I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........
when I was able to identify the
hero's journey as I watched a movie, even when I didn't know what the hero's
I know I've succeeded........
because I have a professionally
written screenplay under my belt that I'm proud of - and I'm my harshest
My inspiration to write FALLING INTO PLACE.......
Simple. It's based on a true story.
What inspired you to write?
Lily Mercer: I have been writing all my life and it probably
started with a fourth grade school assignment. But what inspired me to
write screenplays is acting. I have made my living as an actress for
15 years, and although I love it, I want to play a bigger role in the
storytelling. I don't want to be just the person who tells the story,
I want to be the person who writes the story that gets told.
FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?
Lily Mercer: I did research, I wrote an outline, and I put all
the scenes on index cards. That didn't help me in the ways I thought
it would, but proved invaluable because the process informed the
writing. It was like reading an entire book to prepare for a test, and
then discovering the test is three essay questions. You don't use all
that you learned, but all that you learned informs what you say.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?
Lily Mercer: "Falling Into Place" is my first AND my fourth
screenplay. I wrote it ten years ago, but after hearing it out loud I
realized it was a mess. So I put it aside. Then I wrote another, and
another, and then I started taking classes and learned about
structure. During the past three years that I've been in the
screenwriting program at NYU, I have focused specifically on this
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
I wish. I work best under pressure. When I have a deadline, it seems
to pour out of me.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring
screenwriters and why?
Lily Mercer: I have entered several screenplay competitions and
it has been illuminating and validating. If you make it past the first
cut, then you know your format is correct and you've spelled all the
words right. If you make it past the second cut, then you know you
have a good story. If you make it past the third cut, then you know
you're going to be taken seriously as a writer. This is the quickest
way to judge how well you're doing. Some contests give feedback, and
that can be helpful. But all of it, the deadlines, the requirements,
the entry forms, make you step up to the plate and start acting like a
writer, and that is empowering.
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?
Lily Mercer: I was looking for reputable companies and
reputable judges and FILMMAKERS seemed to have that.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
Lily Mercer: I have two favorite movies: "Hedwig And The Angry
Inch" and "To Kill A Mockingbird." Although they are very different in
tone, they both create a world and tell a story with an unusual point
FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
Lily Mercer: I could say acting, because that is what I spend
most of my time doing. But the truth is I am passionate about helping
artists overcome their fears. I run a support group geared toward
empowering others to live their dream, and that helps keep me focused
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
Lily Mercer: I am a huge fan of Thomas McCarthy. He wrote "The
Station Agent" and "The Visitor," both of which are about people who
would normally never meet. But somehow, in a moment of serendipity,
they DO meet, and change each other's lives dramatically. I like his
ideas and I like the way he can take "ordinary" people, and illustrate
just how extraordinary they are.
FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Lily Mercer: Again, I would have to say Thomas McCarthy.
Besides being a writer, he began as an actor and director. I identify
with that because that's where I am now.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Lily Mercer: I think Sandra Bullock is underrated as an
actress. She gets the jokes, but she also knows where the heartbreak
is. "28 Days" is an excellent example of this.
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
Lily Mercer: Sure. Never give up, never give up, never give up.
And never get caught without your underwear.
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
Lily Mercer: I'm working on a bio pic about an Irish immigrant
woman at the turn of the century who helped to shape the American
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?
Lily Mercer: I will be in LA producing one of my movies.