Monday, 6 January 2014

Meet Daniel Johnson - Part 3

"If you are going to tell people the truth,
be funny or they'll kill you."

- Billy Wilder

When you talk to a film-maker it is important you get to know people's influences and inspirations, as so many people have a direct impact on people's work.  Having previously skirted over such issues in my previous interviews with Daniel Johnson, I felt it important to get a bit more specific with him, what is it about his influences that strike a chord with him, and which films of his heroes are his favourites. Starting with the work of Charlie Chaplin.

You admire Charlie Chaplin greatly? Why does his work still resonate today? 

He was there at the beginning of cinema. He helped shape so many of the storytelling devices that we still use today. If you look at 'The Kid', from 1922, it feels so modern compared with everything else from that era. 

I think that Chaplin's 'The Tramp' was a real beacon of light, a piece of cinematic magic, the type that we have not had since. He was a character who brought out the best of human nature, both hilarious, heart-warming and heart-breaking. That image is iconic, and buried deep in the psyche of nearly everyone in the world! That's why it resonates.

My favourite film of his is Modern Times. It has so much originality. And more hilarious jokes in it than most writers are able to pull off in a lifetime. 

Cameron Crowe hit a rich vein of form with Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, why has his style or brand of film-making become less popular?

Personal movies are really hard to get made in the studio system. I love Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo too. In fact, even though We Bought A Zoo is an adaptation, it is still very much a Cameron Crowe movie. 

I don't know if he got less popular, or if he just worked on other interests for a while? I think every director has a golden period. Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous are two absolutely perfect movies. Does he need to match them again? No. I'm just happy he's still creating movies. 
Almost Famous - I just relate to it so much. The love for music, the drive and ambition of William -- so much in that film just resonates deeply. 

Woody Allen is another person you admire, do you hope for a career to match his output and longevity?

I think Woody Allen is one of a kind. I don't think anyone is going to match his output and longevity. To begin with, I don't even think his kind of career is possible in this day and age. But even if it was - who could match the masterpieces he's created? 

Manhattan Murder Mystery - It's a film Woody himself dismisses as being merely a trifle, unimportant, etc - but it's Woody at his best -- a truly hilarious film. 

Billy Wilder, the original cinematic sceptic, and the first writer-director auteur in fact who put his signature on many a film. Elaborate on your admiration for him.

I wouldn't say he was the first auteur, but definitely one of the best. My admiration for him is that his movies fill me with wonder. They're magical. How can you not get swept away in Double Indemnity or Some Like It Hot?

The magic with Wilder was in the screenplays, his care for the words. Who do we have today who can do the same thing? Aaron Sorkin, perhaps, but compared to Billy Wilder he's an amateur
The Apartment. Every frame of it, every piece of dialogue, all of the music ---- just makes me extremely extremely happy.

Is there anyone else I have missed out, where do you stand on the Coens or David O Russell?

Coen's I can take or leave, and usually leave. David O'Russell I enjoy, but his work doesn't resonate with me personally in the way the people above do. 

And Spielberg, I've never heard you speak of him as glowingly as the other people.

I love Spielberg in the way I think any film fan does. I go through stages every few years where I'll watch all my favourites of his, which are usually Duel, Jaws, E.T and Saving Private Ryan. Maybe Jurassic Park too. 

I think my mind has gravitated in recent years to smaller, independent movies, so I spend less time watching the work of Spielberg. But he's one of the greats, of course.

If you would like to see more of Daniel Johnson's short films then please seek out his website and follow him on twitter @danieljohnsonuk

Watch this teaser trailer of Sally the Life Coach, a web series Daniel has created with Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street, Stictly Come Dancing), the series should go live in early 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment