︎ WORK / s
02. BIO


Photo by Max Zerrahn for Suhrkamp Magazine

Tracy Kopulsky, Manager

Ryan Lucas and Rachel Viola, Theater
Luke Murphy, TV
Amanda Smith, Film

Anna-Katharina Müller, Editor

Sam Max (b. 1995, Western Pennsylvania) is a writer and director working in film and performance. They are known for creating “poetic spaces where death and dreams converge, making otherworldly encounters possible” (Suhrkamp Verlag). Their “seductive and unnerving” work (Filmmaker Magazine) frequently references and perverts genre expectations in horror, thriller, and noir. They also draw visual inspiration from the Rust Belt, where they were raised.

Recently, Sam is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” the winner of the 2022 Horizon Award (24fps), a recipient of the 2021 Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences, a nominee for the 2022 Iris Prize in Filmmaking, a resident playwright of New Dramatists (2021-2029), and a recent acquisition of Suhrkamp Theater Verlag in Berlin, where their written work is published in translation. In 2018 they were named to the Young & Hungry List tracking Hollywood’s Top 100 New Writers.

Their first film, CHAPERONE (2021) premiered at Sundance Film Festival competing for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize. The film was named one of IndieWire’s “10 Must-See Shorts” of the festival, and was deemed a “formally assured and chillingly acted” highlight of the 2022 programming (Filmmaker Magazine). Additional highlights: Shortlist for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, Palm Springs (Jury Special Mention, Best U.S. Short), Turin Horror (Jury Special Mention, Best Short), Overlook, Fantasia, Brooklyn Horror (Best Cinematography), Philadelphia (Honorable Mention, Best Screenplay), NewFest, and Inside Out. Their second short film TICKS (2022) was commissioned by Hulu and stars Brigette Lundy-Paine, Massima Bell, and Erin Markey. Sam is  currently developing their first feature. 

As a playwright, stage director, and performance artist, Sam’s work includes PIDOR AND THE WOLF (Chesley Bumbalo Playwriting Award, Finalist/O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Honorable Mention/The Relentless Award), TWIN SIZE BEDS (Under the Radar Festival, Museum of Sex, Joe’s Pub), COOP (Paradise Factory Theater, Theatertreffen-Stückemarkt Berlin, Goethe-Institut Beijing, One-Way Street Journal Beijing, Premiere: ETA Hoffmann Theater), and THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG (Abrons Arts Center). Upcoming: trans girl suicide museum, and a new untitled commission for Deutsches Theater Berlin’s ensemble, in 2024. 

In various creative production roles they have also contributed to the performance work of Erin Markey, Dane Terry, Esperanza Spalding, Grace McLean, Francesca D’Uva, Amy León, Ripe Time/Rachel Dickstein, Phantom Limb, and more. In addition, Sam is a founding member of the performance collective I AM A SLOW TIDE, as well as the Director of Lab Programs at The Orchard Project, a 14-year-old nonprofit dedicated to dramaturgical development of projects in Performance, Episodic, and Audio. There, they Co-Directed the OP’s inaugural Adaptation Lab, and have served an instrumental role in transitioning the organization to a community-minded curatorial process, and toward the revival of physical residencies for artists, post-quarantine. 

Sam has developed their work as a member of the María Irene Fornés Institute Writers Workshop, The Public’s Devised Theater Working Group, and Pipeline Theatre Company’s PlayLab Writers Group. They have also received residencies and support from The Mercury Store, The Workshop, The Mastheads, National Sawdust, the Hermitage Artists Retreat, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. 

Sam is a graduate of the University of Evansville’s Theatre program (2017), holding a degree in Theatre Performance and a minor in Social Ethics/Philosophy, summa cum laude


+++ art writing and criticism +++
︎︎︎ 12.23.22 “Between Dreaming and Real in Des Moines / Culturebot
︎︎︎ 11.30.22 “Performing Precarity: Young Boy Dancing Group at Pageant” / Culturebot

+++ own me +++
︎︎︎ Coop by Sam Max (Mandarin trans. by CHEN S’ian) in One-Way Street Journal “Contemporary Plays: Everything Stops Today”

︎ IG