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What Exactly is a Death Cat?

Death Cat Entertainment is the production company created by siblings Brian Rish and Jocelyn Rish, but how did the company get its name?

You probably heard about the cat who lives in a nursing home and can predict when the patients are going die. Well, after Jocelyn read about it, she wrote a short story inspired by this cool, creepy kitty and named the file DeathCat.doc as a placeholder. She later gave the story the less murderous-y feline name of Saying Goodbye. 

Then Jocelyn and Brian won a grant to turn the story into a short film. When they brought the director on board, he always referred to the film as Death Cat, not knowing that had been the original working title. Pretty soon everyone was calling it Death Cat, so when it came time for the Rish siblings (or the Rishlings, as some people call them) to pick a name for their production company, of course it was going to be Death Cat Entertainment. 

A production company with the word ‘death’ in the name is perfect because the Rishlings have loved horror movies since they were probably too young to be watching them. Luckily, their parents gave them the freedom to watch what they enjoyed, even if that meant nights when they slept with the lights on to keep the bogeymen at bay. All these years later, the Rishlings are teaming up to create a collection of fun and entertaining short horror films.

The 411 on Brian

“The Stuff” is the first film Brian can remember that really scared him. Seriously, what’s not scary about an intergalactic, yet tasty goop that takes over your mind before melting you alive? Click here for the trailer - prepare to be terrified! 

When not recovering from flashbacks of “The Stuff,” producing and directing short films, or working on Grave Intentions, Brian runs a popular physical therapy YouTube channel that has nearly 150,000 subscribers.

Brian lives in South Carolina with his awesome pup, Remy!

The 411 on Jocelyn

While her friends played with their My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Jocelyn was watching Freddy, Jason, and Michael and reading Stephen King. Now she creates her own twisted tales as a writer and filmmaker. 

The thing that terrifies Jocelyn more that gore and guts is making a decision, so she can’t settle on one format for her writing. Luckily, she’s won awards for her screenplays, short stories, and novels, so she feels justified in continuing to experiment. She also had fun doing a stint writing for the MTV News website.

Jocelyn lives in Charleston with a menagerie of pets; and, yes, she’s one of those people who puts party hats on her dogs and makes them “cakes” for their birthdays.

Films from Death Cat Entertainment 

Saying Goodbye

After her entire family is killed by a drunk driver, Alma moves into a southern nursing home, lonely and without hope. Eunice, her spunky new neighbor, befriends Alma and encourages her to enjoy living again. Soon this dynamic duo are kicking up their heels and entertaining the residents and staff with their antics. Even when Eunice is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they maintain their determination to live life to the fullest. But this nursing home is special: a cat with the uncanny ability to predict death prowls the halls. When he sets his sights on the two women, their carpe diem spirit is put to the test.

Written and produced by Jocelyn and Brian

High Heels & Hoodoo

Tiffany seems like a typical blond bimbo, but underneath all that plastic surgery are nerves of steel. She's so determined to get what she wants that she hires a Gullah root doctor to help her cross over into the spirit world for one last conversation with her grandmother. But this party girl should have remembered magic always comes with a price.

Written and produced by Jocelyn
Directed and produced by Brian

Get the Exposure Your Work Deserves!

We want to introduce your short project to the world. Whether you have a shiny new short film that’s just entering the festival scene, a short film that’s been gathering dust on the internet, or a short script you want to see come to life, we want to help you get it in front of audiences who love horror.

Still not sure if you should submit? Check out the FAQ below for more info. And if you still have questions, give us a shout using our Contact Page.

 

GENERAL

Why should I submit to you guys?

We think the fact that each winner gets 500 smackaroos is a great reason to submit!

You’re right, it is! So how do I submit?

Grave Intentions proudly accepts entries via FilmFreeway.com, the world's best online submission platform. FilmFreeway offers free HD online screeners, unlimited video storage, digital press kits, and more. Click here to submit with FilmFreeway.

If you are new to FilmFreeway, your first step will be to create an account and then create a “project” for your submission. Make sure to include an email address/phone number that is checked regularly in case we need to get in touch with you. Please refer to FilmFreeway for help on how to submit. Do not email us your projects, since we cannot consider anything that has not been officially submitted through FilmFreeway.

When are you accepting entries?

The submission window opens October 3, 2017, and closes February 28, 2018.

How much does it cost to enter?

Entry Fees range from $20 - $50, depending on when you submit, so don’t plod along like a zombie – submit today!

October 1 – October 31: $20

November 1 - December 31: $35

January 1 - January 31: $45

February 1 - February 28: $50

Do you waive submission fees?

No, we don’t waive fees because we want to maintain the integrity of the competition by making sure no project is favored over another, so the same rules apply to everyone. We don’t offer student rates for the same reason.

What are the different categories for submission?

We are accepting short screenplays of 15 pages or less.

We are accepting narrative short films of 30 minutes or less.

The screenplays and films should broadly fit the horror genre. Within that, there’s a lot of leeway for anything that sends a thrill up our spines, such as suspense, thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, psychological thrillers, paranormal, supernatural, horror-comedy, horror-dramas, slasher, mumblegore, monsters, creatures, vampires, zombies, psycho killers, as well as animation that incorporates any of the above.

How many films/scripts can I submit?

As many as you want! As long as they fit the criteria and you pay an entry fee for each one.

Do you have any ratings limitations? Must films/scripts be PG or PG-13?

Due to the ways we want to distribute the anthology, we are only accepting films that fit an R rating or below. The same goes for the screenplays.

I’m having issues submitting my project. What should I do?

There might be high traffic on the FilmFreeway website, so wait a few minutes and try again. If you continue to have problems, try another web browser or try submitting from a different computer. If that still doesn’t work, then contact FilmFreeway directly.

Who are the judges?

The judges are an ensemble of storytellers and industry professionals who will use a rubric to score the films and scripts across several criteria. The producers, Brian Rish and Jocelyn Rish, will make the final decisions based on those scores.

Do you accept international submissions?

Yes! But all non-English language films must have English subtitles, and all screenplays must be in English.

My project is more than 5 years old. Does that matter?

Not at all! There are no restrictions on when the script was written, the film was made or its premiere status, so if you don’t have something new, dust the cobwebs off your scary short and send it our way.

When will you announce the winners?

All winning projects will be announced on April 15, 2018 via this website and our social media.

Since you’re listed on FilmFreeway with other film festivals, is there an actual festival to attend?

No. Although it will be a bummer to not meet y’all in person, we’re keeping everything digital for now. But we are hoping to arrange screenings of the anthology at independent theaters near each of the filmmakers.

Can I enter other competitions?

Please do. We want you to enter any competition that appeals to you.


SHORT FILMS

The $500 prize is great, but is there any other reason I should submit my film?

As short filmmakers ourselves, we know after a film festival run, most short films do not get much exposure. We want to help amazing short horror films get the audience they deserve by grouping them into a feature length anthology that is easier to distribute to traditional markets.

Okay, you’ve convinced me, where should I send the DVD of my film submission?

We are only accepting online screeners. FilmFreeway makes it super easy to upload your project file (up to 10GB) or link your video via Vimeo or YouTube. This way you save on postage, we don’t have to worry about submissions getting lost in the mail, and it’s better for the earth. Click here for our submission page.

My short film is available publicly on YouTube, can I still submit?

Sure, as long as you still own the rights, you can submit even if the film is available anywhere online. 

Can I send in a new/better/shorter/longer/color or sound corrected cut?

No, the judges will be screening films as they come in, so it’s not fair to ask them to watch multiple versions of the same film. All submissions are evaluated equally, so submitting early won’t increase your chances of getting accepted and may hurt your chances if the film’s not ready. Please hold off on submitting your film until it is the absolute best you can make it. If you truly want the newer version in the competition, you can submit it along with another entry fee.

What are the judges looking for?

Story is always king, so an engaging, well-told tale is essential. However, the judges will also score films based on creativity, acting, pacing, cinematography, directing, editing, and sound.

How many films will be selected?

It depends! The completed anthology will have a runtime of approximately 90 minutes. We are accepting short films of up to 30 minutes, so there could be as few as three films in the anthology, but if the best films are super short, there could be many more. Since we are also including a wraparound featuring Madam Josephine, our hostess with the mostest, we don’t plan to select more than ten. But the final number of selected films will depend on the runtimes of the highest scoring films.

If I win, will I still own my short film?

Absolutely. All winners will be required to sign a NON-EXCLUSIVE licensing agreement with our parent company Death Cat Entertainment, LLC. Since the agreement is non-exclusive, you still own the film and can do whatever you want with it, as long as you don't give anyone else exclusive rights during the license period of five years.

How will Grave Intentions be distributed?

At very the least, Grave Intentions will be distributed on DVD and Video-On-Demand (VOD). Additional distribution channels will also be pursued.

When will the Grave Intentions anthology be released?

We're planning a premiere date in October of 2018. Stay tuned to this website and our social media for details!

Do I have to have music rights to my film?

Yes. The filmmaker/submitter must hold all rights, permissions, and releases to the film, including but not limited to music. We will ask for confirmation of clearance of these rights if your film is selected.

Do filmmakers get a cut of proceeds from the anthology?

The $500 prize is to compensate the filmmaker for the licensing of their film, and is likely higher than any split of the proceeds would be. This way you get money up front for your great film, and you don’t have to worry about the film making a profit before you get paid. However, if the anthology takes off, we plan to award the filmmakers bonuses at various profit milestones that will be detailed in the licensing agreement.

My film didn’t get in – can you tell me why?

We can only pick a few, and preferences are very subjective. We’re so sorry we didn’t pick your film, but at this time we do not offer feedback on film submissions.


SCREENPLAYS

The $500 prize is great, but the filmmakers get to be in anthology – so what’s the bonus for writers?

Since we also write short scripts, we know how tough it is to get one made, but we persevered through producing two award-winning short films. If the circumstances are right, we want to utilize our expertise to produce the winning script for the next volume of Grave Intentions.

What do you mean when you say, “Screenplays should be in standard industry format?”

Screenplay formatting adheres to a specific set of standards that make the script more efficient to read and analyze. It’s complex, so you should use screenwriting software that automatically formats for you like Final Draft or Celtx. But for an explanation and example of the formatting, you can click here

Should my script have a title page or be anonymous?

It doesn’t matter – we can easily remove it – so send it however you currently have the PDF formatted.

How should I list co-writers or someone with story credit?

That’s up to you and your collaborators. The $500 will be sent to the person who submitted the screenplay, and it will be up to them to split the money between the contributors.

Do you accept screenplays through snail mail?

We are only accepting submissions through FilmFreeway. They make it super easy to upload a PDF of your script. This way you save on postage, we don’t have to worry about submissions getting lost in the mail, and we save a few trees. Click here for our submission page.

I’ve made revisions to my script – can I send you the updated version?

No, the judges will be reading scripts as they come in, so it’s not fair to ask them to read multiple versions of the same script. All submissions are evaluated equally, so submitting early won’t increase your chances of getting accepted and may hurt your chances if the script’s not ready. Please hold off on submitting your script until it is the absolute best you can make it. If you truly want the newer version in the competition, you can submit it along with another entry fee. 

What are the judges looking for?

Story is always king, so an engaging, well-written tale is essential. However, the judges will also score screenplays based on characterization, pacing, dialog, and originality.

How many scripts will be selected?

Only one script will win the $500 screenplay prize.

What is the projected budget for producing the winning short script?

The best screenplay will win the $500 prize, but there are several factors that will determine whether Death Cat Entertainment moves forward with producing that winning script, including the complexity of the script and what it would cost to film the winning script. Depending on the amount of funding Death Cat Entertainment can secure for the project, we anticipate a budget of approximately $15,000.

Will I receive notes on my script?

We do not offer notes or feedback on scripts at this time.

If I submit, do I still own the rights to my screenplay?

Yes, you still own the rights. It is not required, but we do encourage you to either register your screenplay with the WGA (East or West) or copyright it through the US Copyright Office.

I previously/currently make my living as a screenwriter. Am I still eligible to submit?

Sure!

My script was previously optioned – can I submit it?

As long as the option has expired, so your screenplay is not currently optioned, it is eligible. If during the judging process the script goes under option, we will simply pull it from the competition.

Do you accept adaptations?

No, the script should be your own original material. If you are adapting something you yourself previously wrote, then that is acceptable.

 

All these questions and answers, yet you still didn’t answer mine. :-(

Never fear, just shoot us a message using our Contact Page.

Photo Credit: PresenterMedia.com

Introducing Madam Josephine

What is a horror anthology without a creepy host? Think The Crypt Keeper, Rod Serling, The Hitchhiker, Elvira, and Alfred Hitchcock. So we’re thrilled to introduce you to Madam Josephine, the hostess of Grave Intentions.

Madam Josephine is the Gullah root doctor from our short film High Heels & Hoodoo. She’s seen both the best and the worst of humanity from people who request her hoodoo magic, and she firmly believes you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you deserve.

Joy Vandervort-Cobb is the talented actress and director playing Madam Josephine. Joy is also an Associate Professor of African American Theatre and Performance at the College of Charleston, and you can learn more about her eclectic career here.

Against the backdrop of her eerie hoodoo shop, Madam Josephine will introduce each short film, taking the audience on a journey through the spooky and spectacular. But as Madam Josephine says, “Messin’ with spirits is dangerous business,” so follow her lead or risk becoming lost in the dark.

We're DYING to See Your Stuff!

ALL WINNING FILMS AND THE WINNING SCREENPLAY WILL RECEIVE $500!

Now that we have your attention, here’s the scoop:

We love tales that are creepy and bizarre. Stories that give you chills. Make you shudder and cover your eyes. Cause you to reconsider walking into that dark room.

We love shorts. They are the underappreciated gems of the film world. Bite-sized pieces of entertainment that allow writers and filmmakers to explore their craft in ways features can’t.

As filmmakers, we know that outside of the film festival circuit, most shorts will die a lonely death in the bowels of the interwebs.

So to help amazing shorts get the audience they deserve, we’re combining our two loves to create "Grave Intentions: An Anthology of Chills, Thrills, and Kills."

And your film could be a part of it!

If your short would be at home on The Twilight Zone, Tales From the Crypt, The Outer Limits, or Creep Show, we want to see it.

Basically, we’re looking for anything that broadly fits the horror genre: suspense, thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, psychological thrillers, paranormal, supernatural, horror-comedy, horror-dramas, slasher, mumblegore, monsters, creatures, vampires, zombies, psycho killers, as well as animation that incorporates any of the above.

Our favorite films will be selected for inclusion in "Grave Intentions," a feature length anthology of approximately 90 minutes. And since all great anthologies need their very own Crypt Keeper or Rod Serling, we will film a wraparound where our creepy hostess will introduce each twisted tale.

Depending on the success of the anthology, we also plan to award the filmmakers bonuses at various profit milestones.

So if you want the chance to win at least 500 bucks and have your film shared with audiences around the world, submit to us now!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

Since we’re screenwriters as well, we know how tough it is to get recognition for short screenplays, so we’re also hosting a contest to find great short scripts in this same horror-ish genre.

The best screenplay will get $500, with the potential for Death Cat Entertainment to produce the script into a short film for the next volume of "Grave Intentions."

The screenplay winner will also receive one (1) InkTip Script Listing and one (1) InkTip magazine listing to promote themselves and their scripts to InkTip’s entire network of producers, managers, and agents, which include: ABC, Anonymous Content, APA, CBS Films, HBO Films, ICM, Paradigm, Paramount Pictures, Hallmark Channel, FX, Universal, WME, Echo Lake, Zero Gravity, Bad Robot, 20th Century Fox, and many more. Producers have made more than 315 films from scripts and writers found through InkTip.

So if you have a script that will make us turn on all the lights and check under the bed, submit now for the chance to win 500 smackers and the possibility of seeing your script come to life!