While many still recognize the Massachusetts native from her earliest role in the long-running Power Rangers series, Amy Jo Johnson has gone to several roles in film and television over her twenty-year career, including hit series like Felicity and most-recently the Canadian police drama Flashpoint. She had also gone on to establish herself as a singer-songwriter with 2001’s The Trans-American Treatment and the live-offering Imperfect.
The multi-talented performer hasn’t stopped there, however. Johnson has now added writer and director to her list of credits with the production of two short films, as well as releasing her latest album Never Broken.
I had the chance to ask a few questions of the now-adopted Canadian about her very busy last couple of years:
GREG: So, your five-year run on Flashpoint ended a little over a year ago, since then you’ve turned to writing and directing with your two short films, Bent and Lines. What was it that inspired you to step behind the camera?
AMY JO: I think being in front of the camera for over twenty years it just feels natural to me to journey behind. I am in LOVE with directing. It feels like home, even more than acting ever has.
Tell us a bit about Bent and why you wanted to tell that particular story?
Bent is a short story based off my feature script Crazier Than You. It takes place about twenty years after. The film is about life long friendship and how they make you feel normal.
Bent was your first time in the director’s chair, what were some of your biggest growing pains in that process and how did they help you better prepare when you approached Lines?
Probably my biggest growing pain during the filming of Bent was to let go and let other people do their jobs. It was a great lesson to learn and hopefully one I can carry into my everyday life as well! It’s hard to let go sometimes. Especially when it’s your creative baby.
Now that Bent has been out in various festivals and screenings, what has it been like hearing the feedback? It has a few awards to its name now if I’m correct.
I’m happy with how Bent turned out. Especially for my first short. It is what it is! And Lines is even better, I think. More focused. I try not to listen to the outside noise too much. Art is so personal, some will like it and some will not. And that’s okay.
Lines is a true story about a trip I took the [dermatologist’s] office about a year ago to get a mole removed. The rude doctor accosted by trying to sell me Botox and lip fillers. I was so horrified by the experience I made a film about it. I think it happens a lot to women and it’s so WRONG! We need to embrace ourselves to find true happiness and we don’t need rude doctors trying to tell us we aren’t imperfect.
You very actively crowd-funded on IndieGoGo for Lines, donating a lot of memorabilia from past shows and (in what I thought was quite fun) special YouTube song performances dedicated to the donors. How was that experience?
I’m still in it! I think I have seventy-five more songs to sing! It’s fun… and a good way for me to keep on playing my guitar.
So where is Lines at production-wise right now? Do you have any idea when the first few screenings will be happening?
Lines is complete! Just strategizing on Festivals now.
Now, having been a huge fan of The Trans-American Treatment when it came out in 2001, I was very excited to hear that you were going to be putting out a new album. What’s it like coming back around to recording after more than a decade?
It was awesome! I didn’t realize how much I missed that part of my soul. I really hadn’t picked up the guitar since my daughter was born.
Are all of these new songs on Never Broken or have these been written over the course of that time?
Five of the songs where written this past year and the rest are oldies that have been revamped. I’m very happy with how the entire album came out. It’s personally I think my best musical work to date. It’s really the first album I’ve created that I love to listen to. AND that’s was my goal in the beginning. This is why I made sure I produced it myself. Of course with the help of some very talented people.
Would you say that you have changed your approach to your songwriting at all?
Nope… It’s always an expression of my truth. I don’t know how to write any other way.
By no means to focus of the article, but think I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for a quick thought on the twentieth anniversary of the Power Rangers.
It’s awesome that Power Rangers has lasted 20 years and this anniversary seems to mean a lot to some people. LOVE that! And love that I’m retro! How cool is that?
So keep your eyes open for Amy Jo Johnson’s shorts at your local film festivals. Her latest album Never Broken is out now on iTunes and CDBaby!