INTERVIEW WITH MEGAN FREELS JOHNSTON – WRITER/DIRECTOR OF “THE ICE CREAM TRUCK”

INTERVIEW WITH MEGAN FREELS JOHNSTON – WRITER/DIRECTOR OF “THE ICE CREAM TRUCK”

INTERVIEW WITH MEGAN FREELS JOHNSTON – WRITER/DIRECTOR OF “THE ICE CREAM TRUCK”

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – Is film-making what you do for a living, Megan?

MEGAN – Yes. I started out as a producer. I have been producing for over 10 years. However, the slowness in which projects get off the ground, is what prompted me to add writer and director to my resume. Wearing more hats allowed me to get things done much quicker.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – And I guess that’s one thing most folks don’t get about independent film-making – unless you make a “Star Wars” or a “Saw” you’ve still got to ‘pay the rent’ by working for the man.

MEGAN – You are absolutely right about that. For several years when I was a producer, I had a day job. Mostly working for other producers. I also freelanced working for a Hollywood catering company. Much like in the show Party Down. There were a few times I would see people at an event that I had worked with as a producer and I would literally hide under a buffet table. Because as you say, people don’t always realize that this business doesn’t always pay the bills. Fortunately, after many years and The Ice Cream Truck being my second film as a director after my first film Rebound, I don’t have to deal with that anymore.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS –  You also need a strong support system behind you, I imagine?

MEGAN – My husband Brett is wonderful. He is a true support system. It’s hard because we have two young kids. There is a lot of juggling. He has the more stable career but he also used to be an actor. So he can allow me to live this crazy life and I can put him in my films. It’s Win-Win.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – Do you have a lot at stake – even personal investment – tied up in your productions?

MEGAN – I used Private Equity for The Ice Cream Truck. But I think as an indie film-maker you are always putting money into your film. You have the most at stake. So whether it’s festival submissions or buying technical equipment or software, after the fact. Once your budget has been used it’s pretty much all on your shoulders and the small stuff adds up. Fortunately, I have an amazing Distributor Uncork’d Entertainment who really believes in this film who has taken on a lot of the burden.

But the biggest thing at stake for a film-maker is the gamble that people will enjoy your film. That the audience will get and appreciate the story you are trying to tell.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – When do you consider the risk worthwhile?

MEGAN – I started out as a producer and worked on much bigger projects than my own films. But the risk and hard work of being an independent film-maker has been far more fulfilling so I would say that the risk has already been worthwhile. Life is so short. You gotta do what you love!

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – Do you have a plan for your career?

MEGAN – My plan is to just keep on doing what I’m doing. I have another movie in the pipeline for next year called Hunting Season and I have a few projects as a producer. But as I said, I have two kids, so I am just trying to balance it all. Spending quality time with my family and trying to keep going as an artist.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – Would you prefer to keep working on original productions or would you be quite happy if, say, Disney knocked on the door and offered you the chance to make a sequel to “Star Wars”?

MEGAN – I think about that a lot and I have been approached to direct other projects. But I think I would prefer to only direct my own screenplays. However, I am totally open to having other directors direct my scripts that I don’t want to direct, myself. I have had directors attached to things in the past. But as a director, I think I would prefer to make films that completely have my style and that starts with the story and the way its told.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – Was it a thrill getting such good reviews? How much do they mean to a film-maker?

MEGAN – I was worried about this film, that the horror fans would think it was too light. I thought The Ice Cream Truck would be a very polarizing film. And there have been a small number of reviews where the reviewer just did not like it. But you can tell by reading the review that they were literally reviewing the film at face value. There is so much more going on under the surface of this movie. So for me, it’s so fun when a reviewer just really gets it. I’m so proud that the majority of the reviews have been great!

I’m thrilled that the horror audience is really responding to the subtext and the throwback nature of the film.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – Have you kept the mixed ones, too?

MEGAN – Mixed reviews are fine. I look at all reviews and value everyone’s opinion. The only reviews I don’t like are the ones where they just bash the film. To me, that is more like an Internet troll than a reviewer. Especially when the quality of the film is so good. It makes me wonder, what do they say about a really terrible movie? You know?

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – Good reviews. Do they also open doors for you as a film-maker?

MEGAN – I hope they will. Reviews are still coming out. It’s a pretty nerve-racking time. I’m just glad people are enjoying the film. That’s all that really matters and that’s why I do what I do.

MY BLOODY REVIEWS – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given from anyone?

MEGAN – When I was in my early 20s I was interested in too many things, as creative often are. I was interested in in art, fashion, writing, etc., and my Grandfather said “You can’t be anything if you want to be everything.
You have to figure out what you want to do and get good at it.”

He also told me a Zulu proverb “The future doesn’t wait for you: you have to go and catch it.”

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