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Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist (Melissa Tantaquidgeon)

What’s your name? 

Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

Where were you born? 


Where do you live? 

Uncasville, Connecticut, in my Mohegan Tribe’s traditional territory.

And what’s your hobby? 

Interior Design. 

Where did you come up with the concept that just placed as Finalist in the screenplay contest? 

I am the mentee of a woman who was mentored by my script’s protagonist. I learned much of her story through Oral Traditions. This is the true story of Fidelia Fielding/aka Flying Bird 1827-1908, the woman who saved the Mohegan language against all odds.

How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now? 

Three years.

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process? 

I started this script as a novel but it felt dead on the page, so I turned it into a screenplay and BANG! I am passionate about this subject and currently working on preproduction grants for the film.. But I am still looking for a compatible producer.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter? 

I was a novelist and a director asked me to write a script, so I did, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow? 

Taika Waititi & Sterlin Harjo are my biggest influences.  Taika’s ability to share indigenous communities in all their beautiful complexity is something I’d like to borrow. 

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why? 

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film) ,  Rez Dogs & Rutherford Falls (TV)

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why? 

The moment Rutherford Falls came to TV.

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why? 

I love Janna Schmeidling (Rutherford Falls), Paulina Alexis (Rez Dogs) & Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Rez Dogs)

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?  


I’d talk to Fidelia Fielding, the subject of my film and see what she would change in this story of her life.