SVA Alumnus Ryan Turek Brings 'Halloween' Early to SVA Theatre's After School Special
September 12, 2019
by Rodrigo Perez
Transforming a passion into a full-fledged career has been Ryan Turek's (BFA 1998 Film) specialty. Fresh out of the College, the SVA alumnus turned directly toward his enthusiasm for horror movies. Cut to 21 years later, and an unconventional but fruitful career in film as journalist and filmmaker, and Turek is coming full circle to introduce 2018's Halloween—a passion project he co-produced—at the SVA Theatre's annual After School Special next week at a midnight madness screening. (The event will also feature fellow SVA alumni Warren Drummond, a storyboard artist, and Michael Simmonds, a cinematographer, both of whom also worked on the film.)
Ambitious and entrepreneurial, Turek began his career as a film blogger. But before that, he was just one of many who moved to LA with dreams of making it big in Hollywood, spending his free time—when not penning what he described as "bad spec screenplays"—writing on horror message boards. Connecting with the community there, his passion, knowledge and insight soon spiraled into writing for Fangoria and some of the early horror fan blogs that soon gained legitimacy. Eventually, he co-founded Dread Central, a prominent horror film site that still thrives today.
"I moved out to LA with the hopes and dreams of becoming a film director," he said with a chuckle, acknowledging the wide-eyed confidence of it all. "I quickly learned that it is not all that easy. However, horror always remained something that I absolutely loved and I knew no matter what I was going to do in this town it had to be related to this genre."
Traveling to all the horror film festival and conventions, Turek quickly carved out a unique brand and identity for himself that made him stand out from the pack of growing film bloggers. "The notion of being a quote-unquote horror journalist was something I just kind of coined for myself," he said. "And then I started introducing myself like that when I went to horror-movie conventions and it grew its own life."
Turek spent 14 years as horror-film journalist and then one day, circa 2014, got a call to meet producer Jason Blum, the founder of Blumhouse Productions, the world's premier horror studio, which has made films like the Academy Award-nominated Get Out, Us, popular horror franchises like The Purge, Insidious, Sinister, Paranormal Activity and many more.
The meeting didn't seem too out of the ordinary, Turek had interviewed Blum dozens of times over the years. This time, however, the meeting turned into an offer: come over to the other side and help make movies at Blumhouse. Turek didn't even blink at the opportunity. After co-producing films like Happy Death Day and Truth or Dare, Turek started thinking about the then-dormant Halloween series—his most personally treasured horror franchise—and made an impassioned pitch to Blum to see if they could secure the rights.
Blum, absorbed by the proposal, did his thing and chased the project. "Months later I'm sitting at Miramax with all of the major heads who are involved in Halloween," he said. "And I'm doing my song and dance about how Halloween deserves another shot, how Michael Myers deserves to be scary again, and we just need to go back its roots."
The pitch paid off. Halloween was given to Blumhouse and the film grossed $76 million in its opening weekend, breaking records in the process, including becoming one of the horror studio's all-time highest-grossing movies.
Since this conversation, two back-to-back Halloween sequels have been announced, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends, which will arrive in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Turek will once again co-produce. After School Special: The 2019 School of Visual Arts Alumni Film and Animation Festival begins Wednesday, September 18, and runs through Sunday, September 22. Halloween screens at midnight on Saturday, September 21, followed by a group Q&A with Turek, Drummond (BFA 1984 Media Arts) and Simmonds (BFA 2000 Film and Video). All screenings are free and open to the public; RSVP here.