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WISH UPON

About The Production
Wishing Makes It So: A Film Comes Together

"Lay your hands upon me..."

Throughout history, the source of mystical powers was often ascribed to the feminine within the culture. This is a notion not lost upon producer Sherryl Clark and writer Barbara Marshall, who-following a less-than-desired result during one of their earlier collaborations in the industry-began to think about undertaking their own joint projects.

Sherryl Clark explains, "Barbara and I were working on a different project together that didn't turn out the way we thought it would. But that experience pushed us into thinking that we wanted to kick ass-we love genre movies, what people consider 'boy' movies, and we wanted to work on something that we could have a little bit more control over. We thought, 'We're going to do this right next time.'"

Serendipitously, around the time Broad Green Pictures development executive Lauren McCarthy began casting around for a project set in a high school world of cliques (think Heathers) that might include the supernatural (The Craft, perhaps), she met with Clark, who informed her that she and Marshall had a spec script that just might fit the bill. Within four days of submitting the screenplay, an offer to purchase was extended.

Early on, Clark and Marshall had grown their idea from a one-liner-the 'wish box' was about a teenage girl who finds a box that grants seven wishes, which change her life for the better...but, it soon becomes apparent that each wish also comes with a destructive (and ever-escalating) price tag. Working with Broad Green, the core idea remained front and center during development, while some of the original concepts were revamped. The resulting screenplay for Wish Upon combined the women's love of horror films with their appreciation of teen films from such filmmakers as John Hughes.

Unlike their beloved brat-pack flicks, however, Wish Upon was to feature grisly deaths, so Marshall and Clark spent an inordinate amount of time researching macabre methods for killing people. The producer remembers, "For instance, we looked up elevator deaths-many people have died horribly in elevators. The challenge then became, how can we use a piece of that? Also, there've been some really clever deaths on film-how do we raise the bar? You don't want to repeat things that have been done before. I think we came up with some interesting ones, and there are a couple in this movie that I think people will be very surprised about."

In addition to the splatter, they were also committed to the (other-worldly) spiritual side of the story-namely, the mythology around the legend of the music box. They chose to fashion a myth involving a Chinese demon or evil spirit from folklore, called a yaoguai. Without following any one tale or myth, Marshall fashioned her own version of a yaoguai that fits within the screen story and 'makes sense' with the box developed by the art department (more below). Clark comments, "We fit the demon to what we imagined the box would look like, and also, why people would covet it."

After a few months' polish (and a few more drafts), production began the search for a director. Clark always had cinematographer-turned-director John R. Leonetti in mind: "I remember really liking John and also thinking he was incredibly talented. He shot The Conjuring and Insidious, and directed Annabelle, so we knew he was really well-versed in the genre. We had approached him with an earlier draft, but he wasn't available-but later, we got lucky and we got him."

John Leonetti says, "When I got the later draft, it was wild. I read it, then I read it again, and I thought, 'This thing has a curse on me.' It has so many elements of entertainment-it's a dark tale with hopeful characters, they're fun and layered. It's really elevated horror-a teen thriller with horrific moments."

Despite his strongly positive reaction to the piece, however, the director did have some hesitation: "At first, I questioned myself-am I the guy, almost 60 years old, to direct a teen movie? Am I cool enough? Well, I think we pulled it off, and I have to say, we had so much fun."

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