Jason D. Johnson is part of an experienced filmmaking team along with Andrew Ketchum adapting writer Audra Kerr Brown’s short story “Your Father, Frederick” into a film. Here’s Jason’s unique telling of his experience working on this project.
Image courtesy of Jason D. Johnson
Finding the Light
by Jason D. Johnson
Morning rises over Dahlonega. Barren trees let the light wander through their branches and fall to the mountainside. A baby wriggles on a well-loved couch. My wife stretches her eyes wide to get him to giggle. Its mother laughs. Lifetimes of relationships are swirling around in this room.
We are two weeks removed from the submission of our latest project, Good Night, to the Expecting Goodness Film Festival. In those two weeks, the film itself has settled for both Andrew (my filmmaking partner) and me. The newness has worn off. Every discussion about it now revolves around what we would do differently. What piece of footage we didn’t get. What we learned standing in a field, shooting from a hallway, and walking around in unused takes.
Experienced or emerging? It was a truthful question for us a few months back when we were considering the festival. Andrew and I began working together on shorts and commercials a year ago when I hired him onto my creative team at work. On the experienced front, we have knowledge of cameras, editing, creation of parody-style shorts and commercials, but neither one of us ever ventured into the short form narrative realm. I’d never adapted someone else’s work. Andrew had never directed a fictional film. And the talented people that we would use for a crew had never done anything like this before either.
Experienced with the medium, emerging with the form…that was us and so into the experienced category we rode.
Coming from a theatre background, making a fictional film has the feel of directing a play in an alternate universe. In theatre, with all things being live and rehearsal constantly shifting the visuals of the story, you never truly come to a definite end. With this project, it’s been the opposite. No rehearsed scenes. No extensive takes. It gets edited into a final form. Andrew and I nod that this is the best way to tell this story. It renders and then it comes to a definite end.
This film will live like this now. The only change will occur as people interpret the relationships, the sequence of events and the lingering questions presented in nine minutes eight seconds.
Good Night is a story of relationships. Lifetimes of relationships that play out in the towns, the fields, the hallways, and in neglected pictures and unused takes across this country every single day.