Derek Johnson is living the life of his dreams.
Johnson, 30, a Carthage native, is living in Shreveport and working as a professional filmmaker.
So far this year, two of Johnson’s films have won three independent movie awards. The films, “Scrape” and “Broken Blood” have been honored again and again.
At the Hoboken International Film Festival, “Broken Blood” won the New York Post Best Feature Film Trailer Winner.
“While we won best feature film trailer, I was nominated for best actor in a feature film and nominated for best of the festival audience choice award,” Johnson said.
“Broken Blood” was honored at the North East Film Festival in Mapplewood, N.J., Johnson was nominated for best actor in a feature film, nominated and won best director for a feature film, nominated for best screenplay along with co-writer Richmond Arquette, and Pruitt Taylor Vince was nominated for best supporting actor for his role as Earl Wayne.
“My other film “Scrape” was nominated for best feature film at Northeast,” Johnson said.
Closer to home, Johnson’s film did well at the Phenom Film Festival held in Shreveport and Bossier City. Like at the Northeast Film Festival, Johnson once again had two films competing against one another. At the Phenom festival, “Broken Blood” and “Scrape” were both nominated for Best Louisiana Filmmaker Feature Film. “Broken Blood” took home the prize.
“It was weird having two films competing against each other,” Johnson said. “It’s not really normal, but it was very cool.”
Currently, Johnson is working on a feature film documentary about Oscar winning director John Avildsen, who directed American classic movies like Rocky and the Karate Kid.
“He’s not only a friend of mine, but my filmmaking hero,” Johnson said. “There has never been a documentary about it. So I will be doing that and interviewing the iconic figures from his films.”
Johnson said his work is constantly exciting.
“I want to ask people of that caliber if they have stories that we haven’t heard or they’ve never told about working with Avildsen,” Johnson said.
A 2006 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University film school, Johnson’s work keeps him busy.
“I’m a director, writer, producer, editor and actor,” Johnson said. “My focus is film making, writing and producing. I don’t just direct my own scripts.”
Work on the Avildsen project has already begun.
“We haven’t shot interviews yet, but we’re lining everything up,” Johnson said. “We’ve started editing graphics and still images.”
Sometimes the work atmosphere is surreal.
“I’m pleased especially when people like John Avildsen and other big names say things like, ‘how old are you’,” Johnson said. “I’m 30, and they say you’ve done all this in your 20s, you’re further ahead than I was in my 30s. When I get frustrated I remind myself of that.”
So far, 2013 has been a good year.
“I’m very happy,” Johnson said. “This year has been really great for my career. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometime I have to kick myself and say I’m really doing what I wanted to do since I was 3-years-old.”
Avildsen asked Johnson why he wanted to work in movies.
“I chuckled and said when I was three I went and saw Karate Kid 2, at the Twin Cinema,” Johnson said. “It was the first movie I remember seeing, but those images took their spell over me and since then all my life every day I wake up and its movies, movies, movies
“Broken Blood” will be shown at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 25, in downtown Nacogdoches at the Liberty Bell Bar. Admission is $10.
“Brad Maule, my co-star, who played Dr. Tony Jones on “General Hospital” will be there with me to discuss the movie,” Johnson said. “Maule started teaching at SFA my senior year and he always said I was the first student he connected with. We’ve been best buds ever since. He’s become a family friend.”