10 Producers to Watch
With “Paranormal Activity” readying to open via Paramount and a raft of projects poised at other venues — including “The Colony” at Participant, “Sacred Prey” at Warner Bros. and “13: Game of Death” at Dimension — Steven Schneider may become the dark genre’s warlock of choice.
The Harvard and NYU film grad has positioned about 25 projects at various companies around Hollywood. And while he doesn’t have a deal at any studio right now, the Manhattan native says Par has been a home. “We have a deep, long, productive and prolific relationship.”
The linchpin of all this love is “Paranormal Activity,” a “verite” trip into the unknown and Oren Peli’s independently produced directorial debut. “DreamWorks, under Paramount, bought it with the intention of remaking it with the original director,” Schneider says. “We had test screenings built into the deal, so we could discern what needed to be redone in the remake. But the movie tested so well, they decided that it would be the height of folly to remake a mock-doc-type film with unknown actors.”
Adam Goodman, then with DreamWorks, bought the pic. After the DreamWorks divorce, he and “Paranormal” stayed at Par.
Goodman calls Schneider “one of the most entrepreneurial, creative go-getters that I’ve had the privilege of working with. He defines what a producer is all about, in that he creates something from nothing. He’s just looking in the corners of the room that nobody’s looking in, and he brings these gems across your desk.”
Having taught film while a grad student, Schneider has edited a dozen books on cinema (including “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”). His academic efforts were a warm-up for Hollywood. “It was a proto form of producing, where I would come up with the concept for a book and then get people who were really creative to do the actual writing, and then (I would) manage the project.”
Schneider’s immersion in horror and thrillers was a deliberate choice. “The thing I love about genre cinema is how deep it can be without being pretentious,” he says.
HOME BASE: Los Angeles
INSPIRED BY: “The Haunting” (1964), Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Stephen King, Noel Carroll’s “The Philosophy of Horror,” Howard Stern
WEB: paranormal movie.com