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Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist (Lawrence C. Johnson)

What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?

Lawrence C. Johnson. Born in Pomona CA. Live in Portland OR. I have no hobbies.

Where did you come up with the concept that just placed as Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?

For a few years I belonged to a Christian church. I started to wonder what Jesus would have said or done if he returned to earth today. I’m sure he would have been enraged that men have plundered his “house” and distorted his message. It took about 4 years (with time off for good behavior) to develop the idea and write the pilot.

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?

Now I come up with a logline, theme, and a few characters. Then I start developing the beats and work on back stories for my characters. The I start a treatment, voicing the inner thoughts of the characters. Then I start writing the screenplay. It goes pretty fast if I’ve done all the preliminary work.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?

When I was twelve, but first I focused on directing films, did that for fifty years. Now I would rather do something creative while sitting on my ass.

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?

Jean-Luc Godard, Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini. I like how they write and film dreams and use reality metaphorically. Godard doesn’t write story, he writes ideas.

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?

The Leftovers. It looks at a theme I’m obsessed by: religion as a symptom of trauma.

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?

When Godard’s Weekend came out. I abandoned my friends at Malibu beach and hitchhiked north without my shoes. I was going to start a new life as Jonathon Harker. Why I picked that name, I don’t know. Maybe I was looking for a foursome with beautiful vampires! True story.

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?

Zampano in La Strada. Anthony Quinn portrayed a man without self-knowledge but who senses he is alone in the universe.

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?  

Luis Buñuel during the 1930s in Paris.