Written by Max Lehman | Directed by Cleo Handler - After his father goes missing, a hen pecked Jewish school teacher searches for him at the insistence of his mother and finds himself in trouble with kosher vampires, monster hunters, and Nazis in the bygone Borscht Belt.
Horror comedy, Cleo's films have screened across the globe at prestigious film festivals, and the script has won and been selected by several industry competitions.
CHILDREN OF THE SUN
Written by Miranda Bowden-Parker | Directed by Wanjiru M. Njendu Desperate for sanctuary from an unforgiving sun, a Black family embarks on a perilous journey across a post-apocalyptic landscape but encounters a barbaric white clan that believes Black skin will protect them from the sun’s fatal rays.
Horror/thriller, Wanjiru Njendu's short "Stray" was produced by 20th Digital Studio.
Written & Directed by Jenna Payne - Tired of being dismissed, a chronically ill and undiagnosed patient takes matters into her own hands, murders most of her doctors, and blows up an insurance company.
Dark comedy/medical revenge, Selected for Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin's Resource Lab 2022 directing incubator, finalist for 2021 Sundance Development Track.
Written & Directed by Charles Pieper - The crushing pressures of marriage, fatherhood, and a book deadline eat away at a writer’s sanity until he’s convinced his baby daughter is a hideous crustacean creature that must be destroyed for the sake of his novel…
Charles's short version of MALACOSTRACA is currently streaming as part of Shudder & The Horror Collective's BEYOND THE DARK, and his feature script DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS is in post-production with RJLE.
Written by Mary Iacono | Directed by Puppett - A white hipster couple buy a house in a gentrifying neighborhood where they feel unwelcome. When strange things start to happen, they blame their Latino neighbors, inciting the avenging ghost who will stop at nothing to drive them out.
Horror/comedy, Puppett's award-winning short "Wedlocked" was distributed by Hewes & Revry.
Written & Directed by Todd Jacobs & Jenna Kanell - Fresh out of jail and desperate to provide a better life for her little brother, a young indigenous woman accepts a housesitting job in a gated community, unaware that she’s the sacrificial target of an ancient and hungry paranormal force.
Jenna's award-winning films have screened at over 50 festivals and institutions worldwide, including Harvard Medical School, LA Skins Fest, Outfest, and more. She recently wrapped on an action comedy short executive produced by Jason Reitman.
Jenna Payne rented Robert Wise’s “The Haunting” for her 2nd grade slumber party and has proudly creeped out friends, family, and colleagues ever since. She won an award for her first ever short film “Feline Frenzy” and has continued to challenge herself with each project.
Jenna worked as a line producer prior to her disability, crafting miracles on a shoestring for many years. For the past few years, Jenna has been building this production company and incubator for emerging filmmakers in the genre space and is seeking collaborators who love horror, action, sci fi, and crime as much as she does.
She worked with the 501c3 non-profit Cinefemme to support and promote women filmmakers in the industry. She founded and ran their dinner mentorship series called Dinner with Dames that put diverse women at the table with Hollywood movers and shakers for mentorship opportunities. The series hosted guests such as Paul Feig, Dean Cundey, and Zoe Bell.
A storyteller at heart, Jenna’s scripts have placed in multiple industry contests, and she has since incorporated development into her work, polishing all Disaster Capital scripts in concert with the creative teams who love her notes. Jenna has a few award-winning short films that toured film festivals and has published a full color comic book from her madcap series “Zompire Vixens from Pluto!” Jenna is eager to make her mark and build a sustainable way for Hollywood to uplift diverse storytellers – with a bite.
Miranda Bowden-Parker wrote her first story, about a mushroom invasion of earth, at age eight. Born second the last of six girls and one boy, writing became an outlet for Bowden, defining her creative spirit amongst her equally talented siblings. The native Angeleno’s stories have grown to include her debut novel, “Caitlin,” a thrilling story of family secrets, nightmares, and secret societies. She has just finished writing for Disney's new series, “Pretty Freekin' Scary,” and AMC ALLBLK's, “Partners In Rhyme.” These days she is currently a senior scriptwriter for Bentley Kyle Evans’ Bent Outta Shape Productions and a writer on the equally hilarious TV shows, “In the Cut,” “Family Time,” and “Hip Hop Squares.” Miranda is an industry veteran and has been a finalist in Color Creative’s ABFF Script-to-Screen, Charles D. King’s Macro Episodic Lab, Creative Lab’s Script-to-Screen, and Write in Color. Additionally, she has served as Story Consultant for TRUTV, and Story Editor for an Ali Leroy project.
Cleo Handler is a director/writer/actor who loves horror/comedy, music/theater, and slashes/hyphens. She has created and directed several original films (The Living, Olympian, #LifeOnAir), and written several others (Bye Bye Baby, Out to Lunch, Moon Party, & the musical webseries Young Like Us). Her work has screened at Frightfest, Flickers Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival, Film Shortage, and more, and her screenplay GOOD GIRL was a 2022 Sundance Development Track/Sloan Grant Second Round Selection.
Still from OLYMPIAN, Director: Cleo Handler, DP: Johnny Sousa
Her musicals From THE FIRE and GLASS ACT were featured in Broadway’s Future Songbook at Lincoln Center, winners of the Players Theater Off-Broadway Musical Production Program, and semi-finalists for the O’Neill National Music Theatre Conference. She’s worked in production for SYFY/USA’s CHUCKY and Showtime’s COUPLES THERAPY, and recently released an album called gold. She studied at the William Esper Studio and Yale, where she was an O’Neill Playwriting Fellow.
Mary Iacono is a writer in Los Angeles. She recently co-wrote an episode of Disney’s MECH-X4 and has worked in writers rooms on many TV series including OCTOBER FACTION, ARROW, DEFIANCE, and NUMB3RS, where she wrote comic books, digital extras, and promotions. Currently Mary is focusing her efforts as an organizer with the Writers Guild and IATSE, as well as smaller, less publicized labor actions across the country.
She currently has a scripted romcom podcast being shopped by Five-Fifty-Five and Rainshine Media. PIONEERS was written as a mea culpa after a late night argument with her neighbors highlighted her privilege, nearly bringing out the worst in her.
Todd Jacobs (Tuscarora, Haliwa-Saponi, and Lumbee) worked in the IT field for twelve years before pivoting to the world of film. He has managed teams of over 300 people at the intersection of technology and creative content.
He wrote and produced "Playtime's Over," a horror short which screened at over thirty film festivals (including Fangoria's Monster Fest in Australia), was nominated for best writing among other awards, and ended up hand-picked by Joe Bob Briggs for his Haunted Drive-In show.
Still from TRAP DOOR IN THE SUN, Co-Directors: Todd Jacobs and Jenna Kanell, DP: Sidarth Kantamneni
Todd also wrote the sci-fi short "Dandelion," which played at Dragon Con and won Best Sci-Fi Film at the LA Film Awards. He went on to co-write and co-produce the short film version of “Trap Door In The Sun,” which premiered at Vancouver Horror Show and LA Skins Fest.
He currently writes and consults on scripts of all kinds and writes articles for multiple online publications about anything from films to sports to politics. He lives with Khaleesi, a cat in the body of a husky.
Jenna Kanell delivered a TEDx Talk on the experience of stepping behind the camera for the first time, alongside her neurodivergent brother. She has since written, first assistant directed, and produced features, directed and edited fundraising videos, and written and directed numerous award-winning short films with worldwide festival runs.
One of her more recent projects as a director, “Bliss Is Orange,” garnered nearly 100k views thus far on Gunpowder & Sky’s DUST platform. She also co-wrote, produced, and directed the short film version of “Trap Door In The Sun,” which premiered at Vancouver Horror Show and LA Skins Fest.
As an action actor, Jenna Kanell has performed while riding motorcycles, stunt driving cars, airborne in harnesses, underwater, with weapons, and in countless fight scenes. Horror fans may recognize her from TERRIFIER, THE BYE BYE MAN, RENFIELD, and many other projects.
Jenna is of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent and identifies as queer and gender non-conforming. She’s proudest of teaching her cat how to high five.
Max Lehman is a New Yorker through and through. Unfortunately, he was actually raised in New Jersey by his neurotic Jewish parents. Though he always felt like he grew up on the wrong side of the Hudson River, Max managed to survive in a blue-collar, confederate flag waving part of the state no one seems to acknowledge. When with friends, he’s hoping someone will have a question about a movie, especially if it involves monsters, serial killers, or Mel Brooks.
Max discovered his love for comedy and writing in high school and explored it further while studying Theater at Hofstra University. Max has studied acting, improv, and sketch, and developed his passion for screenwriting into a full-time pursuit.
Max continues to write for the screen and performs stand-up in LA and is working to develop a new era of horror-comedy with impactful stories that have more than a run-of-the-mill-scary-monster-in-the-woods storylines.
Wanjiru Njendu is an award-winning filmmaker originally from Kenya, whose creative imagination earned her the nickname 'Magic' at a young age.
Her award-winning short film “Boxed” which played over 200 film festivals, with numerous wins and nominations. “Boxed” was selected by the Académie des César for their 2021-2022 Nuits en Or program. The film was also honored with the Abraham Lincoln Award for Best film on Liberty and Equality by the Chicago International Indie Film Festival. Her other films have played in over 100 Festivals.
Wanjiru was honored by the Roxbury International Film Festival with the 2021 Rox Vision Award. Wanjiru directed a horror short “Stray,” which was acquired by 20th Digital Studios with a feature option. She was the shadowing director on the Netflix series DAYBREAK. During the pandemic, she filmed a docs-series “Built for Good Africa” on Green Buildings in Africa.
Still from STRAY, Director: Wanjiru Njendu, DP: Bongani Mlambo
Wanjiru is developing several scripted film and television projects. Wanjiru is repped by M88, Gersh, and ITG and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
Jenna Payne has a penchant for dark content, buckets of blood, and fast talking. She won an award for her first ever short film, “Feline Frenzy,” and her scripts and short films have been recognized and featured in multiple contests and festivals.
For the past few years, Jenna has battled the US healthcare system in addition to autoimmune disease and has channeled her rage into a feature-length dark comedy/medical revenge called “Hysteria.” The script has rave reviews and a short proof of concept - directed mostly remotely during Covid-19 lockdowns - depicts some of the barriers to diagnosis and care and toured film festivals including 2023’s disability-focused horror festival Access: Horror. She is now working with Production Designer, VFX specialist, and miniature maker Fon Davis (NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, INTERSTELLAR, MARVEL) to create miniature sets for the feature version of HYSTERIA and a sequestered production plan to keep cast and crew safe as someone who is at high risk.
Jenna was selected for Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin's Resource Lab directing incubator for 2022, and her prognosis for Ankylosing Spondylitis, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and more have thankfully improved over the course of this project - as has her sharp sense of humor.
Charles Pieper is a Los Angeles based writer/director. He's directed numerous short films and has written several feature screenplays. He recently sold his script DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS to RLJE/Shudder starring Alex Winter and Jonah Ray in 2023. Charles comes from an animation background, specifically stop motion, but works most frequently in live action production.
His short film “Malacostraca” played in over 30 festivals across the world including top horror fests such as Overlook, Beyond Fest, and Motel X, before premiering online at Director’s Notes and then ALTER. The feature length screenplay expansion of it was a horror semi-finalist in the 2021 Austin Film Festival.
Still from MALACOSTRACA, Director: Charles Pieper, DP: Ava Benjamin Shorr
Beyond the script sale, he recently produced the new stop motion animated short “Everybody Goes to the Hospital” which is currently making the fest rounds. He attended Emerson College in Boston as well as studied film and animation at FAMU, NCSA, Calarts, and MassArt.
Puppett is a non-binary queer filmmaker who focuses on character-driven genre and comedies with a social impact lens. Born in Washington DC, they grew up in suburban Maryland and rural Pennsylvania, feeling perpetually out of place. While placing female, queer, and trans characters in leading roles, Puppett's stories include themes around identity and belonging.
Their work has been featured on USA Today, HuffPost, and Out.com, and screened in 55+ film festivals around the world, including Academy Award Qualifying festivals Slamdance and Outfest. They directed an episode of the Emmy-Nominated series "Razor Tongue," which also garnered a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD. Puppett's professional directorial debut, "Wedlocked," penned by Guinevere Turner (American Psycho, Charlie Says), collected festival awards and secured SVOD and AVOD distribution (starring Beth Grant, Sally Kirkland). Puppett is currently developing several projects, ranging from a suburban goth drama to an urban horror comedy, all of which center female and LGBTQ+ protagonists.
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