The Song of the Lark
a feature film adaptation of Willa Cather’s novel
written by Samantha Shada
A feature, romantic drama set in the early 1900s, The Song of the Lark follows a talented country girl who leaves her small town home to pursue greatness but must learn to trust herself before she can rise to sing on the world’s biggest stages.
Nearly an opera in its own right, The Song of the Lark utilizes music to showcase the developmental arc of Thea Kronborg’s artistic growth. The characters, natures and styles of each piece of music illustrate Thea’s inner life as she journeys from singing a simple country church hymn to Wagnerian arias.
Taking pride in resilience over simple beauty, the film celebrates Thea’s achievement of staying truly honest to herself. Author Willa Cather highlights a range of artworks from a tapestry depicting Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow to a portrait of Julius Caesar, from the guitar of a Mexican danza to the serviceable pottery of Hopi artists and Diné (Navajo People) turquoise. Cather’s ethnography represents the true melting pot of Americans from many native cultures and their artistic achievements.
Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather authored twelve novels, six collections of short fiction and two editions of collected poetry as well as numerous nonfiction articles, journalism, speeches and letters. Cather’s novels have been published around the world and taught in schools across the United States. Learn more at willacather.org.
Cather’s third novel, The Song of the Lark received four authorized English editions as well numerous European editions following its initial publication in 1915. The University of Nebraska Press celebrated the books’ centennial in 2015 with a new Scholarly Edition. The novel is currently available for audiences everywhere.
In 2020, Cather’s likeness was commissioned for the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. “Seen as a regional writer for decades after her passing in 1947, critics have increasingly identified Cather as a canonical American writer, the peer of authors like Hemingway, Faulkner and Wharton.” willacather.org
“You really put together something wonderful with your script.”— Ada Gorn, Producer and Vice President at Creative Compound
“Please keep me in the loop on your adaptation and don’t hesitate to be in touch if we can help in some way. I hope to see Thea come to life on the screen one day!”— Ashley Olson, Executive Director The Willa Cather Foundation
“Working with director Samantha Shada is such a pleasure. Sam creates such an intentional and open space to play and create. I’ve worked with her on stage and on film, and each time I felt seen and supported as an artist.”— Stephanie T Keefer, Actress
“I wish you every success. I’ve often said the “song of the lark” is my favorite Cather book. One of its great strengths is its relevance to young women (and all of us).”— Ron Hull, Willa Cather Foundation board member, former Program Fund Director at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
“As an artist I tend to go into a shell and being around you, such an open spirit is good for me. Hope our friendship continues to grow and that we continue to collaborate.”– Randy Ryan, Actor in Kagillionaire (2020), 20th Century Woman (2016)
Filmmaker Samantha Shada grew up in the mountains of Colorado and on the plains of Nebraska. Her fascination with Willa Cather began when she discovered a distant, maternal relative Virginia Faulkner, former editor of Cather collections, inaugural member of the Willa Cather Foundation and founder of the Willa Cather Archive at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Ironically, Sam’s father was born and raised a few miles from Cather’s childhood home in Southern Nebraska.
After completing her film degree at Emerson College and landing in California she worked at notable companies such as the William Morris Agency, the United Talent Agency, Universal Pictures, Overbrook Entertainment, and Sony Pictures Studios. Sam’s narrative short films premiered at the Oscar Qualifying LA Shorts International Film Festival and are available internationally on ShortsTV with DirecTV. Her feature adaptation of The Song of the Lark participated in the development programs through Joan Scheckel Filmmaking Labs, Stowe Story Labs and the Sundance Co//abs. More at samanthashada.com
Los Angeles, CA