Every child dreams of being a part of Hollywood magic. For one Pasadena native, this dream became a reality.
Jeff Howard is a writer and producer based in Los Angeles, California. He worked as a supervising producer and writer on the hit Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House.”
A 1987 Northeast High School graduate, Howard knew he wanted to be a writer from a young age.
“I wrote a silly underground magazine when I was in high school,” said Howard. “It was just a lot of fun and a lot of dumb jokes. I have no idea what made me brave enough to hand it out to people.”
This was Howard’s first writing experience. He would print anywhere from 50 to 100 copies of his magazine and distribute them every few weeks.
“It was very strange, but it was fun and the teachers were really encouraging about that,” said Howard. “They gave me like a journalism scholarship that I didn't know was coming when I graduated. They told me it was just because they really appreciated the funny stuff.”
After graduating from Towson University with a degree in history, Howard moved across the country to pursue his dreams of writing for movies and television.
“It was a really long learning curve about writing screenplays,” said Howard of his early years in California. “You have to be pretty good and you have to be persistent and lucky all at the same time. It took a long time. I sold my first script seven years after I graduated college.”
Howard had sold screenplays for a biopic and a few comedies when he met Mike Flanagan.
Another Marylander, Flanagan introduced Howard to horror.
“He is just a horror master,” Howard said of Flanagan. “He was like, ‘Let’s try horror,’ and it turned out to be really good for us and me. And I really like it.”
With the help of Flanagan, Howard dove into horror head on.
“It's very emotional,” said Howard. “They give you a chance to deal with some really weird emotions that you would think you deal with in a drama. With horror, you get to not only do it but have some real fun with it. The more mainstream they are getting, the more they are just movies like everything else.”
The duo has partnered on projects such as “Oculus” in 2013, “Before I Wake” in 2016 and “Gerald’s Game” in 2017. Flanagan is the creator of “The Haunting of Hill House.”
“I love Hill House,” said Howard. “Hill House was the first time I was walking around and heard people talking about something that I had done, which was really strange.”
Though the road was not always easy, and Howard worked as a pastry chef for many years before his career took off, he is living his childhood dream.
“I just always loved movies and television,” said Howard. “Now is like a golden age of television, so to be participating in that is really fun. There's more opportunity and you can do different stuff.”
Howard said he learned quickly that although Los Angeles is often romanticized as a “dream factory,” success comes when you treat it like any other industry town. He credits his Pasadena upbringing for his work ethic.
“The biggest thing that came from Pasadena was just to maintain the blue-collar work ethic of just keeping your head down and don’t let it get big,” said Howard. “I’ve never been able to shake that blue-collar work ethic and I think that’s probably a good thing.”