It’s almost Halloween, and genre producer Steven Schneider has a movie in theaters and VOD, The Houses October Built. It’s an ultra-low budget horror film, as was another scary movie that put Schneider on the map in Hollywood in the fall of 2009.
Paranormal Activity was about a couple who found that they had unwanted company in their new house. It’s part of Hollywood lore that director Oren Peli shot the film in seven days with unknown actors for a mere $15,000.
The movie changed the world for Steven Schneider, who teamed with producer Jason Blum to release the film through Paramount. Paranormal exploded at the box office, grossing more than $190 million around the world.
For Jason Blum, the film opened the door to continued success. He launched Blumhouse Productions and made low-cost hits including Insidious and The Purge.
Schneider did not do nearly as well. While Paranormal soared, he sank to a dark place, doing drugs and destroying important business relationships.
It was an unhappy outcome for a story that began when Paranormal Activity first landed on Schneider’s desk. He wasn’t some seasoned producer, rather, he’d been teaching film theory and picking up degrees at places like NYU and Harvard.
Schneider tells Kim Masters how he went from Harvard to Hollywood and the battles he faced once he got there, and the reflecting he’s done since. He also talks about how his latest project The Houses October Built, a micro-budget Halloween-themed horror movie about a group of friends exploring extreme haunted houses, manages to be a mash-up of a documentary and a narrative feature with a little found footage thrown in.