Each year our Spec Book brings you a holistic review of the past year in the spec market, and each year, there are a few notable all-stars – writers who not only saw one of their scripts hit the market, but who managed to get the industry’s attention in the process. The following writers all have the distinction of being included on all four of the major “best of” lists: The Black List, Blood List, Hit List, and the Young & Hungry List. Over the past year they’ve all set the spec market ablaze and we can’t wait to see their work on the big screen.
Lori Evans Taylor
Lori Evans Taylor burst onto the scene in 2015 with her tightly wound horror thriller Bed Rest. Originally an aspiring actor, the New York-born scribe is a veteran reality producer of shows such as the CBS daytime program Lucky Dog. Evans Taylor first came to the attention of television producers with her original pilot Grand Avenue. She was soon staffed on soaps Desire and Wicked, Wicked Games. Her first feature credit, Bed Rest follows an expectant mother who, due to pregnancy complications, is put on bed rest. Alone and confined in the house, the woman starts to notice that the house might be inhabited by evil spirits. A Hitchcockian thriller with shades of Rear Window and What Lies Beneath, Bed Rest came to the attention of contained thriller master Chris Sparling (Buried) and Twilight Saga producer Karen Rosenfelt.
Evans Taylor’s management at Kaplan/Perrone went out with it over the summer and MGM purchased the spec for a mid-six figure deal after a competitive situation with interest from several parties. The spec’s rapid ascension landed Evans Taylor on the 2015 Black List, Blood List, Young & Hungry List, and the Hit List. With a relatable concept and tight construction, look for Bed Rest to become a hit with audiences in the coming years.
Ori Guendelman & Rob McClelland
Champan alums Ori Gundelman and Rob McClelland stormed the spec market this year with their thriller Bump, which follows a young lawyer whose life unravels when over the span of one night as he attempts to dispose of a corpse that turns out to be far more than an innocent victim. The spec put the duo on all four of the “best of” lists and is currently set up at Universal with Working Title attached to produce. The heart pounding thriller keeps the reader guessing with a series of startling twists and turns that keeps its audience entranced until the last page. On the heels of their massive year, Gundelman and McClelland are keeping up the momentum, currently developing their genre-bending pilot Eidetic with 3 Arts. Guendelman and McClelland are repped by Paradigm and 3 Arts.
A wordsmith who works in a variety of mediums, Owen Egerton set the spec market alight with The Boy. The horror thriller follows a woman who returns to her hometown to live with her sister and nephew sixteen years after stabbing a classmate to appease a spirit known as The Boy. But as the Boy continues to haunt her, she must face her deepest terror to discover the truth before he claims her nephew. The spec created a huge buzz on the market and landed Egerton on all four of the year end “best of” lists. The Austin based scribe is no stranger to year end “best of” lists. He co-wrote Bobbie Sue, which landed on the 2008 Black List before being scooped up by Warner Brothers and his psychological horror spec Follow landed him on the 2015 Young & Hungry List.
Egerton later directed his own script and the film premiered at Fantastic Fest in 2015 and later received a nomination for Best American Independent Feature at the Cleveland International Film Festival. He has also authored four novels including The Book Of Harold, which was optioned by Warner Bros. for a television series. The multi-talented entertainer has also been voted Austin’s favorite author three times by readers of the Austin Chronicle. In addition to his writing, Egerton performs as a member of the Alamo Drafthouse’s Master Pancake Theater and hosts public radio’s “The Write Up”. He is repped by UTA and Epicenter.
Miles Hubley & Tom White
Miles Hubley & Tom White’s The Shave set the market ablaze when it went out last year and in a matter of weeks was set up with Lost City, Route One and Chris Columbus producing. The story is a heart palpitating thriller about a dirty cop, exonerated in the murder of a high school honor student, who visits the boy’s father at his barbershop, and while receiving a straight razor shave listens to him recount the story of his son’s life. With strong characters and a dark tone, the nonlinear spec is a fresh face on the spec market and has been described as production-ready. The duo have also explored directing through helming the buddy comedy short Folly of Two, inspired by the works of Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett. Hubley and White are repped by WME and MXN.
David Chirchirillo’s supernatural thriller Eli stormed the market last year and was quickly snapped up by Broad Green Pictures with Bellevue producing. The spec offers a twist on the haunted house thriller as eleven year old Eli moves into a “clean house” to treat his auto-immune disorder. Unable to leave, Eli soon realizes that the house, and the doctor who runs it, are more sinister than they appear. A Columbia College grad, Chirchirillo got his start in the industry as the production assistant for low-budget horror auteur Trent Haaga. Chirchirillo then wrote a draft of Dances With Werewolves, a Civil War-era werewolf movie about a group of Confederate POWs who escape a Union prison camp and soon encounter a tribe of shape-shifting Native American werewolves with an insatiable blood lust.
However, Chirchirillo is most well known for penning the 2013 horror comedy cult hit Cheap Thrills, which won numerous awards on the festival circuit including the Audience Award and Best First Feature at SXSW. In addition to his film work, Chirchirillo also served as Head Writer for Playboy TV’s The Playboy Morning Show. He is repped by APA and Bellevue.
This diverse group of writers stormed the market last year their breakout specs, making a bold introduction to the industry by landing on multiple lists and proving they have what it takes to take their careers to the next level. We’ll look forward to following these writers as they continue to flourish for years to come.
John Drain | Staff Writer