Females in Film | Filmmaking | Interviews | Massachusetts

Interview with Filmmaker Amy Jo Johnson about ‘Bent’

7 Oct , 2014  

Written by Catherine Stewart | Posted by:

Fellow female filmmakers discuss work, life, and more in this new series, Females in Film. For this installment, NewEnglandFilm.com writer Catherine Stewart talks to actress Amy Jo Johnson about her recent move to writing and directing for her first short film Bent - which is screening during the Online New England Film Festival this month.

This series of articles features interviews with established and emerging female filmmakers with strong connections to New England, as well as prominent industry figures from our region. Filmmaker Catherine Stewart discusses distribution, finding work, making connections, and handling collaborations, along with whatever else comes along. We encourage you to join the conversation here on NewEnglandFilm.com or on Twitter using #femalesinfilm.

Amy Jo Johnson has a long list of acting credits to her name from her 20 years in the industry, but now she is ready for a new challenge. “I’ve decided to switch gears and dive into the world of writing and directing,” Johnson explains, her enthusiasm palpable. “ I am in love. I’ve never felt more at home.” Originally from Cape Cod, Johnson spent many years living and working in Los Angeles before choosing to leave the big city and head north to Canada eight years ago.

Although Johnson has taken on many new roles, including writing and directing, for her first short film Bent – which is screening during the Online New England Film Festival this month – she has realized that not all aspects of production are for her.

“I wore many hats for Bent, not to mention co-producing the work with Holly O’Brien. I certainly discovered during this process that producing is not something I want to pursue. I’m much more driven and excited by writing and directing.” And I find myself in a similar position to Johnson, I often feel that producing falls heavily on my shoulders even though writing and directing are where my skills lie. Finding the right collaborator, and one that has a passion for the unique and specialized skills of a good producer, is extremely important.

Bent has been doing very well during its festival run over the past few years. It was an official selection of the Toronto Independent Film Festival 2013, the Women’s International Film Festival 2013, and the Boston International Film Festival 2014. It also garnered several awards, including Best Canadian Short Film at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, the Shelly Award for Women Filmmakers at the Long Island Film Festival, and the Audience Choice Award at the Women in Film and Television Toronto Showcase.

Johnson is delighted to share her film with New Englanders over the next month. “I’m finding that my style of writing comes from my experiences growing up in a small town in New England, and it means the world to me to be able to share it with other like-minded people.”

Bent is about lifelong friendship, and those relationships that help us to feel like ourselves. “The characters in this film are based on my childhood friends, it’s from a personal experience.” Johnson tells me, a traditional place to start with first-time writers. Johnson is developing the characters and stories into her first feature, called The Space Between, which loosely takes place a year after Bent. “We will be starting our Indiegogo campaign for The Space Between in October. And we will launch a short prequel to the feature, Shooting Blanks, online during the campaign. The prequel really sets up the premise and tone of the feature.”

With all the festival experience, Johnson has met many industry colleagues that she feels have helped her develop as a writer and director. “I’m involved with Women in Film and Television in Toronto, and find the female filmmaking community such an inspiration. I spent many years thinking I wasn’t able to jump to the other side of the camera. And now there is almost no jumping back!” But Johnson still faces some challenges: “I’m finding it difficult to gain balance between being a good mom, wife, friend, and filmmaker. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day.” Johnson admits, however, that she can’t be a good mom, wife, or friend without being able to create, and make work. This is true for many filmmakers I meet – without our freedom to create, each piece of our life can’t fall into place. Through her newfound love of writing and directing, though, Johnson’s life as a filmmaker is starting to taking shape.

The Online New England Film Festival runs from September 1st to October 15th, and you can see a wonderful selection of shorts from around the region, including Bent. More about Amy Jo Johnson and her work can seen at http://www.amyjojohnson.com/ and you can learn more about Bent, and watch a trailer at http://bentthemovie.com/

As part of the Females in Film series I will be speaking with other female filmmakers who are presenting work during this years festival in the coming weeks. And remember you can join in the conversation too. What are your views on finding producers? Are you a producer looking to connect with filmmakers? Get in touch with us and share your views online at NewEnglandFilm.com, on twitter using #femalesinfilm or by emailing me at catherine@filmunbound.com


The Online New England Film Festival runs from September 1st to October 15th, and you can see a wonderful selection of shorts from around the region, including Bent. More about Amy Jo Johnson and her work can seen at http://www.amyjojohnson.com/ and you can learn more about Bent, and watch a trailer at http://bentthemovie.com/ As part of the Females in Film series I will be speaking with other female filmmakers who are presenting work during this years festival in the coming weeks. And remember you can join in the conversation too. What are your views on finding producers? Are you a producer looking to connect with filmmakers? Get in touch with us and share your views online at NewEnglandFilm.com, on twitter using #femalesinfilm or by emailing me at catherine@filmunbound.com