Interview with Marilyn Pesola, Winner 1st Scene Screenplay Contest (The Singing Tree)

The more feedback we get, the better. WILDsound gave us fantastic feedback that reinforced our love for The Singing Tree.

Marilyn Pesola, on the WILDsound experience.

Watch 1st Scene Reading of “The Singing Tree” by Marilyn Pesola & Peter Moss

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sedina Fiati
Hellman – Jarrid Terrell
Colonel Richter – Robert Notman
Lt. Becker – Steve Rizzo
Voice on Phone – Roman Spera
Soldier – Peter Nelson
Mother – Erynn Brook

Matthew Toffolo interviews Marilyn Pesola:

Matthew: What is your screenplay about?

Winner of the 2013 Moondance International Film Festival.

From the darkness of war comes the need for one man’s salvation. Civilian stationmaster Kurt Hellmann can’t reconcile the atrocities of war. He blames himself for the death of 123 Jews due to a prank telephone call and, later on, envisions himself as the last Nazi mass murderer. The last straw is when the Nazis shoot the woman he loved, a Jew he had been hiding in his quarters until he could smuggle her out of the country. Too cowardly to stop Rachel’s execution lest he sign his own death warrant, he carves a swastika into his chest as a reminder that he couldn’t save her, then flees the war to seek salvation for all the wrong reasons. In the jungles of Brazil, blinded by the deep void in the center of what he thought were his values, he longs for punishment but does nothing when an opportunity presents itself — until the Nazi hunter of his nightmares shows up with his name on her list, the irony of which is that they become friends. Hellmann’s salvation finally comes from an unexpected source that reunites him with Rachel forever.

Matthew: Why should this script be made into a movie?

This is a unique, very different story then most Holocaust stories. There are many twists and turns and it offers a wide range of emotions — from hate and vengeance to sacrifice and forgiveness — The Singing Tree has it all. Many readers have said that the story is beautifully written, that it grabs them from the first page and doesn’t let go.

Matthew: How long have you been writing stories?

I haven’t written many stories. I’ve published one novel, Like Father Like Son. Peter Moss, my writing partner on this project, has published many books over the years, including The Singing Tree the New York Times called “a little gem.” It truly is a wonderful story.

Matthew: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

I love esoteric dramas. I have seen Ghost and Meet Joe Black many times, my two favorites. I don’t know about Peter’s choices.

Matthew: What artists would you love to work with?

So many wonderful artists today, so hard to choose!

Matthew: How many stories/screenplays have you written?

I have written two screenplays and Peter has turned some of his books into screenplays. He lives and writes in Hong Kong and Malaysia so I’m not up on all of his projects.

Matthew: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

Still writing!

Matthew: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

I don’t have a set routine or a specific method for writing. If the characters don’t come alive for me, I have no story, and that sometimes happens. When they do come alive, I let them tell me their story. I’m their stenographer! Peter’s job is writing so he’s quite prolific. He’s a wonderful prose writer whose words sing on the page.

Matthew: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

For me it would be helping new writers get published. I think for Peter it might be traveling because he does a lot of it.

Matthew: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Don’t put your words into your character’s mouths; let them say their own.

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