Mercer talks filmmaking at HCC

Brenda Jacoby

With the premiere of two films on Saturday, Oct. 25, the culmination of Mercer’s efforts will be on display. Film professor Richard Harrington guided Nicholas Mercer’s dream of making movies into a reality.

Mercer, 21, reflected on the journey he started two years ago when he started working on “American Dream Quest” (ADQ). His experiences working on that movie served as the driving force to make “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Fairfax?,” the sequel to ADQ set to premier Oct. 25. “I want this movie to be something I can watch with my family over and over again,” Mercer said. “I want this movie to be something people can bond with, laugh with and particularly for the film students — learn with.”

Mercer saw a billboard advertising the Houston Community College’s MovieMakers Academy when he was 19-years-old. He joined in the production of ADQ in Summer 2012 as a writer and production crew worker. He left to focus on his studies, and returned to the film department in January 2013.
“I was in total shock at how little progress had been made,” he said. An April 2013 premiere appeared unlikely, so Mercer rolled up his sleeves and became production manager. His expanded role included acting and writing as the crew worked to meet the deadline.

The crew completed filming on time, but Mercer recalled another hurdle that stood in the way. “I was watching Rick export the finalized film to his hard drive. Disaster struck,” recalls Mercer. “The file and backup were corrupted. Over the next three days, Rick, Kevin Bui and I recreated and exported the film in time for the premiere.”

Plans for a sequel to ADQ were discussed, and Mercer agreed be supervising producer on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Fairfax?” With him at the helm, Mercer was able to do some things differently. For continuity, four cast members from ADQ reprised their roles, Mark Richter, Erik Calderon, Anna Rosenberg and Nicholas Mercer. Four new members were added: Neelou Goodarzi, Soroosh Medhi, John Sanchez and Robert Rowley. Mercer explained the most important difference between ADQ and Fairfax, “We found out who was interested and dedicated to acting and wrote the plot with that in mind.”