Logline: A night with a troubled stranger forces a young male sex worker to confront a haunting moment from his past that he thought he’d left behind.
Director: Micah Stuart
Writer: Brandon Crowder
Producer: Brandon Crowder, Micah Stuart, Clay Pruitt
About the key creatives:
Micah Stuart got his start in film as an editor for movie trailers. After shifting his focus to filmmaking, he directed his first film: The Ballerina And The Rocking Horse. He has since written and directed many film projects, including the award-winning film Lucidia.
Clay Pruitt is a writer/producer, having worked with the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, Outfest Film Festival, and Palm Springs International Film Festival. Pruitt has also developed a number of film and TV projects.
Brandon Crowder is a Los Angeles-based actor, writer, and producer. Recent film credits include the award-winning short films The Ballerina and the Rocking Horse and Still A Rose. Brandon is passionate about sharing stories from and about the LGBT community, with the hope that exploring the complexity of gay experiences will contribute to the understanding that members of marginalized communities are just as equally nuanced and substantial as everyone else, and their stories deserve to be told.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): All of the above.
Funders: Crowdfunded through Indiegogo.
Made in association with: Lonesome Pine Films, Built By Trees
Release date: Fall 2016
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you. This film was really an exploration of my own personal journey toward accepting myself as a gay man. The two characters each represent elements from my process of coming to terms with my sexuality and identity as a gay man. It was important to me to relate the struggles I have faced in the hopes that I can give someone who may be experiencing something similar an opportunity to see that they are not alone.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think that witnessing stories about individuals who are generally marginalized is an incredibly important experience. It allows us an opportunity to become intimately acquainted with an individual that we may have never met or don’t fully understand.
So many of us have a variety of preconceived ideas about people who are “different” from us, and media representation plays a large role in shaping those ideas. My goal as a storyteller is to provide opportunities for audiences to get to know the human being behind the label we use to identify them.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, the characters in JOHNNY are experiencing struggles that are closely related to similar struggles that I faced (and still continue to face) in my own coming-of-age as a gay man. What is so powerful about this type of storytelling, however, is that a lot of the themes we explore are incredibly universal. I think everyone can identify with feelings of loneliness, confusion, regret, fear, desire, and guilt. These emotions are all at the core of what the characters are experiencing in JOHNNY.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
As with all stories, the narrative of JOHNNY has definitely grown and transformed throughout the development and production process. I think the most important moments of evolution that we found were the result of working hard to uncover the truth of what each character was searching for in their own individual journeys.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The reactions we’ve been getting from audiences thus far have been extremely touching and humbling. We’ve seen that for a lot of people, JOHNNY has been an opportunity to experience a story about some of the struggles faced by gay men that don’t usually get represented in narrative film.
I know that for myself, when I was younger and beginning to come to terms with my sexuality, the representations of gay men that I was able to find in mainstream media didn’t reflect me, and it left me feeling very confused and alone. Having the opportunity to make one person feel less alone in this world, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, is an opportunity for which I could not be more grateful.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
For me personally it’s been a wonderful reinforcement that I’m not alone in the way that I’ve felt during my own personal journey. Hearing people identify and empathize with a story that’s so closely related to my own struggles has been incredibly comforting and reassuring.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
The importance of storytelling for me is contributing to an ongoing dialogue about how we can become more accepting and understanding of each other, regardless of how we may be different. Any opportunity to share our story with an audience is an opportunity to bring people together with the hope of creating a more accepting and loving community.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Once we’ve completed our festival season, we will be looking for an online home for JOHNNY. We would love to find a distribution platform that is interested in hosting the film. We would also gladly welcome any opportunity to speak with other journalists who would like to assist in furthering the conversations initiated by the film.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would love for JOHNNY to inspire people to connect with others in a more compassionate way. We are all experiencing a myriad of struggles and setbacks as we journey though this life, and just because someone else’s journey may look different than yours, it doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult. We are all human, and we all need support sometimes.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I think the main characters in JOHNNY are both struggling with a similar question, which is whether they may actually deserve the hardships they’ve faced because there is something wrong with them.
For me personally, this is a question that I asked myself many times as I struggled to accept my own sexual identity. And I hope that one question we can begin to ask each other instead is: “What can I do to make sure that the generation that follows me never feels as though who they are is inherently wrong?”
Would you like to add anything else?
I would just like to thank you and We Are Moving Stories for taking the time to speak with me and giving me an opportunity to talk more about why this film is so important to me. Also, if anyone would like to connect with us, learn more about the film, or would even just like to continue having a dialogue, please visit our website: www.JohnnyTheFilm.com or connect with us on social media: www.facebook.com/JohnnyTheFilm
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Micah, the director of JOHNNY, and I are currently workshopping some ideas for our next project together; and in the meantime, I am also co-producing a new film project called Before Night, which is scheduled to be released later this year.