Photo by Patrick Harbron/AMC


Marti Noxon Has Been Taking Hollywood By Storm (For a While)

A Q&A with one of the most prolific writer-producers in television

Alicia “Plum” Kettle. Rachel Goldberg. Camille Preaker … These are some of the women whose stories Marti Noxon wanted to share with the world, so she brought them to life in Dietland, UnREAL, and Sharp Objects. By showing their flaws, their vulnerabilities, their anger and their determination, Noxon has jumped head first into their inner thoughts to have women’s collective voices heard through her sharply penned characters.

Noxon is one of the most prolific writer-producers in television today. Over the course of her impressive 20 year career, Noxon has worked on some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed series of the past two decades, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, and Glee. And, as if that wasn’t already an impressive resume, her most recent credits as a creator include HBO’s high-profile hit Sharp Objects, AMC’s critically acclaimed Dietland, Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, and the Peabody Award winning UnREAL for Lifetime.

In 2017, she made her directorial debut with the powerful and deeply personal To The Bone, for which she also wrote the screenplay. Loosely based on her own experiences with eating disorders, the film premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is currently available on Netflix.

Noxon will be delivering a 2019 SXSW Film Keynote. Recently, she answered some questions about her diverse experiences with film and television as well as her influences.

Noxon at SXSW 2015. Photo by Jessy Huff

Noxon at SXSW 2015. Photo by Jessy Huff


What do you consider the biggest trends in film and TV right now?

Marti Noxon: One thing I’m excited about is the return of the romantic comedy. Movies like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix and shows like Insecure on HBO are bringing back the genre with a more modern, female-driven point of view. People are hungry for more escapist fare right now and I can’t blame them.

What are the different skill sets for writing, producing, and running a show?

MN: The writing draws from a very internal and personal world; sometimes I really need to be alone to work out the kinks in something I’m developing. Producing and running a show however, is mostly about being a good team leader, being a good communicator and remaining positive when the inevitable rough patches arise. You have to hold the vision for the tone of the piece and be able to keep everybody rowing in the same direction.

What is your mindset and process for writing complex and dynamic female protagonists?

MN: I’m drawn to characters in situations I feel for characters I have compassion for from my own experience or because I can deeply relate to their stories. If I can’t find the urgency in their stories – the why tell this story now, today type of urgency – then I move onto something else. Although my recent leads have been female, I feel this way towards any of my protagonists; I need to find that deeply, relatable core to their journey.How would you describe your experiences working in television versus film?

MN: Until I started directing, working in film was very different. A writer on a film is often not with the project all the way through. You write the script and pass it off to a director – if you’re lucky. Some projects never even get off the ground. I was involved on set as a film writer only once or twice. In TV it’s been the opposite for me, most of the time. You are deeply collaborative at every step of the process – from the script to production to the final edit. It’s why so many writers get addicted to TV. Now, after directing my first film, I’m pretty hooked on seeing my film scripts through from start to finish. I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to being a writer for hire.

What is a question you wish people asked you more?

MN: I’m a film fan so I wish people asked about my influences more. So, for the record, the early work of James L. Brooks – Broadcast News in particular – really showed me that a mainstream commercial film could also be about something. That film has so much to say and still really satisfies me as a romantic comedy. Billy Wilder is another filmmaker I admire a ton. He was so versatile and explored different genres in such interesting ways. I also think Lisa Cholodenko, Wes Anderson, and George Miller are great. I also love that Patty Jenkins broke the superhero movie glass ceiling. I’m excited about Adam McKay’s work lately and – I could go on and on.

SXSW will be held March 8-17, 2019. The Film Badge gets you primary access to all SXSW Film events including Film Keynotes and Featured Sessions, world premieres, round tables, workshops, parties, and more. See you in March!

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