Girl in the Picture Skye Borgman Netflix Factual America
Still from Girl In the Picture courtesy of Factual America

Girl in the Picture director and producer Skye Borgman says the secret to finding a good true-crime story is to follow your gut.

The veteran true-crime documentarian is behind several hit documentaries and docuseries, the latest of which is Netflix’s Girl in the Picture, which quickly rocketed to the Top 10 when it was released on July 6. She’s also behind Hulu’s Dead Asleep, Netflix’s Abducted in Plain Sight, the JoAnn Romain episode of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries reboot, and another upcoming Netflix docuseries called I Just Killed My Dad.

Borgman was interviewed on a recent episode of the Factual America podcast, where she revealed how she chooses which stories to tell. You can listen to the full episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or right here:

“It’s picking a story that really resonates with me. I definitely enjoy stories that I don’t completely understand, that have a lot of layers to them. That have a lot of complexity, and it takes me a minute to kind of at least attempt to figure out how or why something happened,” she told Factual America.

“I can’t always figure out exactly how or why something happened, but I like stories that I’m not completely certain of how things evolve. And I think, too, I’m mostly interested in telling human stories, and I think those are just – crime gives us the full spectrum of humanity from the very, very best to the very, very worst of people. And so, I think really sort of unraveling the human condition and what drives us to do the different things we do; how we come back from certain tragedies or traumas, that’s really interesting to me.”

It’s all about finding stories that take “unexpected” twists and turns,” she adds.

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“Just looking at stories where there may not be, you know, a very sort of typical trajectory of how things happen. Things that sort of take little detours, and people who do things that are unexpected, and interesting people. Those are the stories that interest me, and those are the ones that really compel me. We spend a lot of years on stories, you know; for me, now, we’re going on almost three years that I’ve been with Girl in the Picture. And so, you have to be connected to it, personally. And you have to have that guide to kind of tell these stories.”

Girl in the Picture tells the tragic story of a woman who died at just 20-year-old. She went by many names, one of them being Sharon Marshall. For 25 years, her true identity — and what happened to her young son, Michael — was a mystery. The only person who knew the answer was Franklin Delano Floyd, a man who claimed to be her father. The mystery of Sharon’s true identity was finally solved in the last few years, and Borgman captures the entire, absolutely compelling saga in Girl in the Picture.

“Girl in the Picture is about a young woman who lived many different lives, had many different identities. And we sort of follow her journey that really begins with her death and unravel who she was throughout time; unravel the people that she met along the way – some better, some worse – and kind of look at relationship between her and who she believes is her father,” Borgman said. “We come to find out that’s not necessarily the case, but he certainly is the man that raised her from a very young age. It’s a crime documentary, but it’s very much a documentary that looks at who this woman was: who Sharon Marshall was, who the people that she impacted and the world that she left behind, and the impact that she made in a very short period of time. I mean, she was 20 years old when she died, and so it’s really victim-forward and really kind of a beautiful, hopefully, tribute to this young woman and to victims everywhere.”

Girl in the Picture is now streaming on Netflix. Here are the time stamps from the Factual America interview:

00:00 – The trailer for Girl in the Picture.
03:30 – A synopsis of what the film is about.
04:55 – What inspired Skye Borgman to make a film about Sharon Marshall.
07:00 – What caused law enforcement to investigate Sharon’s case.
09:07 – How Franklin Delano Floyd got away with crime for so long.
13:58 – How Skye Borgman became involved in the project.
15:24 – The increase of podcasts that complement documentary films.
17:30 – What makes a successful documentary.
23:55 – What surprised Skye Borgman the most when making Girl in the Picture.
25:44 – Why they chose to use feature documentary format to tell the story.
27:40 – The next project Skye Borgman is working on.

Factual Americaa uses documentary filmmaking to examine the American experience as well as universal topics that affect all Americans. Guests include Academy Award, Emmy, and Grammy-winning filmmakers and producers, their subjects, as well as experts on the American experience. We discuss true crime, music, burning social and political topics, history and arts with the creators of the latest and upcoming documentary films in theatres and on the most popular digital platforms. This podcast is produced by Alamo Pictures, a London- and Austin-based production company that makes documentaries about the US from a European perspective for international audiences.

Main Image: Still from Girl In the Picture courtesy of Factual America