Historically Accurate

Making History Her B*tch

Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Gina DeAngelis is just getting started. 

Historic Williamsburg, Virginia-based DeAngelis has Masters in both History and Screenwriting, and to quote ZZ Top, she knows how to use ’em. Until recently, her professional writing career has been mostly “research-heavy, making a good story out of real-life events and people of the past.” Now she’s set her sights on Hollywood.

Her STORIES OF WAR -13 documentary shorts for African-Americans Veterans’ Monument can be viewed as part of a permanent online exhibition right here. She also spent 12 years working for Colonial Williamsburg Productions, where she won her Emmy (2 noms) — as well as wrote (and performed in) a live performance for Queen Elizabeth II during her 2007 visit to Jamestown.

But we love her because she wrote a kick-ass, contained horror/thriller: THE KNOCKING AT THE MARSH. Logline: When their mother suddenly disappears, a pair of mixed-race siblings in pre-Civil War Virginia find themselves forced to look after their family’s farm – and ward off the demon their mother fought to protect them against. 


Jim Cirile: Period projects are considered tough sells. We often advise writers who love history to either contemporize their work, while still incorporating the history, or to find a genre way to tell their story.

Gina D’Angelis: That’s exactly what I did, and it’s 100% deliberate.

JC: Brilliant. Nicely done.

GD: I’ve also written feature scripts that:

— grapple with the inherent misogyny of the Catholic Church through a murder-mystery coming-of-age story set in a medieval convent (feminist, sexy, and creepy all at once)

–affirm that the greatness of our country and culture comes from our diversity and willingness to compromise and collaborate, through a family comedy about a ragtag bunch of kids trying to break into a niche subculture: modern fife-and-drum corps, like MEAN GIRLS and PITCH PERFECT. I turned down a sale offer on this script a couple years ago. (I’m a fifer and once had my own corps.)

–examine our fascination with ghost stories as a very unrealistic narrative of the past through a family-friendly comedy-horror, set in a re-created 18th-century town. Like THE HAUNTED MANSION and GOOSEBUMPS. (I once produced an escape-room game in a haunted 18th-century tavern.)

JC: Wow. I’m still reeling from you turning down a sale offer. So tell us about THE KNOCKING AT THE MARSH. What were you trying to say with this one?



GD: You may have heard that depression is anger turned inward. This story is about a girl filled with rage, who learns to turn outward.

KNOCKING is about generational trauma, specifically the lasting effects of sexual abuse (none is shown on screen!) as one ugly part of the American legacy of enslavement.

It’s based on a local legend in which a mother’s unexpected death haunts her two orphaned daughters. That’s the extent of the legend, but in my version, the haunting triggers the older daughter’s repressed rage and trauma to manifest in supernatural events. Ultimately she must confront the cause of the trauma, and in choosing to safeguard her younger sister, she breaks the cycle of abuse.

It’s about an abuse survivor who heals by stepping into her own power and agency and using that power to protect others. I am not a biracial girl living in antebellum Virginia, but I am an abuse survivor, and so was my mother.

The “knocking” part of KNOCKING supposedly happened near here, in Poquoson, though I outright invented a lot of it.

JC: Apart from hopefully getting signed off it, what are your hopes for KNOCKING?

GD: I would absolutely like to get it produced and possibly direct it. I’ve constructed a set of projects as stepping stones that will hopefully get me there in the next five years.

JC: You have a horror short playing festivals, and a feature you wrote recently hit the festival circuit as well.

GD: Yes, EVERYTHING FUN YOU COULD POSSIBLY DO IN ALEDO, ILLINOIS is out in festivals! It’s playing at the Marina Del Rey film festival in Sherman Oaks on June 26! Tickets available here, and the block is VVV (scroll down to select the correct block). Aledomovie.com is the site for more info.

My horror short ASK FOR HELP has been in 11 film festivals, including a European premiere in Berlin this past February. It won Best Horror at the Southern Shorts Awards. It’s coming to the end of its festival run and I’ll give it an online premiere on YouTube or Vimeo in the coming months.

JC: Gina, we’re excited to go to bat for you, and we hope the reps are as excited about KNOCKING as we are.


Join CI’s Jeri Klein as she brings the skinny on tips, tricks, and industry secrets to help supercharge your screenwriting.

Follow CI on TikTok. New content every week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.