Thursday, December 11, 2008

Derek Johnson on ‘Front of the Class’ role

Q: What was your role in the locally filmed "Front of the Class?" and how did you prepare for it?

A: I played the Tourette's Group Leader in the support group scene. I actually auditioned for the lead role of Brad Cohen, so I studied him and various other people with Tourette Syndrome. I also researched many books and literature on Tourette's, and a couple of years ago, while doing research for another film in which I played a character with schizophrenia, I met many people with Tourette's at conventions, so I pulled out my observations from those people and put together a series of tics of my own.

Q: What did you learn about the process of making a TV movie?

A: Making a TV movie is similar to a theatrical film, only the turnaround is usually much shorter, so the wait to see it from production to release is not as long and drawn out. Everything seems so much faster and before you know it, the movie has already aired.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the experience?

A: I enjoyed the research process and the chance to play a different kind of role. I've been told that I do my best when I play "extreme" characters and not just the "norm." I also enjoyed the cast and crew, especially getting to know the real Brad Cohen. He is such a phenomenal person and his story is so uplifting. Going to the premiere in Los Angeles was a great experience as well, as everyone was so generous and pleasant.

Q: What Shreveport-based projects have you worked on, and what advice would you share with local actors about getting work?

A: I've worked on several of the Shreveport-based films, including speaking roles in "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" and "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell." I've also worked on several independent films, many of which I have written, produced, and directed. Getting the part is not an easy task. It takes a lot of work to prepare for an audition and to make the character your own. If you want to be an actor, then you have to "be" an actor. You can't just say you are and not put any work into it. Take classes, study, research, and practice.

Q: How have you college acting and filmmaking experiences at Stephen F. Austin State University helped you prepare?

A: Earning my degree in film was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I had the opportunity to both act and make films on a weekly basis while in school, which only gave me more and more practice and exposure. I learned what I was doing wrong early, and had the chance to fix it. Getting ripped apart from your peers and instructors is vital to success as an artist, and many actors starting out jump right into it with nobody telling them what they are doing wrong. I'm proud that I was put in my place early, because constructive criticism opens your eyes.


Anonymous said...

Wishing you and yours much love, peace, and happiness!

Ted Ferguson said...

I have actually acting in one of Derek's works. He is a pro and takes great care to make things professional and comfortable for all involved. He certainly deserves his success.

Anonymous said...

FYI- there are 10,000 more extras in Shreveport bossier to feature, so lets give equal time to all.

Anonymous said...

Derek was not an extra if you are referring to him that way. He had a speaking role which requires an audition, which requires an agent, and so forth. Seems like a professional actor to me. Sure, there are 10,000 extras in Shreveport, but there are also a handful of talented professional actors that have been doing this since before the movies started coming to Shreveport and will continue to have success on the screen. I believe Johnson is one of those, and if you do your research on him, you will see where he has been and where he is going. But yes, there are many wanna be actors who are pretty much posers, so why insult the real pros?

Anonymous said...

Their is nothing wrong with being an extra but when you claim to be something your not like say have leads in various projects when your really extra good job padding your ego ... and good luck with the rose colored glasses.. and you pay compliments to people like you have worked with them when all You are is Really an Extra! and no im not referring in anyway with this comment to Derek i do not know him congrats with the role in Front of The Class..! Good Luck with landing future projects!

Anonymous said...

I don't think they were insulting anyone just mentioning how out of control local extras are in exaggerating their role and importance to local movies. I have worked in casting several movies here. I wish the best to everyone both actors and extras, and posers because its almost impossible for Shreveport Bossier actors to book many speaking parts in these movies without some kind of help or good luck. They don't have the resume and its tough enough if you do. Seems like everyone nowdays is posing as SAG eligible professional actors simply because they were a background extra on a few films. Lets keep it real. I never met an extra who didn't claim to be SAG eligible. Agents and directors should watch for this because it makes the local actors look like they don't know what they are doing and hurts all.

Anonymous said...

As a close and personal friend of Derek Johnson, I know that he couldn't be working any harder than he is to try and make it to Hollywood. I think his career has just barely begun and in the future we will see much more of him. He did so well in this particular role, but he has so many other behind the scenes talent that will take him very far in this business. Kudos to Alex for posting a blog about someone trying to make it and still struggling.... aren't those the stories that turn out to be the most successful?

Anonymous said...

Derek has been my best friend since junior high. All he has ever talked about since I've known him is making it to Hollywood. Derek is the real deal. Derek will be the next Brad Pitt!