EXCLUSIVE: Up and coming award-winning filmmaker Silas Howard has been tapped to direct Moonshadow, the forthcoming LGBTQ horror about gay conversion therapy. Gunpowder & Sky and Justin Lin’s digital production company YOMYOMF have partnered for the film along with Ki Jin Kim and Giulia Caruso’s Nonetheless Productions.
Howard is known as a co-executive producer and director on Ryan Murphy’s groundbreaking FX series Pose as well as being the first trans director for Transparent. He also directed the drama A Kid Like Jake starring Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Priyanka Chopra, and Transparent actress Amy Landecker. The film debuted earlier this year at Sundance and was distributed by IFC Films in June.
Moonshadow is written by Ernesto Foronda (Better Luck Tomorrow) and Daniel Foerste. The film was inspired by Foerste’s own experience with LGBTQ conversion therapy and chronicles a transgender teen who is sent to a science-based conversion camp by his family and quickly learns that the youth there are being converted into something less than human. Howard previously collaborated with Foronda on the 2012 dramedy Sunset Stories.
The film comes at a time when gay conversion films are bringing awareness to the disturbing practice. Moonshadow joins the ranks of The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased when it comes to telling different narratives when it comes to the LGBTQ experience. However, Moonshadow will flip the story on its head by making it into a horror. And at a time when representation and authentic storytelling in Hollywood is paramount, Moonshadow, like its peers, puts proper representation behind the camera with Howard as director and Foerste as co-writer of the script, giving the film the LGBTQ gaze it needs — specifically the trans perspective.
“With a battle over transgender rights playing out on the national stage, and as a member and advocate of the trans community, I feel it is critical to be a part of the conversation,” said Howard. “The current generation of young people is living with entirely new expectations about gender and sexuality, and Moonshadow is for them.”
Philip W. Chung, YOMYOMF’s Creative Director added, “What’s compelling about this project is that it works as a purely entertaining horror film that fans of the genre can enjoy on its own terms, while also providing insight into the struggles facing the trans community today. The most interesting horror films share a subversive streak; they use their fictional horrors to comment on the horrors of our real world and with our talented Moonshadow collaborators, we hope to continue that tradition.”
This adds to Gunpowder & Sky’s diverse acquisition slate which pushes the envelope when it comes to genre. They recently acquired the domestic rights to Alex Ross Perry’s ferocious riot grrrl punk epic, Her Smell starring Elisabeth Moss, and partnered with Zelda Williams to adapt her short film, Shrimp into a series. they also acquired Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud starring Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons. Other titles under their banner include The Little Hours and the documentary Betting on Zero.
YOMYOMF (which is an acronym for You Offend Me You Offend My Family) was founded by Justin Lin and is dedicated to telling stories from Asian Pacific American and other underrepresented voices — which makes Moonshadow a perfect fit for them. In 2012, YOMYOMF launched its YOMYOMF Network in conjunction with several Asian American digital influencers as part of YouTube’s Original Channels program. They have produced and are currently developing various digital projects for Disney Channel, Entertainment One, Legendary Pictures, IFC, and others.
In addition to Pose and Transparent, Howard has written and directed numerous shorts and films. His first feature Hook or by Crook, won numerous awards at film festivals including L.A. Outfest and South by Southwest. He also directed the Showtime documentary More Than T, which featured six transgender individuals sharing their unique experiences.