Thursday, August 24, 2017

Get To Know: Horror/Sci-Fi Screenwriter Barbara Marshall


Armed with an endless supply of creativity and persistence, screenwriter Barbara Marshall is a "horror/scifi nut" that has been blending her positive vibes with her results as a storyteller who is making a living doing what she loves. Her latest screenplay, the Hollywood release Wish Upon, is a horror film about a teenage girl who receives music box that grants her most wanted wishes with dire consequences. It has been described as "an enjoyable throwback to ’90s teen-centric horror" by Daily Dead's Heather Wixson who additionally notes that "Barbara Marshall infuses her script with a lot of heart, horror, and even humor, which makes for an entertaining mix." This is evident in Marshall's Blumhouse penned Viral, about the aftermath of a human demolishing outbreak from the perspective of a young woman that has sharp hooks as a quiet, well executed, character-driven piece that even in dialogue, I found squeamish in the best way for a film in its sci-fi/horror category. Barbara Marshall's genuine enthusiasm for writing stories that provide a scare is infectious. 

A bookworm from Austin, Texas, Marshall credits her initial enthrallment with 1980's films such as Aliens, The Dark Crystal and horror's strong emphasis on female heroines as her gateway into appreciating the genre as a creative. She's been writing since she could pick up a pencil; fiction, plays, and later screenplays while in college. Marshall received a BA in Theatre and Dance and a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin and earned an MFA in Film/Video from California Institute of the Arts where she acquired representation in her second year. “My agent calls me her creepy girl," she once told Andrew Barker at Variety where she was named one of the 10 Screenwriters To Watch. "I’m totally healthy, I swear. But a good plague just makes me happy. I like anything with zombies, vampires, apocalypses. That’s my happy zone.” Determined to make a living on her imagination and skill, she entered multiple screenwriting contests with recognition from Slamdance and is a prestigious Black List writer. Marshall took part in NBC's Diversity Program which lead to a few TV gigs like Terra Nova, The Listener, and Stargate Universe.

In the thick of building her resume, Marshall is candid about both the challenges and great opportunities she's been able to experience as a screenwriter in Hollywood. It's been a mixed bag for Marshall and the desire to get her "babies" (scripts) made is what makes the journey worthwhile. "On my latest film, Wish Upon, the director (John Leonetti) was absolutely lovely and I was involved for a significant portion of the process," Marshall expressed while chatting with Anthony King of The Basement. "But I’ve been on the opposite end of the spectrum where the directors have had zero contact with me. NONE. I ended up reading updates about casting and production in the trades. I was completely out of the loop. Kind of a bummer."

After selling a few shows to major networks that didn't quite make it past development, Marshall continues trailing her path in television projects. Expect to see Marshall's remake of The Bad Seed for Lifetime, a sci-fi graphic novel adaptation Cluster, and a novel transfer to screen titled Female of the Species. If that wasn't enough for the busy scribe, her eyes are also set on becoming a novelist as well as a director. "If you have a story, don’t give it to someone else to tell, have faith in your vision. Have faith in yourself. Authenticity matters. Who can tell your story better than you?" is Marshall's ethos and advice. She wants others on a similar journey to know that she's had those familiar insecurities about being a woman and navigating criticism while maintaining a confident outlook on your work. With experience has come much confidence:

"I’m a black woman and I write horror/scifi. Let’s roll!"


More on Ms. Marshall:


Viral is available to stream on Netflix.
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