Announcing the Winners of the Epic Pictures/Dread Central/ScareLA Pitch Contest!

Last month we helped launch a pitch contest where filmmakers could get $5,000 toward creating a crowdfunding campaign as well as a development financing deal with Epic Pictures Group that would include promotional support through us and ScareLA.

To enter, filmmakers had to submit a 250-word pitch as well as a character summary that would then be evaluated by several judges (myself included) before it was determined who would go on to the next round. However, since there were so many fantastic submissions, we realized that we couldn’t pick just one so we picked THREE people to move forward where they will meet with Epic Pictures’ development team to develop their pitches and prepare their projects for production, including budgeting and a financing plan.

Depending on how things go, one, two, or possibly all three projects will be awarded $5,000 toward a crowdfunding campaign, which will be supported by Indiegogo, Epic Pictures Group, ScareLA, and Dread Central.

So, without further ado, here are the three projects that will be moving forward!

David Barak’s THE NAZCA DIG

Bio: Dave Barak’s work in film began with 16mm and has continued with the introduction of digital technology. He’s filled several behind-the-camera roles, including those of writer, director, cinematographer, and others. He’s worked on feature films, short films, and television shows. When necessary, Dave has reluctantly stepped in front of the camera, including one appearance as an elderly woman.

Before film, Dave worked as a newspaper and magazine photographer, a newspaper copy editor, illustrator, and even as a restaurant reviewer. He served in the US Navy as a San Diego-based Sensor Operator (SENSO) aboard S-3A Viking aircraft, deploying aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

Pitch: Erica Franklin spends the summer supervising an archaeological team searching for artifacts and mummified bodies in the desert outside Nazca, Peru.

Trouble plagues the team from the very beginning, when a mysterious disease sickens several people, killing one. Erica believes they’ve released pathogens harbored in recently unearthed bodies, but local workers hired to help out refuse to show up, claiming a curse is causing the problem.

Although a skeptic, Erica gives in to pressure and calls in a priest to bless the project. The workers return, and routine settles in, but not for long.

Disease ends up being the least of their problems after a jar containing the mummified head of a snake is found, its mouth pinned shut by two huarango tree spines – the same way warriors of the ancient Nazca culture prepared the severed heads of their vanquished enemies. Each new artifact introduces an unexplained and often deadly complication to be handled.

Despite Erica’s misgivings, a curse seems to be the only explanation.

Sophia Cacciola’s THE CAUL

Bio: Sophia Cacciola is a director and cinematographer known for sociopolitical micro-budget horror and sci-fi feature films including the feminist vampire throwback Blood of the Tribades and the cerebral time-loop trance, Magnetic. Her award-winning films have played at more than 40 film festivals and have been distributed world-wide. In addition to her film work, Sophia is also an accomplished no-wave punk singer-songwriter drummer with The Prisoner-inspired band Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.

Pitch: The Caul is a 70s giallo-inspired, allegorical mystery. Vulnavia is a centenarian witch who uses blood rituals to keep the evil of the world balanced with the good. She is reaching the end of her life and must set out to find her replacement: a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter born with a caul.

A desperate man, Battista, approaches the witch Vulnavia after his wife, Donna, a seventh daughter, has miscarried for the sixth time. Vulnavia agrees to help ensure that Donna’s seventh pregnancy will be successful, under one condition: Battista must sacrifice himself by walking into the ocean during a full moon on the night of his daughter’s birth to give the child the gift of the caul. Battista agrees to this deal, unbeknownst to his wife, who then raises their child, Caterina, alone.

Some years later, as Caterina is on the cusp of womanhood, Donna notices changes in her daughter’s behavior that have her worried that Caterina is possessed by an evil force. The fear worsens as Donna begins piecing together the circumstances of Caterina’s conception, birth, and Battista’s sacrifice while researching demonic rituals in dusty libraries. As Donna fears Caterina will be taken by the increasingly powerful forces of evil taking hold of their town, she races against time to rescue her daughter.

Vulnavia performs her final blood ritual to commemorate Caterina’s transition, and Donna must recognize that fate has given Caterina a greater purpose. Donna must release Caterina and accept her ascension to guardian.

Chayne Greer’s THE SUICIDE PACT

Bio: Chain Greer was introduced to horror from a young age, and productions such as “Tales from fhe Crypt” and Halloween have had a large impact on her life and given her a deep rooted love for the horror genre. She was also taught to read early on in my life, and her love for books has influenced her talent for writing. She has been writing since she could hold a pen and has been working toward completing many novels, short stories, and poems for several years. In her spare time she continues to hone this craft, always trying to write something new and come up with more unique ideas.

Pitch: Almost everyone considers suicide at least once in their lives. For several, they consider it more than that. For several more, they follow through. But what if we could change that? What if we could see what would happen to us after we commit the taboo act? Would we still want to die, even after we’ve lived a day in that world? Or would we try to live, to fight, to help others going through the same struggle?

The Suicide Pact is simple: Travel to a proverbial purgatory, battle the monsters lurking there, assist others in the same situation, and win the war against the worst demon of all: yourself. And if you make it through all of that, you get to make a choice: continue on your original path to commit suicide, or take a second chance at life. You’ve got nothing to lose. Right?

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Jonathan Barkan

Lifelong horror fan with a love of music on the side.

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