No money, no contacts, no problem.
That might as well be writer-director Daniel Johnson’s motto when it comes to making films.
The 24-year-old Brit has a knack for rolling up on a place, dropping his bags and cranking out scripts after soaking in a wee bit of the local color.
“I like landing in a country, getting a feel for where you are right on the spot and shooting quickly,” Johnson says.
A couple of years ago it was Krakow, Poland where he shot a short piece on Auschwitz that has garnered 12,610 hits on YouTube. Last year it was Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn where he put together a romantic comedycalled “Crazy Love”, recently shown at the Queens International Film Festival.
A couple of weeks ago, Johnson, with very limited in-class film education, was back in Brooklyn - this time in Park Slope - to shoot another short called “Alone.”
Before you could say, “fuggetabouit,” the Londonerhad a 12-page script in hand and an assembled cast of 10 actors ready to go.
“Raw, quick and very New York,” as Johnson says.
“Alone” is Johnson’s take on the two sides of Fun City - one social and buzzing with creativity - the other not as much.
It can be quite a lonely place as well,” Johnson says.
The characters populate Johnson’s latest cinematic explorations find themselves in full-blown post-break-up mode, working entirely too much or otherwise saddled with some other kind of baggage that effectively renders them bereftand “Alone” in the most exciting city in the world.
Johnson himself arrived in Brooklyn this time out feeling a bit disconnected due to a nasty cold. a
He barely had enough energy to drag him self down to the Gorilla Coffee shop on 5th Avenue.
“It made me see things in a different light,” he says.
Still, there was comedy in the isolation.
“Comedy is everything,” Johnson declares. “Woody Allen, Billy Wilder, Charlie Chaplain, they’re all writer-directors and you can see them in their work. They’re unmistakable.”
Johnson, who will soon jet back to London to do post-production work on “Alone” and continue working on a number of other projects, including a feature called “In the Way”, aspires to the same lofty heights of those auteurs.
He says he’s always been good at “streamlining.”
“I have friends who want to do the same thing [I’m doing], but they talk about having a car payment or getting a new Xbox,” Johnson laughs.
Johnson, by contrast, seems to be doing just fine with just one electronic gizmo - his handheld digital camera.
“Using a handheld camera actually adds to the story,” Johnson says. “It suits the script.”
Park Slope suits Johnson as well.
“There are 200 writers here,” he says. “You could feel dwarfed by it. But I actually find it inspiring. Everyone is creative and really positive. It helps.”
To check out Daniel Johnson’s films log onto www.DanielJohnsonfilms.co.uk for the YouTube links.
©2009 Community News Group
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