Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter jim Mercurio

An interview with screenwriter jim Mercurio regarding the Worldfest - Houston Writing Competition.

Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?

A: Dysfunction Junction It's a little relationship movie that's part Annie Hall, part Scenes from a Marriage and with a little In the Company of Men thrown in too. I know that's a bad way to pitch it, but it's a low-concept indie that gets by on it's great characters, intensity and thematic power.

Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?

A: I run the Expo Screenplay Competition, so I am always curious to see how other contests run things and make contact with their entrants, so that was part of the reason I entered a few contests. But since the feature film I produced was also entered into Worldfest, I thought I would try to find two reasons to go. Kill two Remis with one stone. But actually, after talking with Michael Lent, who wrote Breakfast with Sharks, he got me thinking that screenwriting contests are a viable way to get attention for scripts, especially for ones that aren't easy sells. Ironically, the day I turned in my Sundance Lab application was the day I found out I won at Worldfest. I am still in the running for the Lab. That would be a life-changing experience for me. Oh, and, of course, I didn't make it past the first round in Slamdance and Austin. ;-)

Q: Were you satisfied with the adminstration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?

A: They were good. I got my framed award in the mail shortly after the fest.

Q: Has your success in this contest helped you market your script? Were you contacted by any agents, managers or producers?

A: I think the win at Worldfest and the being "in-the-running" at Sundance makes for a nice opening of a query letter. So I have been able to get it in places like Bob Yari's Company (Crash) with a cold-call letter. As a former director of development for Allison Anders' producers, I am still entrenched in the indie world. I have made a couple of films. Hard Scrambled comes out soon and I am executive producing a micro-budgetted feature in LA in October, but I seem to be below the representation manager for the most part. I am trying to flex my commercial muscles with a rom com set in the poker world pitch that I am developing with a manager.

Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?

A: I have sort of transitioned to filmmaker. I have developed and optioned a few projects, but my energy is now on getting films made, not just writing. I cowrote something for the first time this year and will probably knock out my poker treatment, if not the script, next year.

Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?

A: Yes.

Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?

A: Here's a guess: I get into Sundance Lab. Hard Scrambled breaks even. I con my investors into putting their money into another film. I am shooting Dysfunction Junction next summer with an A-list cast. Or not.

Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2006