THOSE WHO SAVE US Screenplay Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

….Let the moviemaking begin!

Dear Readers: So many of you have been so kind to me over the years asking me about the THOSE WHO SAVE US movie. (I remember one reader inquiring at an event, “Do you have any interest in this book being made into a film?” and I said, “Hell yes, I have interest!”) I never thought I wanted to write the screenplay for my book. I thought that required an entirely different skill set than writing a novel–like expecting a cellist to be able to play an oboe because they’re both musical instruments. I thought that as an autocrat–which is what a novelist is, a control freak ruling her own fictional kingdom, as opposed to a screenwriter, who has to play well with others–I’d stick with writing books. I’d thought I’d take the money for the THOSE WHO SAVE US film option (whatever that might be) and run.

Then my producer offered me the chance to write the screenplay, and I did.  (More about what that process taught me here, in this column for Grub Daily.)

What does it mean that the screenplay’s done and turned in?

It may very well prove true that I do indeed have a different writing skill set than the one necessary to write a screenplay. The screenplay may not be used at all. My producer might go with another writer, or she might bring in many writers as the translation process from book to screen continues. Even if–as in some ideal world that exists only in my head–she used the screenplay as I’ve written it word for word, it would still morph in the director’s hands, and the actors’, and the editors’, into its own creature.

The movie might not be made at all–at least not this round. The funding could fall through, the producer could change her mind. The option might revert back to me, like a rental property the tenants have vacated, then rented to someone else.

Like all of writing, this is not an instant-gratification scheme.

Still, I’m delighted to have the chance to have developed these new muscles. And I love the way the screenplay turned out. And I dearly, dearly hope the movie gets made, by this producer, with the cast I envision, and before I’m too old to go to the Oscars in a backless dress.

Speaking of casting:  YOU decide. Who plays what roles?

Thank you for playing this magical game with me!

xoxo

Jenna.

28 Responses to THOSE WHO SAVE US Screenplay Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

  1. I cannot wait to see this story come alive on screen. Written words of beauty being portrayed through film. Imagine the costumes! The shoes! 🙂 Exciting news, congrats!

    • Thank you, Jen! Are you talking about the WW2 shoes or the ones I might someday wear to the Oscars? 🙂 Seriously, I love the support. Thank you again and happy reading!

  2. I am so thrilled to hear that this book will be made into a movie, additionally thrilled that you wrote the screenplay.

    I would love to see Kate Winslet in the role as young Anna, but perhaps she is too old at this point. I think Jake Gynnenal (sp) could work as her lover. Maybe Ryan Gossling as the Nazi officer. Sandra Bullock as the daughter, Maggie Smith as the adult version of Anna. —There are a wealth of european and indie film actors out there– It might be a better movie done with unknowns.

    • Hi, Karl! Thank you so much for your kind comments about turning THOSE WHO SAVE US into a movie and about my writing the screenplay. I can only hope I did my own book justice! Thank you too for playing the casting game (which I often played with myself when I had Those Who Save Us writer’s block). I wanted Kate Winslet too, so great minds! but I agree, she has aged out of the role. My producer is looking for a European actor for Young Anna; great minds again! Please stay tuned–and thank you for reading.

      Yours,
      Jenna.

  3. Hi jenna! My book club just got done reading this a month ago and we all loved it! We would love to see this on the big screen. Any update on the production for this? Also I think Carey mulligan would make a great young Anna! Thanks!

    • Hi! Thank you so much for choosing THOSE WHO SAVE US for your book club. I hope it was an invigorating and illuminating discussion! I’m as eager as you are to see THOSE WHO SAVE US on the big screen and will certainly keep you updated. At the moment, my producer, with the screenplay I wrote in hand, is drawing her team together. Fingers crossed! And now, I’m off to look up Cary Mulligan. Thank you for the suggestion! Please keep ’em coming!

      And happy reading,
      Jenna.

  4. I am so excited about this book being made into a movie!!! It is seriously my favorite book I have ever read (I’m only 17 but I read an insane amount of books. I think I’ve read 4 this summer). It has a lot of meaning to me because it is one of my mom’s favorite books and she gave me her copy to read and we live 6 hours away from each other so with each chapter and with each section I read I felt closer to my mom! I vote Rachel McAdams for the young Anna!! Seeing her in The Notebook (which we all know was partially set in the 40’s) really made it easy to picture her as that character. She’s naturally beautiful and just looks amazing and acts incredibly in that time period!! Keep me posted PLEASE on when this gets closer to coming out!!! When my mom called me to tell me she found out it was being made into a movie I absolutely freaked out!!!

    • Dear Greta,

      I love your enthusiasm (and your name!)–and the fact that you and your mom shared THOSE WHO SAVE US. What an honor! Thank you! I also thank you for your casting suggestions. I am checking out Rachel McAdams right now. Your comments are especially well-timed as I’ll be meeting with my producer later this fall to check on the status of THOSE WHO SAVE US, the film, and now I can go to her with updated casting suggestions in hand, thanks to you!

      Keep the ideas coming–and keep reading. 🙂

      XO,
      Jenna.

  5. Jenna,
    Your book is beautifully tragic. Your writing impeccable. I can only offer one casting suggestion. When reading the novel, everytime the Obersturmfuher appeared I pictured Ralph Finnes.
    I can not wait to see your vision come to the big screen. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Dear Angela,

      Thank you so much for writing to me about THOSE WHO SAVE US, for your generous comments, and for playing the Casting Game! This was one of my favorite things to do when I was writing the novel and was blocked: walk along the Charles River in Boston and imagine what actor would play what character…what scene they’d show at the Oscars….what I’d wear to the Oscars when I was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay… (Fingers still crossed! 🙂

      My original casting choice for the Obersturmfuhrer was Alec Baldwin, who can be so charismatic and so scary at the same time. But one thing about making movies is, it takes so long sometimes your original actors age out of the roles! I had been thinking Jon Hamm, and discussing him with my producer. Of course, we all love Ralph Fiennes, who did such a superbly chilling job in “Schindler’s List.”

      Please keep the casting suggestions coming–and thank you for reading!

      Yours,
      Jenna.

  6. Please stay on track with using actors like Ralph Fiennes. Ryan gosling? Sandra bullock? Rachel mcAdams? These actors will turn the movie into a made for TV version…a hallmark movie. Even Alec Baldwin (who I love) will have us thinking of a Saturday night live sketch. Best is to use more unknown, or European…serious actors. Not the girl next door American actresses in order for it to be believable. Love the book though

    • Thank you for playing the Those Who Save Us casting game with me! My producer and I agree with you: she is looking for European actors to fill some of the roles, especially for the character of young Anna. We are starting to like Jon Hamm for the Obersturmfuhrer, though–Alec with all his sardonic threat having outgrown the role! I am always open for suggestions, so please keep them coming–and most of all, thank you for reading the novel.

      Yours,
      Jenna.

  7. hAVE WRITTEN TO YOU BEFORE HOPING tHOSE wHO sAVED uS WOULD MAKE IT TO THE “BIG SCREEN

    nOW IT SEEMS THAT IT WILL!! sO EXCITED FOR YOU AND FOR ME!! i READ THE BOOK TWICE!!
    uNKNOWN ACTORS TOO i BELIEVE!! (THE GIRL FROM THE bOOK tHIEF COULD BE A YOUNG aNNA???
    kEEP WRITING AND KEEP YOUR FANS POSTED ABOUT THE MOVIE!!
    FONDLY
    CAROLE WALTERS

    • Carole, thank you so much for your enthusiasm! I see you also played The Casting Game with me in another response so I will hop over there and comment more. Happy reading! XO

  8. dEAR Jenna
    i READ “tHOSE wHO sAVED US” (TWICE) TWO YEARS AGO AND ALWAYS RECOMMEND THIS WONDERFUL BOOK WHEN FRIENDS ASK ME FOR A GREAT READ!! i WROTE TO YOU THEN ABOUT A POSSIBLE SCREENPLAY AND YOU RESPONDED AND SAID IT IS IN THE WORKS!! wELL GLAD TO KNOW THINGS ARE PROCESSING!
    pERHAPS THE YOUNG ACTRESS FROM THE bOOK tHIEF COULD PLAY A YOUNG aNNA!! i COULD SEE jON hAMM AS THE nAZI OFFICER!! pERHAPS hELEN mIRREN AS THE OLDER aNNA!! (ACTRESSES THAT MELT INTO THEIR ROLES!! ) pOSSIBLY jESSICA cHASTAIN AS THE OLDER tRUDIE!! wELL ITS FUN THINKING AMOUNT!!
    hOPING THIS ALL COMES TO FRUITION!!
    FONDLT
    CAROLE wALTERS
    lONG iSLAND ny

    • Hi again, Carole! Thank you so much again for commenting and for playing the casting game. Great minds: my producer is thinking about Jon Hamm for the Obersturmfuhrer! Wonderful suggestions for the older Anna for for Trudy. May I confess I have not seen “The Book Thief”–but you have given me additional incentive!

      My greatest gratitude for your faith in THOSE WHO SAVE US and the big screen version. I will continue to keep you posted!

      XOXO Jenna.

  9. We are reading your novel now for our Tampa book club. I Love the book and totally see it set in film. I see Eric Bana as Max, maybe Elizabeth Olsen as young Anna, and Laura Linney as older Anna. Jack would be played by Alec baldwin, whereas younger Trudy would be played by Britt Robertson or Bridget Mendle, and older Trudy by Hillary Swank. Annas dad played by Brendan Gleeson. Brilliant!

    • Thank you so much for reading Those Who Save Us and discussing it in your book club–and providing such great casting suggestions! It may interest you to know that my producer is considering Elizabeth Olsen for the younger Anna (I have to watch her films!). Also that originally, Alec Baldwin was my choice for the Obersturmfuhrer, so much so that I once stalked Alec B at a Borders bookstore and told him so (a sort of debacle about which I wrote an article for the Boston Globe). Remember, Those Who Save Us was written when Alec was still wolfy and scary–not so much the Mr. 30-Rock man we all now know and love. 🙂 Now we are considering Jon Hamm.

      I love the idea of Brendan Gleeson as Anna’s father and Laura Linney, whom I adore, as the older Anna. Please keep the imaginations running! And thank you for playing this great game with me! I’ll keep you updated as to how the movie progresses….

      XO and happy summer reading!

  10. Jenna,

    Just finished Those Who Save Us, and look forward to saying hello next week at the Carlsbad Library. I will try to express my reaction, a bit personal having been born the same year as Trudie, in my Amazon Review.

    Being a Jew, to illustrate the randomness of life, I point to my second cousins born that same year as Trude in Poland and their fate. And just as Anne kept sinful secrets from her daughter, in some ways this is not uncommon with this who lived a different life before emigrating, with many variations evoked by your Novel.

    Oh, partly because of knowing Anne and Trudie, I was able to connect with my own sister after many years with the certainty that everyone’s defects can, and should, be forgiven.

    Al Rodbell

    • Dear Al, I am so greatly honored by your comments on Those Who Save Us. It’s always my hope as a writer that one of my books connects with a reader on a very personal and memorable level–that the reader folds some of it somehow, whether a sentence or ideas about the content, into his or her life. How much more personal can one get than reconnecting with a family member? Truly, I am so very happy to hear this.

      Yours,
      Jenna.

  11. Dear Jenna:

    I just finished reading Those Who Save Us. I have been married to a man for 27 years who was a small child like Trudy in WWII. A few years after we were married my husband pulled out the photos of his father dressed in his SS Officers Uniform. I asked, “I married the son of a Nazi?” Indeed I had, and what was more shocking was his grown children from his first marriage had no idea! My mother in law, like Anna and my husband was 8 or 9 years old at the end of the war experienced so many of these horrific scenes from the war and never talked of them at all. My mother in law was “frozen” in time based on the War trauma. My father in law never returned from the Russian front. This trauma has resulted in PTSD symptoms that continues to this day. My mother in law, who has since passed demonstrated severe mental illness until the day she passed. Your book opened a greater understanding for me in what may (or may not) have been my husband and his mother’s trauma in living through that war. Thank you so much for your great insight and writing. It has helped me to understand far better why my husband’s trauma and I have far greater understanding now than ever before.

    Warmest Regards,

    Victoria Gilding Bockenkamp

  12. Dear Jenna:

    I read Those Who Save Us about 5 years ago. There is a young actress named Holland Roden
    (MTVs Teen Wolf ) who would be remarkable as young Anna. You should check her out. I thought of Nicole Kidman as older Trudie. I re-read this summer and live it even more. I can’t wait to see your amazing story come alive on the big screen!
    Cheryl Holmes-Brown
    Dallas,TX

    • Dear Cheryl,

      Thank you so much for reading THOSE WHO SAVE US–and thinking about it five years later!–and playing the casting game with me. I checked out Holland Roden and you know what? She is PERFECT for young Anna! (Also, can I look like her? For like a day?) It has been so hard to match young Anna’s description with available actors, and now I’ll be able to pass your suggestion to my producer. The Nicole Kidman suggestion is genius too. Thanks so much again!

      Happy reading to you, this summer and beyond.

      Yours,
      Jenna.

  13. My Book Club read “Those Who Save Us” in 1912. I have never been able to get this book out of my head! Did not know that there was even a possibility of a movie. This would be a block buster of a movie. What is the status?

    • Hi again, Louise! Thank you so much for your vote of confidence in Those Who Save Us, The Movie. 🙂 The status is that the film version is under option; I wrote the screenplay, and the producer is in the process of putting the cast, crew, and funding together. I will certainly keep posting any news on this site….and meanwhile, I welcome any and all casting suggestions! I love playing the Casting Game.

      Thank you again for your enthusiasm and for reading my novel!

      Yours,
      Jenna. XO

    • Dear Louise, thank you for the big smile! I was kind of charmed by the idea of your reading Those Who Save Us in 1912–at which point it would have been prescient! Big thanks to you and your book club too for choosing the novel for reading and discussion. I am much obliged! XOXO Jenna.

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