A Filmmaker with a Vision

Filming the young students from Renbrook and Hartford’s Jumoke Academy over the course of the day, Johansen captures the magic of the day and the pure creativity of students producing arcade games constructed of cardboard.

This past summer Johnasen interned with 15 other aspiring film enthusiasts at Real Art Ways and the Greater Hartford Arts Council under director-in-residence, Pedro Bermudez who teaches at the University of Hartford. Since the best filmmakers are movie addicts, Bermudez had the students view different films at the start of the day to glean inspiration and technique. In watching a particular scene from The Godfather, Johansen learned the importance of filming from different perspectives to build suspense and tension through the use of camera work.

Each week the young auteurs tackled a different project. During one week’s assignment, the director tasked students to write a script for an antagonist that sympathizes with him/her and attempts to see the situation from his/her perspective. Johansen developed a taut script centered on an anguished young man who leads on his girlfriend because he is confronting issues of his own sexual identity. The three-minute piece featured tight shots of the main character talking interspersed with text messages. Johansen tapped Connor O’Loughlin ’17 for the leading role, and he delivered a standout performance. Johansen said writing short works is very difficult, “It’s much harder to develop a short piece. You have so much you want to say and you need to distill it down to what is the most essential.”

Her upbeat three-minute piece on the Renbrook event included highlights of the imaginative genius of young minds. Johansen describes the day “inspiring” as she saw the students creatively collaborating with cardboard, paper towel rolls, and styrofoam popcorn. In addition to straight on filming, she used text overlays, chyrons, animation and still photography in post-production.

She cites two female directors as inspiration: Lynn Ramsay who filmed We Need to Talk about Kevin and Ava DuVernay who directed the powerful documentary 13th. “I love the way Ramsey directed the film, especially the way different scenes alluded to other things. The way she takes the angle adds so much to each scene. It’s really cool to see how much comes together and how much works goes into it.”

Johansen has no illusions about the difficulty of entering a male-dominated film industry, and her future plans include screenwriting and direction. She said, “Part of why I'm so inspired by these women is that they’re breaking through in a very male-dominated field. As a woman, it’s really important to remember what you want to say and not only what’s going to sell tickets. You need to focus on your own vision.”
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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