Neil Marshall

10 Directors to Watch

VITAL STATS
Age 35
BIRTHPLACE: Newcastle, England
PIC INSPIRATION: “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” “I saw it when I was 11. When I walked out of the cinema, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
AGENT: Marc Helwig, Berlin Associates (London)

There are some directors, such as Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, whose genius lies in their ability to shoot their movies in a big but intimate way. It’s a bit early to mention Marshall in the same breath, but that same quality of complete identification with the audience has established him, with “Dog Soldiers” and “The Descent,” as the most exciting genre filmmaker to arrive on the British scene for many years.

“He’s a person who’s always loved being part of the audience,” says his producing partner, Keith Bell. “He taps into something that he knows will be both horrifying and exciting for the people sitting in the cinema. He has an uncanny ability to produce something on the page that you know he will deliver onscreen.”

“Selfishly, I make the films I would like to go and see,” Marshall says simply. “I was very lucky to grow up with films like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and I feel sorry for kids who grow up now and the terrible action films they have.”

Although Marshall’s first two movies both fall into the horror genre, he’s determined to prove himself as a populist filmmaker across a much broader range. He’s prepping, among others, futuristic action thriller “Doomsday” for Rogue Pictures, WWII actioner “Eagle’s Nest” and medieval heist movie “The Sword and the Fury.”

“I want to show people I’ve got 101 stories to tell,” Marshall says.

Inspired by “Raiders,” Marshall started as a teenager shooting his own Super 8 remakes of the Indiana Jones and “Alien” movies. He studied film at Newcastle Polytechnic, then was picked up to work as an editor for local production outfit Pilgrim. He scripted, edited and coordinated the action sequences for its low-budget debut “Killing Time” in 1993, before setting up his own company, Northmen Prods., with Bell.

He still lives in his native northern England, although he has moved from tough urban Newcastle to the rural beauty and isolation of the Lake District. “I like the tranquillity, the peace and quiet,” he confesses. “London’s great to come down and work in, but I’ve never wanted to live there.”

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