Emily Mortimer: Stay True to Your Story and You will Never Go Wrong!


“Be ambitious, stay true to your story and you will never go wrong,” HBO’s Doll & Em star Emily Mortimer told Master Lab filmmakers during her recent visit to Reel Works. “Write what you know and stay true to your experience. It will be frightening, but if you tell your story passionately and committedly, it will resonate, it will work!”

Actor, writer, producer, and Reel Works Advisory Board Member, Mortimer came to share her work and her creative process with our narrative filmmakers.  Doll & Em began as two real-life best friends – Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer – having fun and brainstorming ideas about what would happen if one of them became the other’s personal assistant. They pitched their concept to their friend, director Azazel Jacobs, who convinced them to shoot a pilot. Filming on a shoestring in Mortimer’s real trailer on the set of Newsroom, the pilot was purchased by Sky Television in Britain and eventually by HBO, where it ran for two seasons.

Throughout this special workshop, she reminded the students to to approach their film projects with high hopes and endless possibilities. “All you need is a camera and an idea. Find people you trust, be open, be crafty, be vulnerable and enjoy it.”

“Emily’s words were so inspiring,” said Dexter Dugar, a graduate of Reel Works’ Master Lab, “and her advice today reinforced my desire to write honestly and authentically. To stay true to my world, and write about what I know; the strange characters, awkward situations, uncomfortable feelings, friendships and quirks. She encouraged us to be confident in our truths. I needed to hear that and I’m excited now more than ever to write mine.”

“It was so nice to hear Emily’s story of how she and her best friend created Doll & Em,” said Brittany Broderick, current Master Lab student. “Emily took the time to encourage us and really stress to us that we have to believe in our work, and maintain high hopes. That we can create something viable and something that works. Her journey is one we could relate to. I hope she visits us again.”

Mortimer reminded the students that the creative process can be frightening, but to treat it like an adventure – to be crafty and creative, to play with people’s expectations and believe in the world you are trying to create. “Be as open and unguarded as you can, allowing the story to change and evolve – let it flow and it will come out right,” she advised.

After sharing her work and her process, Emily lead a table-read of 16 year-old writer/director Julie Greenidge’s untitled short script that will go into production later this month.  She gave Julie and the rest of the students valuable insight and feedback in writing screenplays and capturing the essence of their stories.

“Be confident and believe in yourself,” she told the students. “Tell yourself – I am doing this because I am an artistic person and I am so lucky to be able to express myself like this.”

Thank you, Em, we hope to see you soon!


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