Big Break Behind the Scenes: Judge, Manager and Creator of The Blood List, Kailey Marsh
Photo credit Aaron Barry
Final Draft: How did you get started in your career?
Kailey Marsh: I have been obsessed with movies my entire life. I would watch The Wizard of Oz and Bedknobs and Broom Sticks, Poltergiest, Tremors, Never Ending Story, etc. over and over. I was borderline spending too much time in front of the TV, but also was making sure to get out and do kid stuff. I had a really wild imagination at a young age. I definitely knew that I wanted to make movies. I watched a lot of TV too, especially Matlock, I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie – all the stuff my Mom had grown up on. My Dad was a huge genre fan so I was watching tons of horror movies at a young age…and WWE. I have old binders filled with interviews I did with my friends and family about their favorite movies, and movie reviews I used to write. As a teen, I would read any books I could find on filmmaking, was obsessed with Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert, and would go to Barnes and Noble to read Variety.
My mom was actually the one who convinced me to move out to L.A. for college. I’m from Naples, Florida, and I moved out to L.A. right after graduating high school. I went to the Art Institute of Los Angeles and got my degree in motion picture, and television. I was interning at the time, transitioning into being an assistant for Steven Schneider on Paranormal Activity. I worked with him for maybe a year-and-a-half. Then I moved to Circle of Confusion where I worked for Ken Freimann and Noah Rosen. After my time there, where I learned a ton, I went out on my own. I’ve been managing ever since and… I LOVE IT.
FD: What would you say is the best part of your job?
KM: I love getting to work one-on-one with writers and directors; most importantly, when I get to call them to tell them their idea sold or their movie found financing. I become so invested in peoples’ lives and their ideas. They become like family, ideally. We will commiserate about stuff and we will talk about their kids and their family. Being a manager is a very multi-faceted job. Having my name on the door (Kailey Marsh Media) can be very stressful at times, but it makes the wins that much greater for me. I currently have 4 staffed clients, writing and directing tv shows and video games, and my feature clients are working all around town. It’s very fulfilling watching my clients grow.
FD: What are some of your favorite projects, and genres to work in?
KM: I’m definitely known for horror and that’s great, but I love working in all genres. I think that is something that has really helped me out; while developing horror, I draw from lots of other genres.
The most fun that I’ve had recently is working on this new Craig Walendziak action/adventure script that is a super-big, popcorn flick. It’s very Romancing the Stone meets National Treasure. It’s the kind of movie you are willing to pay $20 to go see in the theatre. I think there is always going to be a market for spectacle films. Developing material with a client that hits on all cylinders is exciting. I also love developing animated TV shows and want to make a musical SO badly. I just respond to great characters.
The characters are the most important part of any script. If you’re a good writer, you can write good characters and you can put them in any setting in any genre.
FD: How do you find your clients?
KM: I actually found my new client James Hutchinson via Twitter very recently! I put a shout out on Twitter for a high-octane action writer, and I got so many queries that I’m still sorting through them all. (If any of you are reading this that queried me, I will get to them as soon as I can, I promise!) I read 4 scripts by James, and was like “Woah, who is this guy?” I found my animation director/creator Michael John Roberts via Vimeo. Some writers I have met at events, really liked their personality, and asked them to read something and they became clients as well. Clients can be found literally anywhere.
FD: What advice would you give writers who are looking to get to the next level of their careers?
KM: Don’t rely on any one person or any one thing. Rely on yourself. The biggest things that a writer should be doing is writing, reading and watching. They should not compare themselves to anybody or read the trades and think that they are missing out or that people are doing better than them. Focus on yourself. Keep your eye on the prize. Only write scripts that you are passionate about. It will show through in your writing.
Do not take it personally if someone doesn’t respond to your material. On the other hand, NEVER underestimate the power of someone else’s passion for your project. If I don’t like something, it’s really obvious, but if I do like something I will hound you. I can’t fake my enthusiasm. I’m just not good at it.
Be really targeted with your queries, and be specific to each person you’re querying. If no one responds, send it to ten more places and do not think twice about those people who don’t respond because it is not personal. People seem very entitled lately, but the truth is that no one owes you a read, or a response. This industry is extremely unpredictable and you really have to roll with the punches. There’s no way to know what will happen with you, or your clients or material. Have faith, have an opinion, put yourself out there and work your ass off.
FD: Can you talk about the Blood List; why you do it, and do you have any future plans for it?
KM: I created the Blood List less than a year after graduating college, so I feel like it helped me kickstart my career. I have always loved horror and now, so many years later I keep doing it because writers seem to really appreciate it. It’s helped get writers work, and their films made. Horror fans are insanely passionate, and it’s fun to be a part of that community.
My dream for the Blood List is to grow the brand into a producing and financing entity. I want to produce left of center, fun, horror movies and television through the label. I am building it out so I can hire an executive or two to just focus on the annual Blood List, and the films it will produce. I, personally, need there to be more of a clear separation between me as a manger and me as a person who created the brand because in my actual business they are very separate. There are a couple of strategic partnerships I am working on right now to build out the Blood List / BloodList.com brand and start producing genre under the label. Stay tuned!
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