Fun Facts about ScreenCraft's 2020 Comedy Jury

by Ken Miyamoto on March 24, 2020

What are some fun facts about our talented 2020 Comedy Screenplay Competition judges?

If there's one thing that unites audiences worldwide, it's comedy. We all love to laugh. We need it. And the wonderful thing about comedy is that it comes in all different shapes and sizes — romantic, dark, slapstick, parody, or dry.

ScreenCraft is lucky to have an equally wide range of judges for our ScreenCraft 2020 Comedy Jury, each with their own comedic backgrounds and prolific careers while working with some of comedy's greatest talents.

Here we feature some fun and interesting facts from each of our jury members and the companies they work for.

And remember, submissions for the ScreenCraft 2020 Comedy Screenplay Contest are being accepted through our regular deadline of March 31st, 2020 and the final deadline of April 30th. 

  • Quarterfinalists will be announced on June 3rd, 2020
  • Semifinalists will be announced on July 1st, 2020
  • Finalists will be announced on July 29th, 2020
  • Winners will be announced on August 12th

CLICK HERE for more details on this year's competition!

Joseph Garner

Film Producer and Development Executive with WB Production Company Joint Effort

Joseph began his career in the comedy genre working as an Assistant to writer/director Todd Phillips for the comedy hit The Hangover. He would go on to become an Associate Producer for that film’s two successful sequels.

He is now a Development Executive for Joint Effort, a production company run by Todd Phillips and Bradley Cooper.

Phillips, known for comedy, turned away from the genre to write and direct 2019's Oscar-nominated box-office hit Joker.

During the production of The Hangover, Joseph conceived the idea for a unique social experiment while the country was suffering an economic downturn in 2008.

“The country was falling apart around me, people losing their homes, people just out on their own. So I got to thinking: If I lost everything, what would happen? I’d probably be OK because I have great friends and family. But what if I didn’t?” He told ABC News. 

With that idea in mind, along with the budding social interaction of social media and technology, he conceived the idea of a documentary that would follow him over the course of a month of travel across the United States, supporting himself solely by contacting people on Craigslist. For a whole month, Joseph was without any form of currency. He also stipulated that he could not connect with anyone that he already knew, relying only on the “kindness and generosity” of Craigslist users.

With a cameraman following him, and The Hangover comedy legend Zach Galifianakis attached to produce, Joseph created a compelling and inspiring documentary.

Mitchell Hurwitz 

Writer/Producer and Creator of Arrested Development

Mitchell has summed up his love for comedy by saying, “If I had the luxury of choice, and didn’t have to worry about making a living, I would definitely want to get into whatever field it was that allowed me to push further and further comedically. Because that’s the joy of it.”

He is a prolific writer, producer, and actor in the comedy genre. His comedy roots go back to iconic sitcoms like The Golden GirlsThe John Larroquette Show, and The Ellen Show — along with many pilots and mid-season replacement shows.

Mitchell is best known as the creator, writer, and producer behind the critically-acclaimed series Arrested Development. But the concept of the show wasn't born by story or characters. It was first conceived as an experiment in episodic filming technique and structure — by none other than Executive Producer (and iconic Hollywood director) Ron Howard.

At the time, corporate accounting scandals like Enron and Adelphia were in the headlines, so Mitchell was the one to take Ron Howard's experimental episodic technique pitch and marry it to a story about a "riches to rags" family.

Howard and his company immediately signed Mitchell to write the show. When the idea was pitched and sold in the fall of 2002, it surprisingly started a bidding war between Fox and NBC. Fox won.

Judit Maull

Development Executive at Happy Madison Productions

Judit is the Head of Development at Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions and has worked with the company in development since 2000.

The company's name comes from the combination of two of Sandler's comedy hits Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison. The current graphic logo seen before every Happy Madison Productions movie and TV show project also showcases Sandler's late father, Stanley. His voice is also featured, saying, "Terrific."

Happy Madison Productions has been a staple of Sony Studios since 1999 and was created after a string of major Sandler comedy box-office hits (The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy). The company's production office has been located in the Judy Garland Building on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City ever since.

For over twenty years, visitors and employees of the studio have experienced Sandler's warm and welcome presence throughout the lot. Years ago, it was common to see him walking and playing with his late dogs Meatball and Matza in the alleys between stages. He was a familiar face at the Sony Athletic Center, playing pickup basketball games on the former outdoor basketball court just outside of the center (it has since been built over).

Note: Another fun fact. ScreenCraft's own Ken Miyamoto used to play basketball with Sandler and his Happy Madison crew. In 2005, while covering Sandler, Miyamoto collapsed onto the court after completely tearing his ACL. Who helped him off the court, fetched him water, and wouldn't continue playing until he knew Miyamoto was okay? $20 million-per-picture Adam Sandler.

Well before Sandler's success, he and prolific comedy auteur and producer Judd Apatow were roommates sharing a $900 per month apartment in the Valley just outside of Los Angeles. This was before any Sandler movies — or even Saturday Night Live —  when both were working the West Coast stand-up comedy scene.

According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, when Sandler moved to New York after being recruited by Dennis Miller to successfully audition for Saturday Night Live, he continued to pay rent, thinking he was going to "get fired" every week and might have to move back to Los Angeles.

"He just left, like he was going to come back, but he just didn’t come back," Apatow said.

Since those days, Sandler and his Happy Madison Productions crew have been one of the most successful production companies in the comedy genre — with Judit currently leading the way as Head of Development.

Alex McAtee

Creative Executive at Point Grey Pictures

Alex works as the Head of Development and EVP at Point Grey Pictures, the production company created by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. She met the two while working on The Green Hornet as an Assistant Production Coordinator, and later became their full-time assistant when the duo developed their production company in 2011.

She’s been with them ever since, garnering producing credits for films like The InterviewSausage PartyThe Disaster Artist, and Long Shot.

Point Grey Pictures is named after Vancouver's Point Grey Secondary School, where Rogen and Goldberg first met.

They started their writing career after joining the staff of Da Ali G Show for its 2004 season and eventually collaborated on films like Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Funny People, and The Green Hornet under the Point Grey Pictures banner.

To build interest and funding for a unique comedy, Goldberg began to develop a pre-production trailer for Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse. The trailer expanded into a short film written by Jake Stone (who also directed), Goldberg, and Rogen. When they put the short up on YouTube in June 2007, it got over 50,000 hits within the first two weeks.

The project would later be produced as 2013's This Is the End.

CLICK HERE to listen to a podcast featuring Alex McAtee as she discusses her experiences of going from Production Assistant to Producer and Creative Executive for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.  He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies

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