THORN TREES: PILOT EPISODE
A prequel to the Salem Witch Trials and new twist on the truth behind them. The mystery surrounding the death of a hesitant witch’s sister leads her to into a web of secrets and betrayal. It causes her to question her relationship with the sister she thought she knew, and to recruit a repentant witch-hunter to investigate her murder in this Salem Witch Trials prequel that begins in England.
Drama · Period · Historical Fiction · Mystery · Faith & Spirituality · Female Protagonist
Comps: Vikings (History) | Good Witch (Hallmark) | Salem (WGN America)
Logline: A hesitant witch recruits a repentant witch-hunter in Elizabethan England to help save her family from a backstabbing bishop intent on murder in this prequel to the Salem Witch Trials.
THORN TREES explores witches, witchcraft, corruption, secrets, family and identity in the European Renaissance period. The story acts as a prequel to the Salem Witch Trials, exposing the true reason behind them.
The pilot begins with an unfamiliar ritual, the Shamanic Triangle, being conjured by the protagonist, clairvoyant witch RACHEL GARE. Rachel is hesitant to use magic, but her village, Aelbank, is under threat of being cleared because they can’t pay the rent to the landowner. While the ritual is occuring, a ship crashes into the shore with many casualties.
Those who are still alive are being drowned by the villagers who see this as good fortune since they can keep any goods they find in the wreckage–as long as the passengers and crew are dead. Rachel is horrified, “What have i done?”
The plot continues by introducing the Christian and Pagan characters who impact Rachel and her family’s world, outlining their struggles with each other through scenes of magic, violent action, conspiratorial dialogue, and the dual determination to not only survive, but to thrive.
Did Rachel’s ritual or PASTOR JOSEPH’s parish praying to God cause the ship crash? Two bodies washed up on the shore are the splitting image of a shape Rachel has seen numerous times as omens of something coming. What does it mean and what does she do if anything? Why is Rachel’s sister, LIZBET, doubling over in pain at the same moment when a witch in another village in England is being murdered? Why is teen ELLEN, Rachel’s niece, hiding from dashing HUGH DACRE, the young county magistrate while attending the county fair in Salcombe?
Why is Pastor Joseph suddenly turning the parish against Rachel’s family even though they attend his church every Sunday as does the rest of the village–that is, everyone except Joseph’s brother PAUL? Why does Paul’s young adult son, THOMAS, believe his father is responsible for his mother’s disappearance, and did this event cause the twisted relationship between Thomas and his younger sister, JOCELYN? Will Rachel’s family discover the truth behind Paul’s fall to his death from the cliff overlooking the ocean during the storm?
The pilot ends where the story begins but by this time, we are caught up in a web of concerns and questions that beg to be resolved and answered.
WHY ARE WE PRODUCING THORN TREES?
We decided to indie produce ourselves after pitching and discovering that the entertainment industry is attached to a tradition of witch-based stories being either horror or fantasy, that perpetuates stereotypes that are disrespectful and maintain prejudice–that very often includes metaphysical practitioners, shamans and other lightworkers as recipients. We are committed to not going down that path.
One of our producers is a Wiccan High Priestess & pipe carrier. Another is a healing artist, pipe carrier, and is a Christian ordained minister. We practice many faiths and walk different spiritual paths among us–respectful of each other, committed to telling a realistic story about a Pagan family led by a strong, female protagonist.
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Discover More About Our Director, Creators, Screenwriter & Producers
– Lili Bordán (Director), California & New York, U.S.A./Hungary
– Bruce Nahin (Co-Producer), California, U.S.A.
– Meta Valentic (Line Producer), California, U.S.A.
– Bernadette Montana (Producer), New York, U.S.A.
– Jacob Larch (Creator, Screenwriter, Producer), England, U.K.
– Valerie Mich’El Oliver (Creator, Producer), New Jersey, U.S.A.
– Lyndsy Spence (Consulting Producer), Ireland, U.K.
– Alisha Solaiman (Assistant Producer), Maryland, U.S.A.
– Rachel Kaufman (Assistant Producer, Intern), New Jersey, U.S.A.
– Clarissa Labady (Assistant Producer, Intern), Fairleigh Dickinson University, U.S.A.
Need to chat with one of the producers? Please be sure to put THORN TREES in the Subject field of your email:
Jacob Larch (Creator, Screenwriter, Producer, U.K.)
Valerie Mich’El Oliver (Originator, Creator, Producer, U.S.)
Bernadette Montana (Producer, U.S.)
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