Writer, Director, Producer, Actor, you name it Mr Neil Johnson does it. He is a near one man film studio and appears in my DVD collection multiple times with his action packed, scifi adventure tales featuring familiar faces from the world of film. I have spoken to Neil on many occasions, for a few minutes, and also a few hours, but never get to the end of the conversations we have, so it was a no brainer when I was reaching out to filmmakers for participation in the online version of Spending Time With…
What’s the most ‘starstruck’ you have been?
I hired Paul Darrow (who played Avon in Blake’s 7) to do a voice over for my third film. I hid being starstruck quite well…. it is strange of all people to be starstruck by him, but he is an amazing actor… with a beautiful voice. I have since NOT been starstruck by many of the massively great actors that I have worked with. We all have to learn!
What was one of the most memorable films you saw as a child?
Star Wars…. it was my first movie experience alone in the cinema, and then Empire Strikes Back, because I was 13 and went to see 88 times in the theatre. I used to take notes during the film.
What is one of the best pieces of advice you can remember being given?
Don’t panic. I was a young camera assistant (17), and a director told me “don’t panic” after a giant mud crab nearly took my hand off.
Have you ever gotten someone’s autograph? Which is the most memorable for you?
Sadly no one’s. I always wanted Mark Hamill’s autograph, but never had the chance. And weird, he lived up the road from me in Malibu just before the house burned down.
Do you have any traditions that you have when you are involved in a project?
None whatsoever. I have tight contracts, that protects me and the big name actors on my set…much better than traditions.
What was the most recent book you read?
I was part way through reading a book that Stuart Bannerman gave me about a famous Hollywood producer, but the book burnt up in the recent Woolsey Fires in Malibu. Prior to that I read The Time Ships, by Stephen Baxter
Out of all the projects you’ve been involved with which one do you feel the most proud of?
I think for me it will be The Time War, which is in post production right now. 7 hour time travel movie about Adolf Hitler rewriting history, and his daughter who tries to stop him. I think this role will earn Tracey Birdsall an Emmy or Oscar or something…
What film scares you?
Jaws, because I STILL have nightmares about Sharks, and I surf a lot in shark infested waters
What is the ONE single coolest movie geek thing you own?
Everything I owned burned up in the recent fires in Malibu. Otherwise it would have been a carded 12-back Luke Skywalker, and a carded Boba Fett Action figure. BUT, I do have Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett) in my latest film, so maybe he will have a spare!
When you are being interviewed Do you prefer ‘interviews’ face to face, over the phone/podcast or by email?
I like face to face, because there is less typing!!!! Phone is also ok.
When a film or TV show comes out that you are in, what one person do you want to watch it first?
Always my Father, but he is dead now. I know he was proud.
What was the last album you listened to?
Amazing Japanese Art Band! I worked with the singer Kaori recently… Amazing song writing
With regards to your own projects? What are you working on that you can tell me about?
Twp 7 hour movies, also known as TV seasons. One is The Time War, as mentioned before. The Second is Age of Darkness, which is the expanded TV series based upon Rogue Warrior. Also a film called the End of Humanity
Do you remember who got your first autograph?
I used to be a Heavy Metal singer (part time) and I sold a bunch of albums. A fan tracked me down and I autographed bunch of stuff for him.
If you can sit down with any one living person and chat to them for two hours? Who would you choose?
Without the shadow of a about it would definitely be Mark Hamill. George Lucas (though I spoke to him for 5 mins)
What’s the most difficult thing about your creative journey?
Lack of time….
And, the flipside. What’s the most enjoyable for you?
Having technology at a point where I can do things better than I ever thought possible. Having the energy to create art… I love shooting with my Red Epic…. For me it is the perfect camera. I have tried almost everything, and this camera blitzes everything. I recently shot with this camera in 55 degree celsius heat. (a bit over 130 Fahrenheit) and the camera didn’t miss beat. I always hated the process of shooting 35mm… the Red is the perfect solution
So there you have it.In between writing, filming and editing, Neil took the time out for these questions and I for one found them great to learn a little more about the man himself. Many thanks to Neil and keep ui the great work and ill keep writing about it.