There is a Blacklist in Hollywood. One that has nothing to do with American political history or the current NBC drama starring James Spader. Every year studio executive Franklin Leonard releases a list of the “best liked” unproduced screenplays selected by a survey of fellow execs. The survey began in 2005, and as a 2011 article in the LA Times noted, “Just getting a script on the roster has helped some fledgling screenwriters.”
Getting enough votes to appear on the list isn’t guarantee a quality movie. Some titles on the Black List can turn out to be pretty good. You may have heard of The Imitation Game, which made the 2011 list and won some major movie awards. Others (Red Riding Hood, from the 2009 list) not so much.
A recent variation on The Black List is the “Blood List” featuring “dark genre” subjects including Horror and thrillers, along with dramas, fantasy films and comedies with a darker focus.
Kailey Marsh, a literary manager and producer and CEO of Kailey Marsh Media, started the list in 2009. Titles from previous years range from the high “art house” end of the spectrum — Black Swan (2009) and Stoker (2010) — to more traditional genre fare like The House At The End of the Street (2009) or Kiss Before the Slaughter (2010).
Now television pilot featured on the 2015 list has cast its two leads its way to SyFy’s lineup of original programming. Dave Howe, president of Syfy, described Blood Drive as a “highly stylized roller coaster ride … a throwback to 1970s grindhouse cinema” In a near-future, close to the apocalypse Los Angleles, Alan Ritchson is Arthur Bailey, a policeman turned private investigator forced to participate in the Blood Drive, described as “an underground death race in which the cars run on human blood.”
Richson recently appeared in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as District One “career tribute” Gloss and on the small screen playing Smallville‘s Aquaman. His most recent big screen genre credit is as crime fighting turtle Raphael in the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, released this year.
Joining Ritchson is Spanish actress Christina Ochoa as Grace, a desperate woman participating in the race to save her family with the potential winnings. Ochoa will be recurring on the upcoming TNT drama Animal Kingdom, and appeared in the recent El Rey network soccer drama Matador
Blood Drive features behind the camera genre veterans John Hlavin (Underworld: Awakening) and David Straiton (Bates Motel, Hemlock Grove) as Executive Producers, with Mark Wheeler and Frederik Malmberg (Let Me In) as Producers.
Blood Drive, with a premise that hearkens back to the Corman classic Death Race 2000 and a solid roster of talent in front and behind the scenes, sounds like an interesting addition to the Syfy lineup. Syfy has been on a roll recently in terms of adding original programming of the non-Sharknado variety. The network has been adding original scripted programming from across the Science Fiction and Horror genres. From the Weird Wild West of Wynonna Earp, the hard-scifi Space Opera of The Expanse, now embracing the often disparaged Grindhouse horror subgenre, Syfy may be living up to their “Imagine Greater” slogan after all.