Grand Prize Winner
Mommy Is Missing by Matt MacDonald
Born with a fiery passion for storytelling and high-SPF sunblock, writer/director Matt MacDonald grew up in the sweltering desert heat of Phoenix, Arizona. Scourged by the sun’s villainous UV rays, Matt opted at an early age to embrace air conditioning — devouring books, video games, and large quantities of sugared cereal.
An accomplished voice-over actor and nationally published author, Matt received his MFA in Film & Television Production from the prestigious USC School of Cinematic Arts. His work has screened at more than 40 film festivals worldwide (including the Palm Springs International ShortFest and San Diego Comic-Con), been highlighted multiple times as a Vimeo Staff Pick, and featured by the likes of Mashable, Kotaku, io9, Bloody Disgusting, Rolling Stone, and HBO’s Project Greenlight. Matt’s dad frequently tells him to “keep up the good work.”
As a writer, director, and editor, Matt has worked with brands such as Microsoft, Playboy, McDonald’s, Nike, Activision/Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Taco Bell, among many others. He was most recently selected as a writing fellow to the 2017 Shudder Labs, an independent horror development retreat produced by AMC, as well as directed the viral sensation “Not Normal,” a 12-minute animated short film created entirely with the video game Grand Theft Auto V and nominated for a 2018 MPSE Golden Reel Award. Collectively, Matt’s work has amassed close to 16 million online views.
In his free time, Matt enjoys spin class, theoretical science, and pie. His favorite Beatles song is “Hey Jude” and you’ll frequently find him in one of the many Greater Los Angeles Area Yogurtlands.
Seen by Cate Smierciak & Nick Clifford
Grand Prize Winner
The Maidservant Cap by Jeff Opdyke
Jeff Opdyke is a Louisiana-born writer who has traveled the world for his jobs (62 countries, six continents). He spent 17 years at The Wall Street Journal and seven with a Florida-based newsletter traveling globally to write about geo-politics, economics and investing. He has also written eight books under his own name and two as a ghostwriter for others.
He graduated from Louisiana State University in 1989 with a B.A. in journalism. He recently chucked everything in his life to relocate to California to attend UCLA, with an eye toward pursuing a lifelong dream of writing for television and movies. He’s currently at work on a comedy pilot. Wherever he lives, you should probably flee, since he moved to Los Angeles just in time for the Rodney King Riots, which he covered for the Orange County Register; he was in New York City as 9/11 unfolded, which he covered for The Journal; and he relocated to South Louisiana, only to get caught up driving into the maw of Hurricane Katrina, for which he was part of The Journal team nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. With that in mind, Jeff currently lives in Long Beach, California. You’ve been warned.
Wasps by Albert Cook
Grand Prize Winner
Curly Sue Found Dead by Natalia Arias
Natalia Celine Arias is a multifaceted artist and designer from Miami, Florida. She received her BFA in Graphic Design from Maryland Institute College of Art, where she also strongly focused on Video/Film Arts.
With a passion for creative direction and writing, she dedicates herself to music, film, and pop culture while emphasizing strong ties to diversity in the entertainment industry within her work.
She lives in Baltimore, MD and works as a Senior Graphic Designer for Jean Hill Studios, a full-service impact media firm specializing in film, design, photography, and social impact events. – www.nataliacarias.com
Guilda by Francine Labrecque
Grand Prize Winner
The Jersey Tapes by Pierce Vaughn & Steven Freeman
Pierce Vaughn is a British-American filmmaker who was born in France and raised in Germany. He has Swedish, Portuguese, Russian, Brazilian and Scottish ancestors. Today, he lives on the island of Borneo in faraway Indonesia.
In 2009, he graduated from Berlin’s Broadcast School for Audio Visual Media Design, working in German television as editor and motion graphics designer. That same year, he and his brother moved to Borneo, Indonesia, where they started Borneo Productions International (BPI), a film production company that went on to produce numerous documentary films about environmental and social issues. Clients include the BBC, United Nations, Channels NewsAsia, and multiple others. His film company has won several awards, including a Peabody Award shortlisting. Pierce has written numerous scripts, directed several short films, and supports young filmmakers in Borneo develop their passion for film.
After meeting Steven Freeman in 2014 and developing the idea The Jersey Tapes, they both knew they had an unbelievable story that needed to be told to a large audience.
Steven Freeman is an American photographer from New Jersey with a love for travel and adventure. If he’s not in his hometown of Ventnor, he’s likely taking dodgy canoe trips up the jungle rivers of Borneo or shooting lions in Tanzania with his DSLR.
Steve graduated in 2004 from the University of Miami, majoring in photojournalism and cultural anthropology. In 2014, Steven traveled to Indonesia for a teaching job, where he met filmmaker Pierce Vaughn. With a shared passion for horror movies, Steve and Pierce started developing the idea The Jersey Tapes–a stranger-than-fiction story based on true events from Steve’s years as a teenager growing up in New Jersey. They believe they are on to creating something dark and authentic.
Death Warrant by Scott McCloud
Untitled Comedy by Leigh Smith