CLAY STAFFORD

About

 

Clay Stafford is an internationally distributed author, screenwriter, playwright, producer, director, actor (film, television, stage), showrunner, publisher, songwriter / composer, CEO, educator, speaker, and entrepreneur.

SUMMARY

As a teenager, Clay founded The Clay Stafford Company in 1976 (which later became American Blackguard, Inc. in 2003) with the singular goal of creating solid works of entertainment and education. Since then, Clay has become an international bestselling author and filmmaker with over 3.9 million books sold and work distributed in sixteen languages. Over his multi-decade and multi-faceted career in the publishing and entertainment industries, Clay has been an author, screenwriter, playwright, journalist, editor, book packager, and publisher. In the film and television industry, he has been a film and television executive, director, producer, executive producer, production manager, showrunner, cinematographer, editor, and also served in multiple capacities in early-career studio support. As well as having been a former film/television and primarily live theater actor, Clay has been a singer, dancer, radio personality, and model, and in the music industry, he has been an AM radio Top 10 producer, composer, lyricist, and musician. He has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing / Film Production. He has been a university faculty member and curriculum consultant for higher education, is the founder of the Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference, and is a much-sought-after business consultant and speaker. Because of his personal passion for literacy, education, equality, and freedom of the press, Clay has served on multiple local and national boards. He has overseen, through his own companies, past donations annually of over $40,000 in books and funds to help numerous libraries, schools, environmental victims, educational missions, preservationist causes, minority communities, and military personnel. Mentors, passion, family, and the grace of God have allowed Clay to adventure from being the grandson of a rural, Appalachian bootlegger to a life behind-the-scenes with some of Hollywood and publishing’s biggest names and legends. In fall 2019, Clay was named a PW Star Watch Honoree by Publishers Weekly, Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair), and the American Booksellers Association as one of the Top Fifty “accomplished up-and-comers in the U.S. and Canadian publishing communities.”

AUTHOR / SCREENWRITER / PUBLISHER / EDITOR / BOOK PACKAGER / PLAYWRIGHT / JOURNALIST

“Stafford has no shortage of material . . . Ever the Renaissance man.”
The Atlanta Journal / The Atlanta Constitution

Clay Stafford began his entrepreneurial writing métier by making a whopping $6 off a short story he wrote when he was ten for the school newspaper, a publication which he also co-founded. Armed with an 8mm camera and rolls of B&W film, he began to churn out edited films reminiscent of The Great Train Robbery (1903). Within three years, he was writing, producing, and directing one-act plays for local theaters. At fourteen, he founded a professional film production company – a boy, a camera, and a notebook – writing and producing commercials and radio spots for local businesses. As a now award-winning author, screenwriter, TV series creator, and head writer, Clay Stafford’s media and literary work has expanded to sixteen languages and his clients have included ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, numerous independent production companies, and Esquire Magazine, to name a few, and his short stories, essays, and poems are published periodically in national literary journals. As a playwright, he has had four of his latter plays premier in Los Angeles. As a journalist and columnist, he has worked freelance for Gannett and Ochs-Sulzberger newspapers, and Killer Nashville Magazine. His books and tapes on the entertainment business have been offered at notable “media” bookstores including Oxfords, Borders, Samuel French, Larry Edmunds, and others, and have been used as teaching tools at several major universities. He has critiqued books, plays, and films for a domestic and worldwide print and media audience (examples include BookPage, CitySearch, Killer Nashville, and Killer Nashville Magazine), where he conducted interviews with authors and filmmakers about their works. Major publishers such as Harcourt Brace and Gallery Books have used his influence on book jackets as a part of their international promotion. As a literary executive, he has edited several books and companion guides for PBS to accompany national TV series, and has been Editor-in-Chief, Publisher, and Book Packager for PBS Miami, American Blackguard Entertainment, and Clay Stafford Books. His novel retellings for children for Dalmatian Press have sold an estimated 3.9 million copies and have been translated into several languages (the books even made a guest appearance on the bookshelf behind actress Diane Lane in the feature film Must Love Dogs.) In 2018, Clay founded the literary imprint Clay Stafford Books to promote new books by authors other than himself. Sony Pictures Television optioned his TV series, Richland Heights. His latest screenplay was Pork Pie Hat, based upon an optioned novel by Peter Straub. His documentary feature film One of the Miracles: The Inge Meyring Smith Story received rave reviews from film festivals and critics alike. His current literary anthology is Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded from Diversion Books. His has written under the pseudonyms Roberta Bendell, John Mariani (travel editor of Esquire Magazine), the Russian author Yalc Droffats, and others. He maintains his professional membership with national writers’ organizations including The Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and more. He is presently writing a forthcoming crime thriller series, a literary mystery set in the American South, and scribbling notes for several nonfiction books.

MAJOR STUDIO / EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE

“It is difficult to imagine an individual better suited to be a working member of the entertainment community.”
— Liz Ramirez, Universal Studios / Hanna-Barbera Studios

In his early years, Clay Stafford worked behind-the-scenes for PBS, Universal Studios, and MCA Records in the departments of development, production, publishing, packaging, distribution, accounting, casting, legal, personnel, publicity / advertising, transportation, and union relations. He started his executive climb in the mailroom of Universal Studios, worked his way up and was offered a production and development executive position with Universal Studios before landing at PBS and then his current CEO position at American Blackguard Entertainment (previously The Clay Stafford Company, which he formed in 1976). He has produced productions for all three traditional networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and PBS. His studio support experience comprises both Emmy and Academy Award-winning productions including the movies Back to the Future, Hannah and Her Sisters, Legal Eagles, Mask, The Money Pit, Out of Africa, Psycho III, Weird Science, and the television series Airwolf, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Amazing Stories, Dynasty, The Equalizer, Knight Rider, MacGyver, Magnum, P.I., Miami Vice, Murder, She Wrote, Simon & Simon, among others. Clay is currently President / CEO of American Blackguard Entertainment where he has overseen and developed projects and/or publicity activities involving such literary giants as Stephen King, Jeffery Deaver, and Peter Straub, and has been a consultant to the Tennessee State Film Commission and the Tennessee State House and Senate on the entertainment business involving financial incentives for companies filming in Tennessee. Because of his championship of writers and his influence in the literary world, Publishers Weekly recognized Clay Stafford as playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” throughout “the nation’s book culture.”

PRODUCER / EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / SHOWRUNNER / PRODUCTION MANAGER

“An excellent member of any production team.”
— John Whitesell, Senior Vice-President, Warner Bros. International Television Distribution

Taking law courses at the University of Miami, working his way up the management track at Universal Studios, and getting first-hand-in-the-field experience as a production manager has given Clay Stafford a distinct advantage as a producer, executive producer, and showrunner. Clay Stafford has produced, line produced, and been a production manager on over 90 stage, film, and TV award-winning productions including the nationally acclaimed TV talk show Proud to Be Me, several national how-to TV series, documentaries, special events, music videos, commercials, and dramas for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and several independent production companies. As Assistant Director of Program Development for PBS in Miami, he was responsible for the creation, development, packaging, production, and marketing of PBS local, national, and straight-to-video PBS programming. His most recent live stage events include the annual packaging of the Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference and his most recent media work is as producer, executive producer, director, and writer for the documentary film One of the Miracles: The Inge Meyring Smith Story.

DIRECTOR / FILMMAKER

“A great source of advice and information, a tremendous addition to your team.”
— Cynthia Payo, Hollywood Pictures / Walt Disney Motion Picture Group

Like many child filmmakers, Clay Stafford began shooting 8mm edited scenes around the age of ten, but he really learned the art of editing (and directing) while working at Universal Studios, mentored off-the-clock by professional 35mm editors within the Universal Television family. An award-winning director of screen and stage, and a technical director for live television, Clay Stafford’s over 50 directing credits include such a diverse mix as the PBS TV drama Michael, the national PBS documentary Patterns of Power, and the A Little Night Murder staged mystery series. Like most young filmmakers, Clay wanted to “do it all” in his early days (forced by budget and an irrepressible auteur mentality), and, as a result, has served as cinematographer, cameraman, casting director, sound editor, composer, and production designer on many of his productions. In studio support, he got to see auteurs at work through creative innovators such as Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen, both of whom he was honored to work under through Universal. Clay’s media directing experience includes both film and tape, single- and multi-camera shoots, and multi-camera live broadcasts. He has served as a production and post-production consultant for the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger and the feature film Bad Girls and has seen his work on TV, on videocassette (then DVD, then streaming), and in theaters in the United States, and on foreign TV and DVD abroad. As a photographer, he has done publicity photos for such personalities as Jane Seymore, Dale Evans, Roy Rogers, and for organizations such as USAir and Smith & Wesson.

ACTOR / MODEL / SINGER / DANCER

“The fun and excitement never stop.”
— Paul Ryan, KNBC-TV, Los Angeles

An award-winning actor, Clay Stafford has created over 90 roles on stage, film, and TV including Two on the Town (CBS), Clue: Movies, Murder, and Mystery with Martin Mull (Paramount Television), and Days of Our Lives (NBC), and leads in touring and regional theater productions such as Androcles and the Lion, Lonestar, and The Lion in Winter, in addition to his high school experience as a radio D.J., a college voice-over artist, and an early reader for audio books. As an “actor who danced,” Clay had the wonderful opportunity to study with renown instructors at the Dance-Theatre Workshop, the Martha Graham Studio, with Luigi (Eugene Louis Faccuito), ballet instructor Fiona Fairrie, and New York choreographer Frank Pietri (of A Chorus Line fame). As a model, Clay appeared in promotional ads for national companies such as Service Merchandise, Saturn, Opryland Hotel, and American National Bank. As an “actor who sings,” he appeared in operas such as Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro under the tutorage of David Pennebaker and David Aiken, as well as in leading roles in such touring musicals such as The Fantasticks (El Gallo) and The King and I (The King). Productions in which Clay appeared have been sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts, The Lyndhurst Foundation, the National Opera Institute, the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Allied Arts Fund, among others.

COMPOSER / MUSIC PRODUCER / MUSICIAN

“Clay is invaluable on any production. His knowledge of music and his ability to communicate well with other people are great assets.”
— Kitty Morgan, President, Malabar Productions

As a composer, arranger, songwriter, music producer, and performer (piano and vocals), Clay Stafford has written songs, composed scores, and/or produced soundtracks for several film and television productions including the PBS drama Michael (producer) and the theme song for the Republic Pictures pilot Tag It! (composer / arranger / musician). A music composition and arrangement major in college (specializing in orchestral scores), he has also been a singer / musician with two Top 40 bands, a performer in such operas / musicals as Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, The Fantasticks, and The King and I, and an orchestral celesta musician. Early in his career, Clay served as a music supervisor and sound editor on several independent low-budget films. His most recent music project as a songwriter is with fellow thriller author Jeffery Deaver (The Bone Collector) where Clay served as co-music producer, co-music composer, and co-arranger for Jeff’s lyrics on their compilation CD XO, which produced a Top 10 single (Near the Silver Mine) in numerous regional AM radio markets. He also produced the soundtrack to the documentary One of the Miracles, a collection of symphonic original orchestrations highlighting different periods of American history from the 1930s to the present. Through American Blackguard Entertainment, Clay heads American Blackguard Records and the music publishing company American Blackguard Music.

UNIVERSITY EDUCATOR / PRIVATE CONSULTANT

“Delivered more than was expected.”
— Kandell Bentley-Baker, Director of Planning and Development School of Film and Video, Miami-Dade University

Clay Stafford has a B.A. and M.F.A. and has been a professor or guest lecturer at several universities, including the University of Miami and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. During one of his engagements as an academic consultant, he co-designed Florida’s official two-year university film program at Miami-Dade University, which is currently being used to train technical and creative personnel for independent production companies and major Orlando film studios, including Disney and Universal. Individual clients have used Clay’s consulting advice to secure opportunities on the New York stage, with major networks nationwide, and on such feature films as Mighty Joe Young. His early books and tapes on the entertainment business have been offered at notable “media” bookstores including Samuel French, Larry Edmunds, Oxfords, and Borders, and have been used as teaching tools at several major universities. In 2006, he founded and continues to produce the literary mystery, thriller, and suspense organization Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference, an annual international gathering of National Book, Pulitzer, Agatha, Anthony, Barry, Bram Stoker, Claymore, Edgar, Gumshoe, International Horror Guild, John Seigenthaler Legends, Macavity, PEN / O. Henry / Malamud / Faulkner, Pushcart, RITA, Shamus, Silver Falchion, Thriller, World Fantasy award-winners, bestselling authors, forensic and marketing experts, and writers just beginning their careers.

CORPORATE & ORGANIZATIONAL SPEAKER

“We are proud to have had you on the Army Team.”
— Gary L. Anderson, Directorate of Logistics U.S. Department of Defense

As a guest speaker and award-winning lecturer for national organizations, associations, and academic institutions, Clay Stafford’s seminars on creativity, achievement, business, communication, literature, and film—as well as his presentations as a master of ceremony—have been delivered live onstage to a total of more than 1 million people. A past member of the National Speakers’ Association and Toastmasters International, Clay’s organizational, corporate, publishing, educational, and entertainment clients have included such diverse groups as the U.S. Department of Defense, the Miami-International Press Club, the Financial Executives Institute, Belmont University, South Dakota Festival of Books, Southern Festival of Books, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), and the Chongqing Acrobats of China, among many more.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

An active member of the literary community, Clay was formally Chairman of the Board for The Council for the Written Word (which he founded) and the Williamson County Arts Council, president for several years of the Southeast Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA), and has served on such national or regional boards as Mystery Writers of America, Nashville Adult Literacy Council, and Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. For years, through his companies, Clay has overseen donations annually of over $40,000 to help numerous libraries, schools, environmental victims, educational missions, preservationist causes, minority communities, and military personnel.

EDUCATION

M.F.A., University of Miami, 1992. Majors: Creative Writing / Film Production

B.A., Union Institute & University, 1989. Major: Film & Television / Double Minors: Acting / Music Composition & Arrangement

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 1980-1982. Double Majors: Theater (Acting) / Music Composition & Arrangement

Freed-Hardeman University, 1979-1980, Undeclared Major

Honors included: Valedictorian Scholar / Chancellor’s Scholar / Paul Koblentz Memorial Scholarship / Mortar Board Scholar / Dean’s Honor Student / Graduate Teaching Assistant

AWARDS / HONORS

International Bestselling Author (3.9 million+ books sold / available in 16 languages)

Amazon Bestseller

The Writer: The Best Writing Conferences in the USA (multiple years), #1 U.S. voted writers’ conference 2020 (Clay Stafford, founder/producer Killer Nashville)

PW Star Watch Honoree (Publishers Weekly, Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair), American Booksellers Association) 2019

Award of Excellence Winner – Film Advisory Board

Silver Honors Winner – Parents’ Choice Award

Aurora Awards Winner

Davey Award Winner -Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts

Children’s Video Magazine Four-Stars Winner

National Indie Excellence Award Finalist

John Kremer Prize – USA Regional Excellence Book Awards

REBA Award Winner / Anthology Category – USA Regional Excellence Book Awards

Sponsor’s Choice Award Winner – USA Regional Excellence Book Awards

Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist

Beverly Hills Book Awards Finalist

Best Book Awards Winner – American Book Fest

SIBA Okra Pick – Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

American Council on Aging Poetry Contest Winner

Certificate of Recognition Annual National Mass Media Awards – National Conference of Christians and Jews

Utopia Film Festival Selection

PAST & PRESENT MEMBERSHIPS / AFFILIATIONS

Authors Guild / Authors League of America

International Thriller Writers (ITW)

Mystery Writers of America (MWA – former board of directors)

Sisters in Crime

Southeast Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA – former president)

Middle Tennessee Chapter Sisters in Crime

Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

Kentucky Colonel / The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)

Miami International Press Club

Inspirational Country Music Association (ICMA)

Tennessee Master Gardener Alumni

FilmNashville

Tennessee Writers Alliance

Country Music Association (CMA)

Tennessee Screenwriters Association (TSA)

Williamson County Chamber of Commerce

Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)

Toastmasters International

National Speakers Association (NSA)

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film (former board of directors)

Nashville Adult Literacy Council (former board of directors)

Franklin Citizens Police Academy Alumni

FBI Citizens Academy Alumni

University of Miami (FL) Alumni

The Union Institute / UECU (OH) Alumni

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Alumni

Freed-Hardeman University Alumni

Council for the Written Word (former chairman / former board of directors)

Mortar Board Society (National Honor Society)