The craftsmanship on set, and in visual effects can be appreciated as art forms independently, and/or within the context of story and character.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

I love the ability to create myths which echo our reality, including abstract ideas. And I love the collective coordination of crews creating an emotional experience.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

Bad news, rejection, and stubbing one’s toe on set.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of meeting some wonderful people and maintaining those relationships.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Meditate.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

Follow me on….just kidding. But for real, I am grateful and privileged to have had so many opportunities in film and television. It’s refreshing to see the tools becoming more accessible and the creatives becoming more diverse all around the world. That said, this is still a very difficult industry in which to make a living, so embrace inclusivity every day.

Danny Matier

Danny Matier
ScreenWriter

Danny Matier

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

MiLa Media is the company that produced The Unborn
Website: https://www.mila-media.com/

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Screenwriting.

DG: What are you currently working on?

A drama set around the drag racing circuit.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I have had many mentors and still do. I’m indebted to many.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

Because they speak to the parts of us that believe in magic and the primal side that spots monsters in the dark. I can still freak myself out in a dark room and even though I know ghosts aren’t real, that doesn’t stop me from seeing them. Fear is very powerful and there’s nothing scarier than the unknown, the parts of the world beyond our control. (Although, I never want to see a film about this virus.)

DG: What do you love most about this business?

That every day is different and I’m always getting to meet and work with cool people. Getting to tell stories is magic, whether I’m writing them or being a part of them as crew.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

Sometimes the hours. I have two little kids and weeks will go by where I’m gone before they’re awake and they’re in bed well before I get home. But, that’s how it is for most of us in this industry.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

A script I wrote that I’ll be directing early next year. It’s been an absolute passion and it’s finally happening. I know I didn’t answer that question directly but getting that one up is the best feeling to date.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

I can only say what works for me.
Keep punching those words into your keyboard and enjoy it. You also have your own voice, use it. As Oscar Wilde said, “be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Never directly compare your work to anyone else. It never turns out well.
At times you will have to accept the vision you had for a story may be changed by others and it may not be what you wanted as a writer. Depending on how much you believe in a project, will depend on how much you fight for it and sometimes you have to be prepared to walk away.
Rejection is all part of the game. Dust yourself off and knock on the next door. There’s a lot of them and sooner or later you’ll find the right fit.
Read Greek mythology and fairy tales. Read the Theban Plays. Read books. Read screenplays. Read every screenplay you can get your hands on and compare the script to the final film. Did it work? If yes, how, if no, why? Immerse yourself in story, especially myth. The more you delve into myth, the more symbology you’ll notice in well-crafted work. Read and recite poetry and have books on your phone so when waiting somewhere you can read.
Connect with others in the industry and network. Build rapport with people. Social media is great for this (I’m not very good with it, but others get results).
Observe the world, especially nature, the way animals or a person moves can create worlds.
But above all else. Write. Doesn’t have to be full-blown features or plays. Write a one-act play. A short film. Just write.
This is the advice I was given and things that have worked for me. Take what you can use from it. One can never know too much.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you for having us at Shriekfest, we are very excited to be involved.

Clark D. Schaefer

Clark D. Schaefer
Writer | Producer | Director

Clark D. Schaefer

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Clark D. Schaefer, SitkaBlu Productions, LLC.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Writer first, Producer, Executive Producer, Director.

DG: What are you currently working on?

Promoting my SciFi Feature on Amazon Prime, called The Tangle. Also, in Pre-Production for my next film called Bestial. A script I wrote and will direct. Looking for funding and producing partners now.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I don’t have a single mentor, but I do have many influences. Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch are my inspirations. A couple friends of mine have been my mentors or at least people that believed in me or helped me along the way; Fernando Gavira, Rick Ramage and Chris Kelly.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

Great question. I think fantasy is one of the biggest reasons to turn to our media. So, sci-fi is for the promise of the future, horror is the escape and the excitement of being scared to death. Both genres cross over language and cultural barriers and makeups.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

Creating and completing. It’s finishing a script, then having the personal satisfaction and sometimes accolades that follow. Then, creating and seeing the script come to life; the script you molded and killed yourself to complete, now comes to life. Nothing is greater and more terrifying, as seeing your film for the first time on the big screen.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

The pride and satisfaction that I created something and then the pure enjoyment I get from great films and TV.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

My first script, my first short film, winning my first festival, producing my first feature, directing my first short. Soon to be replaced by completing the whole thing; writing, directing and producing my first feature film.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Do it! Start living it and creating with whatever assets and friends you have. Make something this weekend.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

I love how engaged you are with all of the many people that you have come in contact with over the years. I love the content, the festival, the engagement, the personal touch and knowing you and your own personal life.

Kai Thorup

Kai Thorup
Writer | Filmmaker

Kai Thorup

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

My name is Kai Thorup. I am a film maker and author of the horror screenplay, “Sunshine State: Duende.”
Please follow me on Instagram @sunshine_state_duende or you can find me on IMDB at imdb.me/kaithorup.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Film making pays the bills, but my passion is writing and I’ve been interested in scary stories as long as I can remember.

DG: What are you currently working on?

I was sad to finish “Sunshine State: Duende.” I was so excited by the voice and tone that emerged, I didn’t want it to end.
I believe the voice is what everyone is responding to. Immediately, I shelved my next project and began developing other “Sunshine State” stories. Darkly funny, truly horrific with twists and setting uniquely Florida. Fifteen stories sprang from this bout of inspiration. I am compiling the best into an anthology movie and four are big enough to carry a feature.
I am very excited to explore this world I’ve created.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I’ve never had a mentor in the traditional sense, but many have offered advice and encouragement. My work as a film maker allows access to many accomplished and creative people. I just wrapped on “Coming 2 America,” directed by Craig Brewer, a talented writer and director who came up through film festivals. He and the producers were aware of my success with “Sunshine State: Duende” and shared their own experiences. I am tremendously fortunate to have these opportunities.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

I spent my childhood on a sailboat in the Caribbean. It was a catamaran and, at the bow of the boat, a net stretched between two hulls. This was the “front yard” where I played. During rough seas, we once experienced waves reaching twenty feet in height. I “rode” on the net as the boat crested each wave, crashed down, then topped the next. It was thrilling!
One particularly large wave broke above us and the bow of the boat went through the top, not over it. When the water cleared, I had been washed half way down the boat and my father was frantically trying reach me to pull me inside. I was nine!
It was an epiphanic moment. I had no understanding of death, but I knew it was lurking beyond the breach, waiting for opportunity. There was no contemplation in that moment, no time to mull it over. Instead, I was imprinted with the understanding life is fragile and I was at the mercy of a vast and indifferent ocean. I am no adrenaline junkie, but I’ve chased that ever since. Being terrified in a theater is a safe way to flirt with those feelings. They’re important. Like laughter, fear is true. Horror movies aren’t just fun; I believe they’re necessary.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

I have been around film making all my life. I’ve tried working in the real world and learned it’s not for me. It’s fun being around creative people. I honestly don’t know what else I would do. I was bit by the bug early. Having said that, writing screenplays has allowed me to learn new things about myself. There are few things more gratifying than writing and it’s still so new and exciting.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

The hours. However, if you can’t imagine doing anything else, it’s immensely rewarding. Even on the worst days.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am uniquely thrilled my screenplay is receiving the attention it has. I am so proud of my little story. As for the rest of my career, there’s no one thing. I’ve been a part of more than seventy projects in one capacity or another. I am now able to point to a body of work and, perhaps, that is what I am most proud of.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

If you don’t have to do it, run screaming from it. There are easier ways to earn a living. It’s just too hard if you don’t love it. It’s not rocket science, but the time required of you is hard on your relationships. Friends don’t relate, spouses become jealous of the time and you can miss out on life events. With that said, if it’s in your blood and there’s nothing else you can imagine doing, there is nothing else quite like it. It certainly checks all the boxes for those who dig it.
Direct advice? Always be working. If you write, always be writing. Supplement that writing by working on a set. Call up your film office. Ask for their crew directory. Everyone is freelance in film, their contact info is out there. Respectfully call them and let them know you want to work. Ask if you can stay in touch. It’s all timing. When you get the break, be there and make their lives easier for having you. Remember, there’s nothing truer than, “the show must go on.” It must go on even if your car breaks down, your dog is sick, your boyfriend is mad at you, you have concert tickets or your best friend is getting married. If those are more important, go deal with them and they will find someone to replace you. But know, they won’t call again.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you, Shriekfest. I get excited when someone just reads my script. I never dreamed it would receive recognized by such a cool event.
Keep reading, keep writing. Don’t wait for anyone else; get your friends and go make your movie!

Kenneth Lui

Kenneth Lui
Director | Editor

Kenneth Lui

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Kenneth Lui. Mental Pictures (Website).

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

My specialty is directing and editing.

DG: What are you currently working on?

I’m finishing up my first feature film. It’s a mockumentary about assassins. Like Spinal Tap only with hitmen.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I consider James Cameron a mentor. He inspired me as a child when I first saw The Terminator which he wrote, directed and designed. I was excited by the idea that there was a job that let you write, design, and shoot your own films.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

We all have fears and fantasies and I think the horror/scfi genre is perfect for exploring the “what if” in the existential endeavor we call human existence.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

Coming together with fellow artists to create new worlds.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

Posers who don’t have respect for the craft.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Finishing my feature project.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Do your homework and endeavor to create something no one has seen before.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

Be kind to yourself and others.

Michaela Zannou

Michaela Zannou
Actor | Screenwriter | Producer

Michaela Zannou

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

MZ: Michaela Zannou, www.michaelazannou.com.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

MZ: I am primarily an actor and screenwriter. This past October I dipped my toes into filmmaking and was an executive producer for a pilot I wrote.

DG: What are you currently working on?

MZ: Currently, I am in the post-production process of “Couples Therapy”, a pilot episode I wrote, produced and starred in. “Couples Therapy” tells the story of Natalia, a couples therapist who treats high-maintenance New York couples while her own marriage is falling apart.
I am also working on finding the right “home” to produce my feature screenplay “The Retreat”, a horror/mystery about an immigrant girl and a corporate retreat gone wrong, which was a finalist on the “Shriekfest” screenwriting competition.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

MZ: That would be my screenwriting teacher Jason Greiff. He is a wonderful teacher and an even more wonderful human who has been incredibly supportive, patient and generous with his time and advice throughout my screenwriting endeavors.

DG::Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

MZ: I think people are drawn to the excitement and thrill of the genre. Each story is a mystery that unveils itself piece by piece while we are at the edge of our seats, uncertain of what may come next. I believe the audience enjoys trying to figure out what is going on and make speculations only to have their “theories” shattered by an unexpected twist. At the same time, I find that horror/scifi movies are a safe way to channel our inner darkness and live vicariously through the characters in the safety of our home or a movie theatre.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

MZ: I love the endless possibilities in storytelling. Screenplays and movies tell stories in a very direct and realistic way, it’s so easy for the audience to relate and feel a part of the movie themselves. We can tell the stories of real people who could be your friends, neighbors, or you. We can tell stories about alternate realities and fairy tales, going as far as our imagination is willing to take us. We can make people laugh, cry, reflect on things and maybe even change perspective. By telling the stories of people who are not a part of our familiar world, who perhaps have different problems, upbringing, views and surroundings, every movie has the ability to expand our horizons and open our minds just a little bit every time.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

MZ: I don’t like that it’s so hard for filmmakers to get their projects produced. It really is a shame that many talented artists are limited by lack of money and connections. Of course, that makes one work harder and I like to believe that their perseverance will eventually pay off. I can’t help but wonder, however, if things were a little easier on filmmakers and they could focus their time and energy on new projects and developing their talents uninterrupted, how many more wonderful films and stories would have come to existence?

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

MZ: I am particularly proud of writing, producing and starring in the pilot episode of “Couples Therapy”. It was the most exciting and educating experience I’ve ever had as an artist and it opened up a whole new world for me.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

MZ: Believe in yourself and your artistic voice. Collaborate and be open to other people’s input but, at the end of the day, trust your instincts. This is a marathon not a spr​int. Enjoy the journey.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

MZ: I would like to thank all the people who have inspired me as a writer and an actor. Actors, writers, directors, friends, lovers, coworkers, classmates, teachers, people who are no longer part of my life. They all left their mark on me and ignited something in me that I somehow turned into art. For that I am grateful to every single one of them.

Sean Olson

Sean Olson
Screenwriter | Director | Producer

Sean Olson

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Sean Olson, Trash Panda Entertainment, www.trashpandaentertainment.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

I specialize in filmmaking. I started out my career as an editor in both television and film, and then transitioned into writing, directing and producing.

DG: What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a new sci-fi film called Integrating Anna. It’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with artificial intelligence set 50 years into the future.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

When I first started out in the business, Lori Allred gave me my first shot as a news editor in the Phoenix market. She really took a shot on someone fresh out of college and pushed me to become the editor I am today. She focused on my fundamentals and gave me a lot of time on the AVID (this was in the early days of non-linear editing, so our news station only had two). When she moved to the Denver market, she brought me with her and created an environment where we could experiment, especially during sweeps. She even gave me an opportunity to edit my first documentary which further enhanced my storytelling skills. We ended up winning an Emmy for the doc.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

I feel the horror genre is so big because people love to be scared, especially when they are watching with an audience. With sci-fi it’s all about the imagination and the creation of worlds and characters; you get to see something that isn’t part of the real world.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

I love collaborating with so many creative people. The whole process of making a film is different each time, because each film’s needs are unique. That’s what makes it challenging and rewarding at the same time. We’re all constantly learning and innovating.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

The word deferred… it’s a nice way of saying you won’t get paid.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Taking my two sons to the theater to see a movie I directed on the big screen couldn’t be beat. Winning “Best of Fest” at the Bentonville Film Festival comes in second, it was a total shock.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Work hard and don’t give up. Do it because you love it and you can’t live without it, because to make it you have to be devoted. Networking is key, you never know where people’s path’s lead, one day someone’s assistant could be your boss, so treat everyone with respect.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

I feel very fortunate to be doing what I love and have met so many people in the business that I’ve become lifelong friends with.