“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves” - Henry David Thoreau
A GUIDE TO GETTING LOST
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Hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend! Right now I'm in a class at my university called Creative Methodologies where we learn techniques to become more creative and build writing routines. My professor gave us this exercise that will help create your creative biography and develop your style as a writer. I thought I'd share the questions and my answers to them so you can learn a bit more about me and my goals for Dare to Dream Productions.
Stay safe and never give up on your dreams even when most of us are on lockdown. Now is the time to make plans and self-reflect so when this is all over we can be more confident and achieve our dreams!
1) What is the first creative moment you remember?
The first creative moment that I remember is when I was around six or seven and I started to write and illustrate a story about the headless horseman in my composition notebook for class. When everyone else in my class was writing and drawing stories about princesses and fairytales I was focused on monsters. I was inspired by an episode of the TV show Wishbone that was about Sleepy Hollow. This story was the beginning of me starting to have a passion for writing.
2) Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
I remember showing my dad who brought me up watching Creature from the Black Lagoon and Dracula. He appreciated the story and said that I should continue writing a second story. On the other hand, my mom was a little nervous that I was writing about monsters and suggested I write something “happier”. But I found happiness in the horror and the unknown.
3) What is the best idea you’ve ever had?
Honestly this is a very hard question. One of the best ideas I’ve had was attempting to write my first feature film I wrote last winter break on my own without having any experience and completing it. It was a feat. It’s a horror/thriller film about a nursing student who gets kidnapped by a rideshare driver. The young driver puts on an impression of a charming man but is a Christian fanatic who forces heterosexuality onto people who are homosexual. The student nurse’s girlfriend and parents investigate with a group of detectives to find her love. I pitch it as Get Out but gay.
4) What made it great in your mind?
The fact that this is not just a LGBT+ film but rather a horror/thriller film that just turns out the protagonist is gay. It’s not a cliché story about coming out and it ends on a positive note unlike a lot of LGBT+ films. It’s not an overdone horror idea or fits any tropes. It’s great in my mind because it can be relatable to people specifically women who sometimes feel nervous about taking an Uber alone at night or feeling targeted by men. It’s a real horror that many have experiences with.
5) What is the dumbest idea?
The dumbest idea that I had was my 24-hour film idea about an alien roommate that came to planet Earth. It had a deep social message about members of the LGBT+ community that are oppressed.
6) What made it stupid?
It was stupid because it was supposed to be a comedy, but the jokes ended up being rushed and the timing was off. We didn’t have enough time to film and edit it well, so it ended up being very ridiculous and cheesy. The social message wasn’t clear enough too so some of the audience members were confused.
7) Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?
I was dealing with a hard-living situation where my ex-roommate ended up being homophobic and she didn’t want my ex-partner to spend the night at my house even when we had separate rooms. She started to become passive aggressive and make jokes about how she was a straight girl who just makes out with girls when drunk to get guys. I had the idea to create a story based on this and how people react to other’s differences.
8) What is your creative ambition?
My creative ambition is to continue to grow my production company, Dare to Dream Productions, and to be able to hire creatives onto my team. I want to create and fund inspiring feature films. I want to make hiring womxn, people of color, those who a part of the lgbt+ community, and other minorities a priority. Giving back to the community and education would be our mission. My overall creative ambition is to inspire others through my films to follow their dreams and be a role model for young womxn.
9) What are the obstacles to this ambition?
The obstacles are having the money to create films and money for a studio/office space. Another obstacle is not having a lot of business experience, so I feel like I would need to take a business class or workshop about owning your own production company.
10) What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?
Some vital steps to achieving this ambition is to find money possibly loans or a grant in order to rent an office space and to hire creatives. I need to possibly have directed a feature before and have more experience in the film industry. I need to figure out where the office space would be and if I want it to be in California or to continue living in Chicago.
11) How do you begin your day?
I begin my day by drinking coffee in my living room with the windows open and writing or journaling. I try to continue what I started the day before if I’m working on a feature or TV series but sometimes I feel the need to journal. Sometimes I make a to-do list or check my schedule on my phone. I eat some breakfast after writing for about an hour, take a shower, brush my teeth, and get dressed for the day. Then, I’m off to work or school depending on the day.
12) What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
I have a habit of writing in the morning because I feel like I get the best ideas in the morning right after I wake up. I have a habit of working out or skateboarding on certain days of the week after work/school. I have a pattern of going to the same coffee shop on Friday’s to do homework and work. It’s called New Wave in Logan Square. I always get the same drink: Carmel latte iced or hot depending on the weather outside. I have a habit of doing the same twenty-minute guided meditation at night just before I’m going to sleep. It puts me to sleep and I have the most vivid dreams.
13) Describe your first successful creative act.
My first successful creative act was when I was twelve and I won the Schaumburg library children’s film festival for my film called Depressed. Scared. And Alone. It wasn’t successful because I won but because I met other student filmmakers and it was my first film festival. I learned how much I love supporting other filmmakers work and discussing film ideas with them.
14) Describe your second successful creative act.
My second successful creative act was when I made my first LGBT+ romance film called The Girl at the Library senior year of high school. I finally felt confident in myself to create work that had LGBT+ characters and for my parents to see this work. I was not openly out of the closet at the time, so this film was kind of like a coming out. It was also successful because I got to give a talk to the youth at my church about accepting yourself as queer and my process as a filmmaker. I posted it on Youtube without thinking it would get many views but now it almost has a million views! It makes me happy to see the comments because a lot of LGBT+ youth relate to the film and even make friends in the comment section. It provides a sense of community and that’s my dream as a filmmaker.
15) Compare them.
My first successful act captures my first experience attempting to make a film about social problems and exploring how to put my own experiences into my art. My second successful act captures the growth of self-discovery and acceptance of who I was and how there’s always a connection between my life experiences and my films. I was more confident in my second successful act than my first.
16) What are your attitudes toward:
Money means nothing to me except the fact that I need it for my creative work. I don’t value money because it separates humans from each other and has caused harm to many throughout centuries.
Power to me also separates us in a negative way. Power can change people for the worse and make them want to dominate people, situations, or things. From a different perspective, the right people in power can influence people for the better and serve as a role model. My dream would be to be one of these people.
Praise to me is more important than money or power. To find those people who truly appreciate who you are as a person and support your work is beautiful. It’s life-changing.
I think rivalry can be positive and negative in different situations. Sometimes rivalry can challenge people to try new things or take risks and to try their hardest. Other times rivalry can stress people out and bring out the worst in people. My attitude towards rivals is instead of competing all the time why not work together and help each other with our struggles?
My attitude towards work is that work is really not “traditional work” if you are having fun. Work should be you doing your passion for money. Work should make you happy and if you hate your job you should try to leave it but not everyone has the privilege of doing this so easily. We’re on this planet for too short of time to be miserable for years doing something you couldn’t care less about.
Play should be an aspect in every single job regardless if it’s defined as creative or not. We should play in every relationship too and take risks. We’re so curious when we are younger but as we get older most of us lose the sense of playfulness and curiosity. We must be aware of this and continue to play in every aspect of our lives.
17) Which artists do you admire most?
I admire Greta Gerwig, Jordan Peele, and Jennifer Reeder.
18) Why are they your role models?
They are my role models because their films take on social problems and I can relate to their protagonists. Their films leave me wanting more and always coming up with questions or inspiration for my own work. I get a sort of “high” after watching one of their films. They also all seem like genuine down to earth filmmakers that want to impact the world just like me.
19) What do your role models have in common?
They all believe in solidarity, intersectionality, and creating films with good representations. They explore similar themes like family, fear, love, and community.
20) Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
My friend and mentor Charlotte Kennett inspires me to never give up on my dreams and to keep going when I want to give up or think I have failed. Being on set with her taught me a lot about the qualities of a great and mindful director. She cared about every single person on set even the PA’s and caterers and made everyone feel valued.
21) Who is your muse?
I would say my best friends, other artists, and philosophers like Alan Badiou and Ralph Waldo Emerson are my muse.
22) Define muse?
Muse means that they are inspirations for my work.
23) When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
Sometimes I am intimidated when someone has a lot of knowledge or extreme talent. I respond by trying to learn about their processes and ask for any advice they’d give me. I listen closely and observe how they talk or create.
24) When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness or indifference in others, how do you respond?
First, I take a breath and try to not get upset or angry with them. I think of what I’m feeling and try to see things from their perspective to think about how to respond to the situation. I speak softly and not in a passive aggressive or angry manner. I try to start with something positive their doing and then continue with what they’re doing wrong or how they’re not putting in equal effort.
25) When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
I respond with being grateful and thanking those who have helped me and supported me through the process. I respond with lots of energy and smiles. I believe hard work pays off in success.
I respond by breathing and trying to center myself. I try to think positively and seeing things from a different perspective. I say affirmations to myself in hope things will go right. I remember that everything happens for a reason and sometimes failure is supposed to happen in order for us to learn something or to make way for something better.
26) When you work, do you love the process or the result?
I love the process! I love developing stories and outlining character arcs. I’m a kinetic learner and creative artist. I like to write ideas down in notebooks instead of typing them. When outlining everything, I write plot points on post-it notes and put them on my wall. I do this, so I can see things from a big perspective and see what things would be like if I switched the timing of certain events or to see if something is not working. I love meeting with other writers or people I look up to discuss my screenplays or ideas. The collaboration is what I live for. That feeling when everyone is bouncing ideas off one another and the spark in the room is magical.
27) At what moment do you feel your reach extends your grasp?
I feel like my reach extends my grasp in the beginning because everything is fresh, and I don’t shut down any ideas. I keep going and am full of inspiration.
28) What is your ideal creative activity?
My ideal creative activity is directing on a collaborative all-inclusive set or writing something that makes me feel curious and excited.
29) What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is being so consumed by being on set that I don’t have time to start a family or to be a mother. It would break my heart if my child one day doesn’t get to see me much and I don’t get to spend time with them.
30) What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
The likelihood of the first question happening is extremely possible and right now I would say I’m doing my ideal creative activity. The likelihood of the second question happening is likely but I can make it not happen by managing my time and changing the industry by setting different rules for my production company.
31) Which of your answers would you most like to change?
Number 29 because I hope that’s not my fear one day.
32) What is your idea of mastery?
My idea of mastery is when you can teach someone else how to do your job or creative art. You are confident in your work and trust the process. Mastery is when you know almost every aspect of your craft but you’re also learning and repeatedly perfecting. You’re striving for the best every time.
33) What is your greatest dream?
My greatest dream is to travel the world writing and directing feature films that inspire others to follow their dreams. I want to be a role model to a young womxn filmmakers and show them that they can direct regardless of their gender or sexual orientation or any oppression they may face. I want to fall in love again and live life to the fullest. I want to always be questioning those in power and being curious. Overall, my dream is to be happy.
Bridget Johnson is the president and co-founder of Dare to Dream Productions. She writes and directs thought-provoking films that inspire others to follow their dreams.
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