Crash Course: Understanding Horror

Joe Russo
Independent Producer
Sundays 4/26 & 5/3 @ 11:00am - 1:00pm PT

Are you someone who loves to go see horror movies, where you can justify flinging popcorn into the air as you stare in awe and terror at the screen, and thought to yourself, “I want to write something like that”? Well don’t keep thinking that for too long! Take this two week clinic and get that idea fleshed out in record time!

This 2-Week Clinic Will Cover: 

  • What makes a good scare 
  • Why tone is so critical 
  • Where does the fear actually come from 
  • How to establish a compelling protagonist  
  • Feedback on your 1-2 page synopsis
  • Live Q&A!
About Your Host

Award-winning writer/director/producer Joe Russo began his career in production working on commercials, webseries, television, and feature films for companies like Nike, FOX, SyFy, A/E, Lionsgate, and Universal Studios. In 2010, Joe joined Level 1 Entertainment under producer Bill Todman, Jr. (X-MEN, WILD WILD WEST), working his way up to Director of Development, where he managed a slate of feature films and television series, working hand-in-hand with major motion picture studios and television networks such as Fox, MGM, Showtime, SyFy, History, and Amazon. Joe then served as a Development Consultant for Christina Aguilera and Matthew Rutler’s MX Productions, advising the company on their feature film division and their first-look television deal with Lionsgate Entertainment, where they produced the pilot TRACKS for Spike TV.

As a director, Joe’s award-winning short TAKE-OUT appeared in the horror anthology feature DARK, DEADLY, & DREADFUL, released on Amazon. He also directed the Valentine’s Day short BE MINE for Eli Roth and Jason Blum’s Crypt TV and the acclaimed short MIDNIGHT CLEAR, which launched on Entertainment Weekly and was later acquired by Gunpowder & Sky for release on their digital platform, Alter. Joe most recently wrapped production on his feature-length directorial debut THE AU PAIR, an independent thriller which he co-wrote. The movie is scheduled for release in 2020.

As a producer, Shudder recently released Joe's horror anthology feature NIGHTMARE CINEMA, starring Academy Award Nominee Mickey Rourke (THE WRESTLER), featuring segments directed by acclaimed filmmakers like Joe Dante (GREMLINS) and David Slade (AMERICAN GODS). The movie was selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of "2019’s Best Horror Films” and received positive reviews in The LA Times and Variety, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it, “a gore-crazed romp boasting gruesome fun” and Richard Roeper crowning it “the bloodiest, most violent, most gruesome, and most twisted movie I’ve seen this year.”

Joe has several upcoming producing projects in the pipeline with studios like Netflix, MGM, Skydance, and more, including the “HULK HOGAN" biopic starring Chris Hemsworth from Academy Award Nominee Todd Phillips (JOKER) and THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER, a book adaptation being written and directed by Academy Award Winner Peter Farrelly (GREEN BOOK).

Joe has frequently been recognized for his work with writers, developing many acclaimed screenplays over the last several years — including his own — which have been selected by film and television executives for the Young & Hungry List, The Blood List, The Hit List, and The Black List.

What To Expect

Immediately after registering, you will receive an Order Confirmation email that serves as the receipt for your registration. In the Order Summary section of this email you will find a link reading "CLICK HERE FOR INSTRUCTIONS" that will take you to your syllabus, instructions for submitting material (if any), and the link to join the Live Class. Sessions are conducted via video conferencing software ZOOM. You will receive a link to the recording of the session via email following the live session.

Payment Plans

Payment plans are available for most multi-week classes. For 4-week programs, your balance will be due the second week of class. For longer programs, the balance will be broken up into 3 or 4 payments with the final payment due prior to the final week of class. Please note that you are responsible for the full price of the class even if you decide not to complete the program for any reason.

Cancellation Policy

You may cancel for a full refund up to 72 hrs. prior to the start of the class. Cancellations requested after this deadline will be ineligible for refunds.


If you have any questions at all about this class, email our Director of Education Alexandra Davies at!