Michael Klug grew up in beautiful Lead/Deadwood, South Dakota, smack-dab in the middle of the glorious Black Hills... just a hop, skip and a jump from Mt. Rushmore. Today he's a screenwriter, actor, filmmaker, script consultant and film critic.
His first acting role (in third grade) came about when Missoula Children's Theatre arrived in town. He was a "Candlestick" in Pinnochio, and then a year later, a munchkin in another Missoula production -- The Wizard of Oz.
He began his writing career with his first short story "House of the Dead" at the tender age of 10. In eighth grade he co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed (as well as starred as "Freddy") in a stage play entitled A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Tribute, with his best friend Eric.
Many acting roles in high school followed, including a senior year performance as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. He won 3 Best Actor honors; and a "Most Dedicated" Drama Club award while there. Michael and Eric also dabbled in filmmaking at this time, creating many innovative, no-budget horror shorts.
In high school, his writing continued (mostly horror fare), including poetry, short stories, A Nightmare on Elm Street fan fiction and an entertaining series of stories called "George, Frank & Liza", which is currently on the back burner for a screenplay translation.
He studied theatre in college at Minnesota State University; Moorhead (earning his BA), focusing his studies on acting and directing. While there, he was nominated 3 times for the prestigious Irene Ryan / American College Theatre Festival scholarship award; for his acting work in Galileo, Picnic and As You Like It. His nomination as Touchstone in As You Like It led him to a regional win, and onto the Kennedy Center, representing the 8-state Region 5; where he competed against only 12 other undergrads and graduate students from across the US. His favorite roles in college include the title role in Tartuffe, Horst in Bent, Mary Sunshine in Chicago, Hennessey/The Captain in Dames at Sea and The Writer in The Good Doctor.
His writing was also still moving along admirably during his college days -- including a play-writing course (where his one act, Sin was completed), and a creative writing course where many more poems and short stories found the light of day. Following two summers of stock with the Straw Hat Players (MSUM's summer theatre), he graduated and headed off into the real world.
His return home to South Dakota led to some substitute teaching, a bit of radio DJ-ing and work as an assistant director for a production of Harvey at his high school alma mater.
He then found work with The National Theatre for Children/Small Change; a touring children's theatre out of Minneapolis. He was "Louie the Lightning Bug" for 5 months -- all through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana -- entertaining and teaching kids about electric safety.
A subsequent move to Minneapolis found him on-stage opposite Sarah Jane Olson in a production of the apartheid drama, A Fair Country -- just a short time before her discovery and subsequent arrest by the FBI.
A move to Chicago found a great working relationship with The Griffin Theatre, appearing in over a half dozen of their productions; including the world premieres of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Stardust and Sleeping Ugly: The Musical. There was additional stage work with the Chicago Park District, Hi-Volt Theatre and The Raven Theatre.
He also appeared in several short films and two features during his ten year stay in Chicago. Acting in film inspired him to push forward on his own first screenplays. His first feature-length spec was a zombie film called Sid's Apple (currently being developed as a limited television series).
In addition, his work (both in front of and behind the camera -- officially billed as "Assistant to the DP") on the feature HOUSE OF BLACK WINGS (from Chicago's Sword & Cloak Productions), inspired him to write and direct his first two short films; under the newly formed not my mess films. FRENCH TOAST (the first film) is complete. The second piece -- READY TO GO -- was sadly never completed.
Michael relocated to Hollywood, California in 2008, ushering in a particularly fruitful time creatively.
In between several "survival/day jobs", he worked as an assistant director on a web-series as well as a short film and held several other crew positions on various indie projects.
On the writing front, screenwriting has taken center stage in his creative endeavors. Over the past decade, he's received 44 accolades from a wide variety of film festivals and script competitions. In April of 2019, he completed work on his 10th feature spec script, Mom Died. That script was named the WINNER in the Horror Genre at the 2019 Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices competition. And in 2020, Michael partnered with award-winning filmmaker Audrey Cummings to further develop Mom Died for potential production. His next highest contest placement came via the 2016 Screamfest Film Festival, where his feature spec Spider Eaters placed in the Top Five Finalists.
Finding completion in 2018, the first in (hopefully) several steps for a yet-to-be-announced "write-for-hire" screenwriting project (as a direct result of that Top Five Screamfest placement for Spider Eaters). And in mid-2019, he was hired by a production company to pen a feature length script. That contract is complete, and he excitedly awaits potential news of the film's production.
In addition to these feature scripts, he's also completed a one-hour pilot drama spec and many short spec scripts.
In a 2016 return to the live stage, Michael booked a month long gig with The Roxy Regional Theatre in Clarksville, Tennessee -- appearing in the World Premiere adaptation of The Magnificent Ambersons, as well as taking on the role of Gremio in a production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. This theatre experience was the inspiration for his 8th feature spec script, The Costume People, which was optioned (although not ultimately purchased) in 2018.
Following his Roxy contract, he returned to LA and began auditioning for new roles. By the end of 2016, he had appeared as a defendant on the syndicated television court show "Justice for All with Judge Cristina Perez", and acted in three short films.
In 2018, he played a lead role in Monte Light's feature film debut, Space, which was released in March of 2020, via Random Media.
Following his first physically published piece in 2014's Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks (his essay covered the Nazi zombie classic, Shock Waves), he landed a gig as a film critic and contributing writer for the now defunct online horror source Horror Freak News -- reviewing films, covering red carpet events, conducting interviews, doing set visits and attending film festivals. During this journalism adventure, he clocked in close to 400 movie reviews and feature articles. In late 2018 (after four years of writing reviews), Michael "soft retired" from journalism/film criticism, to focus more fully on screenwriting. He briefly returned to Horror Freak News in the fall of 2019 to cover Screamfest for his sixth consecutive year. And he still occasionally pens a review for Tom Holland's Terror Time. On that note, he wrote his first ever book review for Tom Holland's Terror Time, covering the 2020 release of The Living Dead.
In 2018, his second physically published piece -- an essay on George A. Romero's Day of the Dead, was released as part of the collection, My Favorite Horror Movie from editor Christian Ackerman. Michael's write-up sat alongside essays from such horror-industry luminaries as Michael Gingold, Tony Timpone and Cerina Vincent.
In June of 2019, Michael launched Klugula Screenplay Consulting, offering feature and short screenplay story and editing services to screenwriters.
While 2020 was a challenging year (to say the least), it saw what was possibly Michael's most productive creative year. He completed work on his 11th (Rope-A-Dope -- with Motown Maurice), 12th (Trip) and 13th (Boys) feature spec scripts. Both Trip and Boys have already begun their festival journeys, with Trip finding placement in 6 festivals (thus far) and Boys in 2 (thus far).
On the topic of Boys, Michael made the choice in late 2020, to make this piece his feature film debut, as both director and producer. While all is quite preliminary as 2023 gets underway, some wheels are already in motion.
In 2020, he also began a web-series entitled Klugula Reads His Klassics, where he shares selections from his 35-year writing history - poetry and short stories all the way back from age 10. He was also hired for two feature screenplay gigs in late 2020. Both of those projects will continue into 2021.
On the acting front in this crazy year that was, Michael was part of multiple virtual readings, including a benefit production of Our Town, opposite such name actors as Amy Brenneman, Annie Potts and Joshua Leonard. In addition, Michael also acted virtually for several short films, including Isolation / Ship from director Monte Light.
In 2020, he began the arduous task of taking over 35 years worth of short stories, poetry, journal entries and the like -- organizing and typing them up, with the intention to eventually self-publish this collection under the title, The House Up the Street. This is an ongoing process...
Early 2021, Michael was cast in the indie feature Blood Covered Chocolate, from filmmaker Monte Light. Michael was a last minute replacement, and thus had just under a week to prep for the film's lead role of Massimo, who appears on virtually every page of the 90-page script. The film was shot in two weeks, and at press (December 2022), it is playing the festival circuit and has already won multiple awards. It has also garnered distribution (although not yet officially announced).
Mid-2021, inspired by and following the death of his mother, Michael embarked on a life-long bucket list, creative endeavor -- his first novel. At press, What the House Saw has three completed drafts, and is expected to find completion, and begin the search for a publisher, in 2023. In addition, in the summer of 2021, Michael partnered up with actor/writer Daniel Alexander, and completed a feature spec script (Michael's 14th), a small town, trans-female drama entitled, Mariposa.
In April of 2022, Michael completed work on his 15th feature spec script, A Stench in the Nostrils of God. It was named a semi-finalist at 2022's Screamfest. Plans are underway for a short film version/proof-of-concept for the piece, in 2023.
A hired screenwriting project in 2020 came to fruition in the summer of 2022, when the Hank Braxtan film Dead Zone (starring Michael Jai White and Jeff Fahey) was released as a Tubi Original. Michael is credited as one of the writers on the film.
Michael joined forces with the We Make Movies Int'l Film Festival in late 2022, and is helping them to develop a screenwriting competition for their upcoming fifth season. He's previously judged for the festival as well.
Also in 2022, he began work on two spec script collaborations -- with Alex Carl on a yet-unnamed project and with long-time friend Libby Baker, on a horror/thriller entitled Unrequited Love is for the Birds. As 2022 comes to a close, Michael has several solo spec scripts in various stages of development: Bear, Moist, My Brother the Serial Killer, Pactola, Calamity and The Build. He is also planning to pick up two other novels (begun several years ago) and re-engage with them in 2023: Island Hunters and Scratcher.
-- updated 12/14/2022