WATCH the 1st Scene Reading of “Dietrich Danzig” performed by professional actors:
NARRATOR – Susan Q Wilson
Dr. Bitten – Todd Dulmage
Ziggy – Barry Minshull
Zaki – Rob Young
Pearce – Jacob Klick
Emma – Alissa DeGrazia
A 95-year-old Pink Triangle survivor recalls his romance with a Nazi Officer’s son in 1935 that led to his interment at Dachau.
Interview with John Pisano-Thomsen:
Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?
John Pisano-Thomsen: Although a fictitious character set against a historical background, Dietrich Danzig is the last known living survivor of the Pink Triangles arrested for homosexuality during the reign of the Third Reich.Through a 2011 interview with Dr. Theodrik Bitten of the United States Holocaust Museum, Dietrich, at the age of 95, takes us back to his young life as a successful ballet dancer in 1935. Coping with life under the Nazi re-enforcement of immorality law Paragraph 175 (a law that makes homosexuality illegal and punishable), Dietrich pursues an impossible romance with a resurfaced, childhood friend named Karsten. Charming, yet conflicted, Karsten is controlled by his stepfather, a Lt. Colonel in the Nazi SS who has forced his stepson to become a Nazi officer through extortion. Eventually, Dietrich’s pursuit to keep this love affair going leads to his tragic interment to Dachau Concentration Camp. However, through a synchronicity of lucky circumstance, smarts, and unforeseen assistance, Dietrich eventually finds his escape from Germany.
Matthew: Why should this script be made into a movie?
John: This script should be made into a movie for two reasons (both interrelated):
1) The screenplay’s messages of courage, perseverance and being true to yourself in the face of unjust adversity ring true to this day — especially in the 21st Century where roughly 80 countries still legally oppress, punish and even kill their own people for being queer (or for knowing someone who is queer).
2) It is important to remind the younger and future gay generations who have (or will have) LGBTQ liberties of the pain and suffering endured by those courageous LGBTQ of the past, to never forget their sacrifices, and to not assume that all freedoms are permanent. We must always be aware of injustice and the role that government plays in protecting or persecuting others for their differences.
Matthew: How long have you been writing stories?
John: On and off for 25 years. I have a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Utah (1989). Most of my writing has been short stories, librettos (books and lyrics for musicals), poetry and plays.
Matthew: What movie have you seen the most in your life?
Equally: Defending Your Life or Victor/Victoria
Matthew: What artists would you love to work with?
John: Actors: Sir Ian McKellen, Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, Hugh Jackman, Matt Damon, Josh Hutcherson, Ralph Fiennes, Joseph Fiennes, Sean Penn, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Harvey Fierstein, Nathan Lane, Allan Cumming, Ben Schnetzer.
Actresses: Emma Thompson, Anne Hathaway, Toni Collette, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Julia Roberts, Angela Lansbury, Sally Field, Kathy Bates, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Portman, Whoopi Goldberg, Sandra Bullock, Hillary Swank, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Imelda Staunton, Dame Maggie Smith.
Composers: Maury Yeston, Stephen Sondheim, John Kander, Stephen Flaherty, Marc Shaiman
Directors: Gus Van Sant, Sam Mendes, Baz Luhrman, Rob Marshall, Ang Lee, Stephen Fry, Todd Haynes, Joel Schumacher, John Cameron Mitchell, Craig Zadan, Brian Percival, Spielberg, Zemeckis, Tom Ford, Bill Condon, Jonathan Demme, Gary Marshall, Susan Stroman.
Matthew: How many stories/screenplays have you written?
John: Three short stories, two plays, two librettos, one screenplay and various prose/poetry.
Matthew: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
John: To have at least 1 play/musical produced on Broadway and/or 1 screenplay produced as a major motion picture. From there, I hope it will lead to a successful writing career for both mediums.
Matthew: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
John: I always keep a notebook by my bed. I get the best ideas when I awake and before I go to bed and I write them down.
I avoid writing at home or near friends and family; their energies are distracting. However, I cannot write where it is completely quiet. I prefer to write in various cafés where I can be surrounded by white noise and anonymous energies. Since I have a full-time job and a family to take care of, the majority of my writing time is during the weekend, however, I “push” to get at least two weekday evenings to write when I can.
I get close supporters to read my first drafts and provide creative criticism (with the understanding it is a first draft). This way I can obtain raw, first hand feedback and understand if it is worth undertaking or to take in another direction. A good response to the initial context and themes is a good sign to keep going.
Matthew: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
John: Spirituality and humanity, food, live theatre, opera, music (classical, jazz and world), most HBO and Showtime series, Project Runway,
Matthew: What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival?
John: A friend who works for Corus Entertainment recommended it to me.
Matthew: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
1) There is no perfect way to construct and deliver a first draft. Just dump out what’s in your brain. Reconstruction and re-calibration can follow later. Stories are never written. They are always re-written — and usually right down to the final wire.
2) Have confidence in what you write — don’t worry. Avoid the inner critic in your head at every chance you can get (this is advice from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.
3) Lastly, write what YOU want to see and what compels YOU. Don’t worry about what you think producers, directors, agents or the audience wants to see. It will be more authentic and will contain your passion. There will always be those that don’t connect to you material or your message.
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