American Gem 2004 Short Screenplay Competition - MEET ME BY THE BRIDGE
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Lilly Scourtis

Eighth Place Winner

Lilly Scourtis
of Los Angeles,C

Born in Los Angeles, Lilly Scourtis received her BA degree in Classical Civilization from UCLA, where she integrated her love of Greek, Roman and Byzantine cultures with her love of film. She began working in music video production on projects by directors McG, Hype Williams and others and artists such as Metallica and Tom Petty. She moved to New York City to pursue a MFA degree in Film Directing at Columbia University, School of the Arts. In addition to her degree coursework, Scourtis has worked on numerous short films in various capacities, including Production Manager for Jesus Henry Christ, directed by Dennis Lee, Production Designer for Word is Bond, directed by Daniel Ragussis, Production Designer for Shook, by Melanie Williams Oram and Producer of Rapunzel Goes to the Movies—a finalist in the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmakers Contest, directed by Beatrice Sasha Kobow. In January, 2003 she directed her first music video for Los Angeles psychobilly/punk band The Resurrex--a low-budget, retro, science-fiction piece called Devil Woman from Outer Space. In 2000 and in 2003, Scourtis taught undergraduate classes at Columbia University, including Laboratory in Fiction Filmmaking. She is currently in post-production on her thesis film, “Just a Girl.” For more information on Scourtis’ projects, visit:


I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter.......  

In college. I was trying to figure out to do with my life and considered how much I love cinema and thought, Other people get to do this for a living, why not me?

I know I've succeeded.......  

because the process of writing this script has confirmed my faith in myself as a writer--I have taken “talent” and “inspiration” to a higher level— I have learned the craft of screenwritng.

My inspiration to write JUST A GIRL.......

came from a discussion with my mother. I told her things weren’t working as well as I had hoped with my film noir comedy “The Lady from Hong Kong.” She said. “Why don’t you do a film about date rape? It’s a very important subject that no one talks about.” As part of her degree requirements she volunteered a local shelter. I started writing this story and integrated the ancient myth of “The Rape of Persephone”—which has always been one of my favorite myths..




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Lilly ScourtisI’ve always been a writer—when I was really little I used to make up characters and scenarios with my friends. Then as soon as I learned how to use a pencil I started writing. I devoured books, stories and poems and it came naturally to write my own.

FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to write your first script? 

Lilly Scourtis:  My first script was a mess—I didn’t know what I was doing, I had no preparation, no training. It was very literary, not dramatic or cinematic. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write JUST A GIRL?

Lilly Scourtis: This is not my first script. I had written several shorts prior to this one—two major shorts, also one feature during my first two years of film school. This script took nine months to write.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing? 

Lilly Scourtis: Yes. I found it most productive to do the writing first thing in the morning—roll out of bed and get onto the computer at my desk. I would work 6 to 12 hours, depending. Some of that time was spent doing writing exercises, reading screenwriting books, doing research and watching relevant films. And it was imperative to take an hour to go to the gym! (stress/anxiety relief)

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Lilly Scourtis: Yes—this contest gave me tremendous confidence in my story and in my abilities.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the American Gem Short Script Competition?

Lilly Scourtis: I thought it wouldn’t hurt to apply! I thought that being part of the competition would help establish my credibility and possibly help my fundraising efforts.  

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Lilly Scourtis: Everyone should read Chinatown—it’s excellent. I enjoyed reading the Ice Storm, also—I couldn’t put it down.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Lilly Scourtis: Music—because you can FEEL what can only be expressed clumsily in words.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Lilly Scourtis:  My favorite screenwriter is Quentin Tarantino because he brilliantly weaves together influences to make films that are uniquely his own. He constantly goes against convention while re-inventing archetypal characters.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Lilly Scourtis:  I want to work with ME! I would like to direct my own screenplays. There are many directors I admire—Lynch, Tarantino, but they also write their own scripts.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Lilly Scourtis:   I would love to work with Michael Pitt—he’s an incredibly intense, brave, passionate actor. Also, Scarlett Johansen—she’s intelligent, vulnerable and beautiful.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Lilly Scourtis: Stay focused. 

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Lilly Scourtis: Film festivals, meetings, features.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Lilly Scourtis: Working on a feature film.

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