ABC's Stephen Schwartz on Ghostbusters, Trainspotting 2 and the Launch of Big Sky

Plus, his love/hate for Lost and twisting the formulas in entertainment marketing

Stephen Schwartz is currently a creative director for ABC Entertainment Marketing.

For the last 15 years, he has been writing, producing, and editing, on both the network and agency side, for the likes of Syfy, Nickelodeon, Definition 6, and Zealot. Stephen enjoys client and vendor life equally but for different reasons.

Some of his notable work includes campaigns for Killing Eve, All Elite Wrestling, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Purge.

We spoke with Stephen for our Backstory series, where we chat with folks in the entertainment industry about their creative inspirations and more.


Stephen, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Born and bred New Yorker by way of Massapequa Park, Long Island. It's the home of Jerry Seinfeld, the Baldwins and Joey Buttafuoco, remember him? For the last decade, I've lived all around Manhattan and Brooklyn but have temporarily posted up in the quiet woods of Randolph, NJ.

Your first job in the industry.

I got my crash course in the world of promos as a production assistant at USA Network.

A breakthrough moment in your career.

Circa 2005, I was an AP at the then Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy). I collaborated with a producer to execute a teaser concept I had for the show Eureka. They loved the idea so much, they handed me the reigns to the entire campaign, which was my first.

Three movies you couldn't do without.

Ghostbusters. My favorite of all time. Find me a movie that more expertly blends every genre into one. It's a blockbuster, comedy, horror, romance, super hero origin story. It just so utterly quotable and rewatchable. I had every toy and the child-sized suit is still lodged somewhere at my parents' house. What kid at that time didn't want to be Peter Venkman?

Jurassic Park. For every dinosaur loving kid, this was it. It's pure spectacle in all the best ways. The logo, the music, the Goldblum. It somehow has better CGI than most movies coming out today. In my opinion, this is only rivaled by T2: Judgement Day as the definitive movie going experience of my generation.

The Thing. Often imitated, never duplicated. Not only the best Carpenter movie but the best horror movie of all time. It's a master class in tension, dread, and practical FX. Plus, Kurt Russell has a sweet beard.

Your favorite movie quote.

"Yes, have some." –Louis Tully from Ghostbusters

Your favorite movie trailer or poster.

When the Wolf Alice song kicks in, the Trainspotting 2 trailer becomes a perfectly executed visual symphony.

A classic TV show and a recent TV show that you loved.

I will forever have a love/hate relationship with Lost. Never before has a show been as simultaneously gripping and frustrating. I've recently really enjoyed Invincible on Amazon and, like many, Ted Lasso. It's that feel good energy we all need right now.

A recent project you're proud of.

Launching Big Sky was a massive undertaking that was also greatly rewarding.

Our amazing team, along with some amazing collaborators like Roger, Wild Card and Zealot, created something that felt dark and edgy for broadcast with very little footage to work from. It was a juggling act of how Twin Peaksy/FX-ish can we get before totally scaring off the core ABC audience.

Spoiler alert, we also had to navigate a potentially divisive major character death right out of the gate. Luckily, the gamble worked and it was the No. 1 most watched new drama. It was also really satisfying to put together a greatest hits album of timeless music for the campaign. It felt like our own personal Guardians of the Galaxy mixtape. Some songs even found their way into the show, which was really cool. We are just gearing up for Season 2 now, so stay tuned!

Big Sky | Sugar
Big Sky | Trailer
Big Sky | Predicament
Someone else's project that you admired recently.

I love everything Tommy Malatesta is doing over at AV Squad. His trailers have become appointment viewing. Hard to pick just one so I will just go with his latest, Lamb.

Buddha Jones is also really crushing it with its horror/thriller work. From the music to the design work to that incredible last frame, the Last Night in Soho trailer totally blew me away. The Antlers trailer accomplished the dream of only using one bite over nearly two minutes. Kudos to them for pulling it off.

One thing about how entertainment marketing is evolving that you're excited about.

The new ways to twist the formula on its head. More and more we are getting the opportunity to take those all-or-nothing swings. Structuring a trailer like never before, making a design choice on key art that used to be frowned upon. Sometimes it feels like inventing a color no one has ever seen yet somehow keep figuring it out at an impressive rate.

What would you be doing if you weren't in entertainment marketing.

Karaoke bar or donut shop owner.

Backstory is a weekly Muse series, publishing on Fridays, where we chat with folks in entertainment marketing about their creative inspirations, favorite movies, video games, trailers, posters and more. To learn more about Backstory or our Clio Entertainment program, please get in touch.

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