Lizz Marshall is an award-winning writer-director who received her B.A. in Film and Television Production at the University of Southern California. In 2018, Lizz was awarded the inaugural Stephanie Rothman Fellowship for Women Student Filmmakers for her sci-fi/horror script What Daphne Saw; the fellowship was presented by Blumhouse’s Shock Waves podcast at Etheria Film Night. Most recently, Lizz received the runner-up spot in the 2020 Film Pipeline competition for her short film What Daphne Saw. What Daphne Saw has won multiple awards. Lizz is drawn to the thriller, sci-fi and horror genres. Lizz believes these genres provide a creative vehicle for examining difficult subjects and encourages us to question our own world.
Q & A
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Dani from Midsommar. I identify with her…fiery personality.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
I think “bad” is subjective when it comes to ideas and art. A dozen publishers passed on Harry Potter! Any bad idea could be a brilliant one to someone else, or has the potential to be. If someone doesn’t understand or like your idea, which was the case initially when I first wrote Daphne, they will think it’s bad. But it’s your job as a storyteller to believe in it enough to bring it to life and show people that it’s great! It's okay if your creative flavor isn't for everyone, as long as you're telling your own truth—there is an audience that will respond to a genuine, well-told story.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Yes! I love the community I’ve found among horror creators and fans. While my film What Daphne Saw was on the festival circuit, I met so many inspiring, wonderful people that were very passionate about the genre. When I was in film school, not everyone really liked or understood the types of stories I wanted to tell. But when I was able to share my work with a broader audience, I found others that understood and liked my brand of storytelling.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere! I was inspired by some of my favorite movies, shows, music, mythology, as well as art and photographs, but also beauty commercials in particular for this film. I think the way that cosmetics are marketed is kind of weird. The super bright backgrounds and extreme closeups on people’s eyes and lips is offputting but they’re telling us it’s fun and glamorous with bouncy music. I wanted to recontextualize these familiar images in a more disturbing backdrop with What Daphne Saw.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Alien, Freddy Krueger, Pennywise, Hannibal Lecter, and Leprechaun just to ~spice it up~ because every squad needs a jokester.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy. Stephen King. Practical. Post Apocalypse.
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
We had some trial an error with a few things in terms of the design for certain props and technology that doesn’t physically exist yet in Daphne. It’s set in a dystopian near-future, so I wanted things to be familiar yet new and make sense within the story. I knew that the primary setting (Paul’s house) needed to look older because he is an old-fashioned kind of guy with archaic views. It didn’t make sense for his house to be super modern even though the world beyond the walls of his home theoretically would be. But we introduced other objects, such as a futuristic clipboard and the technology of Daphne’s brain implant, to signal that this is a not-too-distant future. I worked with our stellar VFX artist Stephen Burchell to come up with the right look of these objects.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
The horrors of the real world scare me. Even when creating a monster, I root it in something based in reality. As a woman, you’re taught from a young age about the dangers of simply existing and how there are monsters in our midst. However, they’re not easy to identify the way they are in a movie. Often, the real monsters are those in a position of power or trust that abuse it. I find myself applying this fear and theme in much of my writing.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’