A conversation with Erica Avery from the Screenwriter's Workshop

IFP Chicago and the Chicago Screenwriters Network and Greenhouse Theater partnered to create a unique intensive Screenwriter's Workshop for local Chicago writers.

Today, we sat down with one of the winners, Erica Avery, whose script "Mercy" was read this Tuesday in front of a live audience by the 2015 graduates of School at Steppenwolf. 


IFP CHI: Can you tell us about your script, "Mercy"?

EA: "Mercy" is my way of critiquing the spiritual practice of "incarnational ministry"- Some christian non-profit organizations believe that as Christ came down from heaven to dwell among the people during his ministry, those who are pastors/teachers/preachers should do the same by living and working in the communities that they serve-sounds great in theory, however this practice-atleast in my view, is motivated by paternalism. 

Paternalism -- the policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates' supposed best interest --  often causes more harm than good and leaves communities in a more delapadated state than they were prior to recieving "help" from these organizations. In "Mercy" I use the relationship between my protagonist and antagonist as metaphor for the cycle of abuse that comes from those who are building careers off of the suffering of others. 


IFP CHI: What inspires you as a writer?

EA: My personal and interpersonal experiences are my biggest inspirition. Everything I write about and explore in my writing I have either experienced first hand or secondhandidly. Even though the world seems to be going mad its a perfect time for artists to "paint" the world as it could or should be- if we take the responsibility to liberate the culture, we can inspire pragmatists to liberate the systems of this world. 


IFP CHI: What did you want to communicate to your audience with your script?

EA: I want my audience to ask hard questions firstly of themselves. Then I want them to start questioning what we allow to go on around us and why we allow those things to go on.


IFP CHI: What are your future goals for this script?

EA: Practically, I want to write a script that is producable. I would also like it to be good.


IFP CHI: Can you tell us about your experience in the Screenwriter's Workshop so we can share it with future writers?

EA: I loved every single minute of it. I met some amazing people who I hope to work with in the future. It was an experience that made me believe that maybe I have a shot at this. 


IFP CHI: What is next for you?

EA: I am writing several projects that I hope to see finished and produced in future, some are for the screen, some are for the stage and others for the web. 



To learn more about the Screenwriter's Workshop or to sign up for IFP Chicago's new members Table Reading Service, contact info@ifpchicago.org