The newest Starz TV series will not be short on talent in front of the camera or behind it. “Black Sails” will debut on the premium cable channel in 2014 and acclaimed director Neil Marshall has already signed on to direct the pilot episode.
“Black Sands” retraces the origins of Long John Silver, the pirate antagonist of “Treasure Island,” and looks at his early pirating days under Captain Flint. It takes place on the pirate haven of New Providence Island and recounts the events that turned Silver into the notorious pirate captain who battled Jim Hawkins later in life.
Where can Michael Bay&Neil Marshall go next?
Michael Bay, the director behind the Transformers franchise, will produce “Black Sails” through his Platinum Dunes production company. This is the first TV series to draw on Michael Bay’s creative talents. He will oversee the series as its executive producer and plans to develop more TV series down the road if “Black Sails” meets expectations.
Marshall brings solid credentials to “Black Sails,” having taken a stab at other period dramas in previous directing projects. He directed the “Blackwater” episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Marshall’s most recent theatrical movie, “Centurion,” was set during the Roman Empire’s battles with Pict Rebels in ancient Britain. It deals with the Massacre of the Ninth Legion during the revolt against Roman rule. The movie featured Michael Fassbender in the title role and helped him gain prominence as an actor.
Before directing “Centurion,” Marshall broke out in the horror genre with several well-received films. His debut movie in 2002, “Dog Soldiers,” centered on a squad of six British soldiers who fight for their lives after being trapped in a house in the Scottish highlands by a pack of werewolves. Marshall followed up with “The Descent” in 2005, which chronicles a small group of female cave explorers trapped underground with humanoid crawlers that feed on human flesh.
Science fiction, cannibalistic survivors… and Marshall
Marshall dabbled in science fiction with “Doomsday” in 2008. The movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic Scotland which has been ravaged by a deadly virus. British soldiers journey into Scotland after the virus breaks a decades-old quarantine and causes a new breakout to occur in London. They must battle cannibalistic survivors while they search for a cure to the deadly virus.
Marshall’s roots in horror offer a connecting thread between him and Michael Bay. When Bay launched Platinum Dunes a decade ago, many of his early productions were in the horror genre. Platinum Dunes revived several dormant horror franchises, including “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Amityville Horror.” All of those films met with success upon their release and set franchise records for box office revenue.
The pilot episode for “Black Sands” is one of multiple projects for Marshall on the horizon. He will be making his return to the horror genre with “The Last Voyage of Demeter.” It will chronicle the fate of the crew on board the Demeter, the ship hired to transport Dracula’s coffin from Transylvania to England. High profile actors Viggo Mortensen and Noomi Rapace are reportedly in talks to star in the film, which is scheduled to hit theaters in 2013.
Marshall’s pilot episode for “Black Sands” is in pre-production in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s slated to premiere on Starz, along with seven other episodes of the series, sometime early in 2014. Given Marshall’s roots in horror and experience with period dramas, fans can expect a dark and action-packed tale to emerge from “Black Sails.”
By: Lauren Michaels
After studying film at UCLA, Lauren found that her second love, writing, allowed her to be both critic and harbinger of information. She now freelances for a variety of entertainment publications and is a regular at her local theater.