SCRIPT INDUSTRY EXPERT Q&A: Meet Brad Johnson of ‘Specs & The City’

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Script brings you behind the scenes to get to know our family of contributors on a more personal level. Meet Brad Johnson, author of Specs & the City.

Brad JohnsonBrad Johnson is a screenwriter and producer whose website, ReadWatchWrite.com, is devoted to helping screenwriters by promoting the mantra “Read scripts, watch movies, and write pages.” Brad also works as a script consultant and has worked with writers of all levels to develop and grow their screenwriting toolbox.

What was the first movie you ever remember seeing or the one that made the most impact on you as a child?

Indy PosterThe first move I went to see in a theater was Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it changed everything. It was the beginning of my love of the movies (and seeing movies with an enthusiastic audience); it showed me how you can lose yourself in a great story. Anytime I think about why I do what I do, it comes back to Raiders.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

See above. Raiders of the Lost Ark is as near perfect as any film gets for me.

What word or scenario do you never want to see in a screenplay again?

I’d love to never see “starts to” in another script. “He starts to run” or “She starts to dial the phone.” It’s everywhere, and it needs to go. As for an entire scenario, can we all agree to stop having it rain every time there’s a dramatic on emotionally volatile scene? Please? Thanks!

What profession did your parents want you to have?

I feel very lucky to be able to say that my parents were supportive of me choosing whatever career path I wanted to follow. The only thing they ever wanted was for me to be happy.

What profession, other than your current one, would you like to try if you could have a do-over?

I always wanted to be an architect. I find the mixture of artistic expression and concrete science and math fascinating.

What drew you to the entertainment industry and specifically, why did you want to help writers?

I’ll admit it: I’m selfish. It feels good to help a writer grow in their craft; to learn how to better express themselves; to grow in terms of their ability to tell a compelling narrative. There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping another writer tell their story.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I’m not really much of a car guy, but I have an unexplained obsession with the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, which was made between 1957 and 1974. It’s a great looking car, and one day…I will own one.

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What do you wish you knew about the industry before you jumped in?

I spent so many years, as many writers do, feeling intimidated about the industry. It seems so secretive and mysterious. I wish I had known exactly how many wonderful people there were in the industry that sincerely want to help and build a community. If I had, I’m sure I would have jumped in much earlier.

If you could impart only one piece of knowledge onto writers, what would it be?

Know why your story needs to be told before you start writing. Knowing the ‘why’ will help you make important decisions in every phase. Outlining – first draft – and especially during rewrites. Knowing the ‘why’ won’t make cutting a scene or character out of your script any easier, but it will help you feel confident in identifying what needs to be cut.

If you could go back in time and talk to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give?

Simple. “Do it.” Take advantage of being young and jump in with both feet. That goes for any 18-year-old or young adult out there. If you have something you’re passionate about – do it.

If you have any other fun tidbits you want to add, go for it!

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