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Monkeypaw Productions launches NO DRAMA Initiative powered by TIFF & The Universal Filmmakers Project


Monkeypaw Productions, in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival® (TIFF) and the Universal Filmmakers Project, today announced that entry submissions have opened for NO DRAMA, a new initiative aimed at cultivating breakout filmmakers. Up to six writer-directors will be chosen to create short films with the goal of developing them into full-length projects with Monkeypaw and Universal Pictures.
From the mind of Jordan Peele, NO DRAMA asks filmmakers, “What’s your biggest fear? What monsters lurk in the deepest corners of your inner thoughts?” This reimagined installment of the Universal Filmmaker Project invites filmmakers to produce a project that explores horror across cultures, time, environments and society.

“A good monster story comes from a perspective that’s very personal and very vulnerable. It’s a story that is so deeply personal that you think no one else can relate to it,” said Jordan Peele. “That’s exactly the purpose of NO DRAMA – to challenge filmmakers to turn their deepest fears into fun, thrilling stories that need to be told.”

“Jordan and his team at Monkeypaw are visionary filmmakers who are committed to using their platform to identify and uplift emerging talent across the industry. We are proud to have TIFF join us in supporting Monkeypaw’s No Drama initiative and can’t wait to see the results from its first group of exciting filmmakers,” said Universal Pictures President Peter Cramer.

NO DRAMA is a global initiative that will have digital and physical touchpoints with the Monkeypaw, Universal and TIFF Industry teams. Selected filmmakers will each receive a $50,000 grant to produce their short, exposure to the major studio production process, access to creative and production executives to develop their professional networks, and the opportunity to screen their NO DRAMA projects at TIFF in 2025.

“We’re proud to launch this groundbreaking initiative, NO DRAMA, with our longstanding partner Universal,“ said Cameron Bailey, CEO of TIFF. “Having one of the best storytellers like Jordan Peele and his talented team at Monkeypaw on board, is another step in transforming cinema. By supporting emerging filmmakers in the early phases of their careers, TIFF is dedicated to fostering innovation and pushing the boundaries of storytelling. We’re looking forward to unveiling these short films during our 50th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2025.”

“With Jordan and Monkeypaw as our partners, NO DRAMA and the Universal Filmmakers Project are poised to deliver the access breakthrough filmmaking talent need to thrive in this industry,” said Janine Jones-Clark, Universal’s EVP of Inclusion, Talent & Content. “We’re grateful to have the prestige and commitment from our friends and colleagues at TIFF, who are dedicated to our shared mission of cultivating innovative talent and narratives that drive career momentum.”

The submission window for NO DRAMA is now open and will close on Thursday, February 29th, 2024 at 11:59 EST. Interested filmmakers are encouraged to visit NO DRAMA Filmmaker Project to apply and Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion for additional information on the initiative. 

About Monkeypaw Productions
Over five years, Monkeypaw has grown into a cutting-edge production company with film and television projects that tap into the cultural zeitgeist. Monkeypaw is committed to increasing representation on-screen in the characters that are portrayed, the stories that are told, and the people who tell them with a robust slate of work across multiple platforms. Peele first gained recognition in TV as the co-star and co-creator of the Emmy®-winning Key and Peele. The viral series garnered more than one billion online hits and won a Peabody Award, an American Comedy Award and earned 12 Emmy® Award nominations during its five-season run.

Peele’s first feature film Universal’s Get Out, was released in 2017 to widespread critical praise. The film earned four Academy Award® nominations and won Peele the Oscar® for Best Original Screenplay. In 2019, Peele wrote, produced and directed his second feature, Us, which instantly became a smash hit with audiences and critics alike, posting the largest box-office opening for an original horror movie ever. This July, Peele wrote, produced and directed his highly anticipated third feature, Nope. It is Peele’s third film in a row to open at No. 1 at the North American box office and the biggest domestic opening for an original script since 2019’s Us, Peele’s last film. Monkeypaw, who has an exclusive five-year production partnership with Universal Pictures and with Universal Studio Group, released Candyman, which was directed by Nia DaCosta and co-written by DaCosta, Peele and Monkeypaw President Win Rosenfeld, to No. 1 at the domestic box office, becoming the first movie from a Black female director to achieve this milestone. In addition to critically acclaimed and commercial hits for Universal, including Get Out, Us, Candyman, and Nope, Monkeypaw also acquired and released Honk for Jesus: Save Your Soul and produced BlacKkKlansman for Universal’s specialty label Focus Features.

On the TV side, Monkeypaw produced the Emmy® Award-winning show Key and Peele on Comedy Central; the Tracy Morgan comedy series, The Last O.G. at TBS; and the Emmy®-nominated The Twilight Zone for CBS. Most recently, they released Lovecraft Country on HBO, which was nominated for 18 Emmy® awards, winning two, and won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Horror Series, and BAFTA TV Award nominations. Monkeypaw is currently in production on the second season of the Golden Globe®-nominated Hunters for Amazon.

About TIFF
TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival®in September; TIFF Lightbox, which features five cinemas, learning and entertainment facilities; and the innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $200 million CAD. TIFF Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel, and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation, and RBC. For more information, visit

About Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion
Universal’s long legacy of inclusive narratives and commitment to leading the way on providing access and opportunities for talent inclusive of all backgrounds and lived experiences means they have been able to create stories that resonate with a global audience.

Over the past seven years Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI) department has solidified itself as a premier thought leader. Led by Janine Jones-Clark, Executive Vice President, Inclusion – Talent & Content, this first-of-its-kind department for the feature film industry continues to cultivate programs, initiatives and partnerships dedicated to creating access and opportunities for talent inclusive of all backgrounds and lived experiences, and narratives across the content ecosystem.

Made possible by the leadership of NBCUniversal Studio Group Chairman Donna Langley, the GTDI team is committed to a business-led strategy that ensures access is at the forefront of Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation, Illumination’s culture and content creation, both in front of and behind the camera.

Since 2017 our talent experiences across writing, directing, composing and below-the-line continues to demystify the entertainment industry, tearing down barriers for those up-and-coming creators and artisans seeking career opportunities within the Studio system.

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