MEET THE FESTIVAL DIRECTOR: SUSAN JOHNSTON
NEW MEDIA FILM FESTIVAL, LOS ANGELES





07.11.2019





Tell us a bit about yourself.


I’m constantly growing, learning, engaging, exploring humanity. By honoring stories worth telling via New Media (an infinite catalyst for story & technology) I’ve seen firsthand how it is empowering, soul enriching, career advancing and relationship building, story and its implementation thereof helps us all.


Tell us a bit about your all-time favourite movie(s).


Willy Wonka, the Gene Wilder version, Mahogany, Cinema Paradiso they each immerse me in a journey, texture, thought.





What is the story behind your festival?


The economic crisis in 2008, I witnessed many people leave Los Angeles, lose their homes and jobs (a lot went to Atlanta). I went to sleep asking myself how can I use all of my experiences to date (I’ve been in the business since a kid) and help, I woke up with a blueprint for the festival.


What makes your festival unique?


The story/content speaks for itself regardless if you are a first time filmmaker or a major award winner. We press play, no politics, period. If I am associated with a film, it can’t be in competition and If I know someone associated with a submission, I can’t judge it or put my two cents in. Same for the judges. In addition, we offer opportunities outside of the festival just for submitting.





What obstacles did you have to overcome?


Oh, I’m still overcoming them as we are constantly evolving. I’ll quote Yoda – “There is no try, do.” We do, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and I find that fascinating because we are stepping into the unknown, it is discovery, implementation and adjustment. In the beginning I was bypassing systems online as software wasn’t created for what we wanted to do. Things are a bit easier in that regard but new challenges always show themselves.


What kind of films/audiovisual content are you looking for?

I’ll share an experience of a review/judging session. I’ve witnessed many times reviewers and judges all watching the same content at the same time, they are all different ages and from all different cultures, and it is clear when content moves people in unison and it is beautiful to experience. One of the things I’m really proud of is when Charlotte Huggins (Producer, Journey to the Center of the Earth) said to me that she experiences a lot of programming and she said we had the best programming!





What makes you turn down a film?


We don’t turn down films, even if you are not accepted into the festival, you are accessible for all opportunities. Example, Jackson Wild and United Nations were seeking films about elephants, so we searched elephant and contacted those filmmakers to offer them that opportunity.


Do you have any tips for filmmakers/content creators?


Business acumen.