- When it comes to storytelling, where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from within. From things that I’m trying to figure out struggling to understand. From that Ideas are sparked and I write them down in my note pad. As of now, at 31, I see the world in new way that I previously didn’t and I’m curious about so many aspects of how I fit into this existence we all share. So I try to write my way through.
2. What is the toughest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The toughest challenge I’ve faced so far was not film related at all. Since the age of 9, I’ve been getting treated for an inoperable Brain Aneurysm, Chronic Migraines, and Brain Seizures. So just dealing with my everyday reliance on medicine and what living with my condition can do to your frame of mind is and has been my biggest struggle. I can have an episode anywhere and at anytime, so the anxiety of knowing that even if I take Meds, I may have a little situation is troubling. However, because of this, I live and I live freely with an appreciation for every breath I take unassisted by a machine.
3. What kind of world do you want to see now that your film is made? (For clarification) We know that there is a message you as a filmmaker are conveying to your audience, what is that message?
I’d like to see a world where we exercise empathy. We are living during a time where everyone is a witness to something but never an active participant. A few years ago there was this guy that fell on to the train tracks on 49th street during afternoon rush hour. He had about 2 minutes to get back on the platform, but he was drunk, so that immediately became a arduous task. Instead of people rushing in to help him, they took out their phones and took pictures and recorded this guy get hit by the train. I say that to say that we live during a time where we are self absorbed that we don’t actually look after each other anymore. I wrote the film as a “I see you and I hear you” to people living with mental illness. My aunt who’s Bi-Polar and some of my closest friends live with Mental Illness and I was tired of seeing them struggle with the stigma and struggle accepting themselves. I want things to change, and I kinda sorta feel like things are opening up to the reality that taking care of the body isn’t enough; the mind needs a check up too.
4. As a filmmaker, what are some key lessons learned so far?
As a filmmaker I’ve learned that a good idea doesn’t always translate to a good film. I’ve learned that time truly is the only real resource. I’ve learned that if its skin deep, its not enough and I’m required to go deeper to find truth. Lastly, I’ve learned that friends, who have your back and keep you going, are irreplaceable and must be kept close and honor them the best way you can. Barry Jenkins once told me to “only listen to your friends because they will be making the movies with you”. I’ve made 6 short films and Im prepping for my feature, all with the same talented, skilled, resourceful people that I’m fortunate enough to not only call friends, but family as well.
5. What would you say is your unique responsibility as a filmmaker?
My unique responsibility as a filmmaker…finding the humor in the darkness, the darkness in the light, and making sure crafty has chocolate chip cookies.
How can others reach out to you and/or stay informed about your upcoming projects?
People can reach me on IG @Alfonso_Johnson and on FB as Alfonso Johnson. My latest film, MOTHS & BUTTERFLIES will debut on HBO February 7. Be sure to check it out and I hope ya’ll enjoy it.