During the many interviews we made during this SXSW Film Festival, one that we were so nervous and yet so excited, was to sit down with Lily Hevesh, the only professional woman in the art of domino toppling in the world. Gaining momentum through YouTube in an early stage, Lily managed to achieve 3 million subscribers to her channel, while enrolling in many side projects to spread this unique art to the world and toppling every heart she meets along the way. Lily is the subject of Lily Topples the World, a beautifully engaging documentary about her life, rise to greatness and the people she has inspired in showing that domino toppling is more creative than initially thought. While you can read our review of Lily’s documentary here, we were so excited to meet her and knowing how she dealt with being filmed every day, her accomplishments and stardom status she achieved through her emerging career. You can read the interview below:
CineAddiction: Hi Lily! Hope you are doing well! You’ve got here a big fan! I wasn’t familiar with domino toppling until I saw your film. How do you keep being such an optimistic person? Please teach me how!
LH: I don’t know, I think it just developed over time, like the more I built the more I was forced to be optimistic so that it can push me to become a better builder. So naturally it came with that!
CineAddiction: When you knew you were to become the subject of a documentary, what was your first reaction? Were you excited?
LH: You know, I’m not sure I fully understand the scope of what it meant to be the subject of a documentary, because I was like: “This is cool! They’re like going to be making a movie about me… that’s interesting! Let’s do it!” So yeah, I was definitely excited for the whole process. I was just kind of living my life and Jeremy [Workman] was there talking and seeing it. I wanna say like Jeremy makes me seem cool! I wasn’t scared living life for this documentary.
CineAddiction: How was it to work with Jeremy? Did you know him before making the film?
LH: I did not know Jeremy before and he reached down way back when I was 19 and in college. He just sent me an email saying: “Hey, I’m a filmmaker and I saw your work and it’s really cool and I am thinking about making this my next documentary about the domino community and looking into your story more.” And I was like: “Oh, okay, sure! Let’s try it out!” So a few weeks later he went into my house and we met and talked about the whole filming process with my parents and we decided together this whole game plan to make this documentary.
CineAddiction: Do you believe domino toppling can be healing in helping other people who have difficulties in expressing themselves?
LH: Yeah, I think dominoes are a great way to kind of center yourself and it’s very meditative. When I started building with dominoes, I get into this zone where it’s literally just me and the dominoes, and I don’t necessarily need to think about anything of the outside world. I’m in the zone and I can’t see anything else. It’s pure bliss!
CineAddiction: Domino toppling seems scary! How do you feel whenever a person topples the first domino and you see your work of 10 or more hours, crumbling down?
LH: Like feeling sad about the dominoes falling over?
CineAddiction: Yeah, sad or scared! I don’t know! What is your feeling about that?
LH: Not really, setting up the dominoes and knocking them down it’s the best part! The point of domino toppling is to see how the chain reaction will play out so knocking them down it’s like the pinacle of the whole domino process and I’m always very excited and also kind of nervous at the same time, because I obviouly want it to work the way that I planned, so I wouldn’t say I’d be scared… I’d be scared if something else knocking them down next, but if it’s on purpose, then it’s like, the best moment!
CineAddiction: How did you learn how to put your feet when you are inside a display?
LH: I think that just came from practice! You learn to navigate around the dominoes and when I was younger I actually took karate lessons, so I think that helped a lot with my balance and just knowing where my body is at all times.
CineAddiction: You have participated in some films, one with Will Smith, Seven Pounds. Do you have upcoming movie gigs?
LH: At the moment, I don’t have any upcoming gigs from movies, but in the future we will be doing a domino competition show! The first ever TV show on dominoes! And I will be part of that and it should be very exciting!
CineAddiction: That’s awesome! How is your relationship with your coworkers?
LH: It’s very good! Like, my dad is my business manager and we’ve working together since I was thirteen when I got my first professional project. I’m a part-time video editor, part-time community manager and other builders we hire here and there if there’s a large project that we need done so we’re all friends and I think it works really good in a small team.
CineAddiction: What was the biggest display you had to do?
LH: The biggest project that I’ve been a part of contained 300,000 dominoes! And this was like the Turkish domino record! It was like fourteen builders and took around 10 days to set up.
CineAddiction: How is your ongoing business?
LH: The business is going well and Hevesh 5 Ink is not just the YouTube videos, but we also do corporate projects, doing commercials and events. We can really do anything with dominoes and now the whole agency section where I personally can’t take on a project, I have a whole team of builders, who can carry out.
CineAddiction: What were the challenges in bringing your personal life to this documentary?
LH: Bringing my personal life into the documentary was different for me, because I don’t necessarily share a lot of that online, I mainly share stuff about my domino art in the videos, so it definitely took a more conscious effort to be more vulnerable, and be more myself, you know, be the true Lily and kind of share my story and not just from a domino artist perspective, but from my own young adult perspective of growing up, but I’m really glad the documentary is kind of a way to showcase this side that you don’t really see in my videos. I think that makes it more authentic and just true to who I am.
CineAddiction: Did you meet Kelly Marie Tran [Executive Producer on the film]?
LH: I haven’t met her in person because of the pandemic, but we have videochatted a ton of times.
CineAddiction: You have become a legend and an inspiration for so many people in the world. What would be your message regarding this situation of the pandemic?
LH: Regardless of all that has happened in the past year, I think having passion for something and having hope for something is just a powerful force, especially nowadays. If you have something that you’re striving towards or you’re working towards and dedicating yourself off to a specific craft or a hobby, it really can get you so far and take you out of some sad deepsick moment in your life. I just encourage everyone to watch the documentary and to hold on to your passion, even if it’s not something you’re not gonna turn into a part-time job. Having something to turn your mind off of things and get in your zone where you are happy and present with yourself and you’ll find it’s just incredible!
CineAddiction: My final question is: how do you feel about films in general being displayed in streaming services? Do you think the act of going to the movies is going to change the whole experience?
LH: That’s a good question! I think with streaming services we are definitely seeing a big rise now, especially due to the pandemic, so I think personally in the future, a lot of people are going to prefer staying at their house and watching a movie at their own time and whenever they want. They don’t need to pay extra for popcorn and they have their food there and they are comfortable in their house, but I also don’t think that it’ll die out in the movie theater either… I think people still enjoy and experience going to a big theater with their friends. It’s like a social kind of event in some ways. I think they’re both good options and I do like both sides: watching streaming and also going to the theater when that becomes more possible. Yeah, I think it’s fine moving forward!
CineAddiction: If Netflix was to buy your film, would you accept it?
LH: Oh yeah, absolutely! I would love that! Netflix is one of the good platforms and everybody has Netflix!
CineAddiction: Thank you so much for this interview Lily! Best of luck to the film!
LH: Thank you so much!