It’s been a roundabout route for screenwriter and film producer Sherry Klein ’86, who released her first self-produced feature in February. Paradise Cove is a thriller about a couple who are being terrorized by a woman who lives under the Malibu beach house they are renovating.
The film is available on demand from Amazon Prime, Vudu, and elsewhere. “But for the pandemic, it would have been a theatrical release,” Klein said.
Until the self-produced thriller, her career journey included writing for the sci-fi television series Star Trek: Voyager in the late ’90s and another feature film, Asylum Days, in 2001. From her Hamilton days, Klein had a passion for film.
The Scarsdale, N.Y., native majored in Spanish and history. Hamilton had creative writing courses, which Klein enjoyed, but no courses in screenwriting. “I took a film appreciation course with Professor Austin Briggs and kept a detailed journal of every movie we watched,” Klein said, recalling that the professor asked her for permission to use the journal as a teaching tool.
After graduation, she studied law at the University of Miami and worked for several years as an entertainment lawyer. But film remained her passion, and Klein eventually earned a master’s in fine arts in screenwriting from the University of Miami. Her “what-next" moment sprang from advice from her father: “You can’t be a Broadway dancer living in Detroit.” So she packed off to L.A.
“I lived as a landlady from properties I purchased, and continued to write,” Klein said.
Her first writing job was as an assistant writer for Star Trek, and she later worked for the toy manufacturer Mattel Inc. writing animated features. After Mattel, Klein worked as a writer for hire on feature-writing projects for Voyager Media.
Two decades after arriving in L.A., she decided to write and produce her own film, Paradise Cove, to have more creative control.
Why her interest in thrillers? “It’s what people want. It’s what sells,” Klein said. “You can turn off the sound and pretty much tell what’s going on. You can’t do that with a drama.”
Klein believes the best advice for Hamilton students who are interested in making films is to just keep creating. “Nobody can keep you from getting better if you don’t quit. If you want to make movies, write screenplays, self-produce, do it,” she said.
There’s no right way to break into Hollywood or anywhere, she said. “Stop waiting for validation from the powers that be,” Klein added.
She doesn’t wait; she moves forward. Klein is writing another thriller now, and has two already completed. She plans to sell one and produce the other.