Shudder, the on-demand horror streaming video service backed by AMC Networks, has announced the 11 fellows selected for the inaugural Shudder Labs, an intimate and immersive workshop for aspiring genre filmmakers. Fellows will be able to advance their work through hands-on support and ongoing guidance from established horror masters. Shudder Labs will take place June 13 through June 18 at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York.

The Shudder Fellow finalists were selected from over 300 applicants across the US. The 11 winners demonstrated dedication and unique perspectives within the horror genre.

“The caliber of projects and overall submissions for the first Shudder Labs are beyond what we could have ever imagined when we developed the idea,” said Shudder curator Samuel Zimmerman. “They show the hunger for a genre-focused program and the bold new perspectives of the next generation of horror filmmaking.”

“Like a vampire, I feed off of the enthusiasm of young talent; it is invigorating to encounter new voices in the horror genre and to find out what motivates young minds to explore the art of the macabre,” said director and Master-in-Residence Larry Fessenden. “I’m very happy that Shudder has included me in this rare retreat.”

During Shudder Labs, fellows will work through their latest projects with Masters-in-Residence, led by Sam Zimmerman, and including: director Larry Fessenden (Habit, No Telling, The Last Winter), CEO of Snowfort Pictures Travis Stevens (We Are Still Here, Cheap Thrills, Starry Eyes), writer Clay McLeod Chapman (The Boy, White Space), producer Jenn Wexler (Darling, Slumber Party), Kickstarter’s George Schmalz, IFC Films’ Head of Acquisitions and Production Arianna Bocco, Josh & Sierra Russell of Russell FX (Southbound), and the Frontières International Co-Production Market’s Director Lindsay Peters. Also in attendance will be AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan, who will share insight into AMC’s history and commitment to horror.

Shudder hopes to encourage and develop undiscovered new voices from a new wave of horror filmmakers; each fellow will receive post-Labs support, including a $5,000 grant and a yearlong mentorship with one of Shudder Labs’ Masters-in-Residence, as well as donated materials from Final Draft.

Projects/fellows selected for the inaugural Shudder Labs:

As the Dust Settles / Mike Olenick

An asteroid carrying the seeds of alien life crashes down in the neighborhood where a young couple is buying a house from a dishonest realtor. When the couple settles into their new home, they unpack a secret that will change the lives of everyone in the neighborhood: the truth about what happened to the home’s previous owner. 

Mike Olenick focuses on forbidden desire, reproduction, transformation, and outer space in his projects. Mike’s films have streamed on MUBI, aired on Dutch television, and won awards at the Slamdance Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. He studied photography at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and has edited films and videos with Guy Maddin, the Quay Brothers, Kelly Reichardt, Sadie Benning, and Jennifer Reeder.

Beyond the Darkness / Shane Wheeler

A modern sorcerer must save his friends from a dark dimension, but to succeed he must overcome his own suicidal depression.

Trained as a biologist, Shane Wheeler wrote his first screenplay while working on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. Since then, he’s written, directed, and produced a number of award-winning shorts, as well as features Captive of a Death Mask (2012) & Stabbing with Frank (2016). Wheeler is a filmmaker raised in Brownstown, Michigan.

Black Bats / Rick Spears

Feeling cast out from society, two teens begin a relationship under the belief that theyre transforming into monsters. What begins as fantasy ends with horrific consequences as they both lose touch with reality.

Rick Spears is mostly known for his comic book writing, having published eleven graphic novels and numerous comics including Teenager from Mars and Dead West. Rick has also written and directed a handful of award-winning short films. BLACK BATS will be his first feature.

In the Night / Joshua Erkman

A 24-year-old running from his past starts a new job picking up the dead for a mortuary and begins to suspect powerful sinister forces are closing in on him.

Joshua Erkman is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, a USC graduate, and drummer for LA punk band LAMPS.

Lovespell / Courtney and Hillary Andujar

A teenage girl in Hawaii casts a dark spell that unlocks something sinister within herself.

Courtney and Hillary Andujar are identical twins who grew up at punk shows and in diners in Texas. Courtney is a writer and designer who has collaborated with artists and activists such as Yoko Ono, Paul Chan, and Julian Assange. Hillary is an art director who has worked internationally with Tim Burton, David Lynch, and The Wachowskis.

Polybius / Hunter Stephenson

It’s the summer of 1984 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The only thing booming louder than the arcades is the aircraft over Fort Bragg. A hip babysitter named Tiffany is determined to show the brothers Carmack the parent-free weekend of their lives. But her reality is bleeped when the younger brother, a vidiot ‘sperger named Palmer, is snatched after encountering a pylon-like arcade cabinet. Joined by a skeleton crüe, it’s up to Tiffany to kick ass, chew bubblegum and forevs destroy this trippy gamer-gateway to hell.

Hunter Stephenson is a Scottish punk. He is also a writer/producer based east of the Rockies. His recent Noisey docu-series Hot Sugar’s Cold World received the Honorable Mention at Hot Docs 2015, and was executive produced by David Gordon Green, Jody Hill, and Danny McBride.

The Eyes / Will Forbes

In 1970’s Upstate New York, there is a local legend of The Eyes, a spirit in the woods of the Catskill Mountains that consumes the souls of the lost and weary. When the favorite uncle of three local kids dies suddenly and under mysterious circumstances at the edge of those woods, the kids set out on a mission to discover the horrifying truth.

Will Forbes has been composing and producing music for visual media for nearly a decade, until he realized the best way to achieve his goal of scoring horror films was to start making them himself. Originally from Upstate New York, he currently lives in Inglewood, CA with a cat and a tortoise.

The Sound of Darkness / Melody Cooper

A blind musician and a deaf sculptor are haunted by a woman only they can see and hear, who leads them to take on an epic battle against a terrifying legacy of racial violence and evil.

Melody Cooper is a screenwriter, director and producer of Horror and Afrofuturism, and Winner of the 2016 Women in Cinema International Screenplay Competition with her horror feature MONSTROUS, which also won Third Place at Slamdance.  She is directing the supernatural thriller THE SOUND OF DARKNESS this summer.

Un-Seen / Lucy Cruell

Some things once seen, cannot be unseen.

Lucy Cruell is a graduate with honors from Duke University and Harvard Law School. Lucy has also been a published short story author, film critic for multiple publications, and entrepreneur. Her screenplays and pilots have won over three dozen awards and festivals including Shriekfest. She is now a full time writer, director, and starving artist.

What Happens Next Will Scare You / Chris LaMartina

On the verge of losing their jobs, a group of click-bait journalists struggle to compile their scariest viral videos for a Halloween listicle, but when a cursed entry brings malevolent forces into their reality, our social media junkies must figure out they’re sharing harmful content before they become victims of their own monsters.

Chris LaMartina is a Baltimore filmmaker and has been delivering high concepts on low budgets, blending horror and comedy with such films as “Call Girl of Cthulhu” and “WNUF Halloween Special” since 2007. With a curious knack for finding humor in the weird, LaMartina’s films have been critically acclaimed- playing film festivals across the globe, and garnering coverage by NPR, the New York Times, and MTV.

Additional information on the selected fellows can be found on the official Shudder Labs website: labs.shudder.com.


Jessica Creator of The Nightmare Network