The votes are in and the people of Thunder Bay agree that their favourite
film at the Bay Street Film Festival was Sensitive Johnson.
Sensitive Johnson is a romantic comedy about a musician, Scott Johnson,
who lands a date with the girl of his dreams, but he gets so excited that
the “gig” is over before the performance ever starts. Plagued
by premature ejaculation whenever Scott and his new girlfriend get a little
too close, the charming and popular singer/songwriter struggles to overcome
the disastrous and humiliating sexual dysfunction. Sensitive Johnson is
about overcoming inabilities, insecurities, and intimidations when things
start to get sticky.
Having seen the film, I also agree that this is an awesome movie well
deserving of the award. I would also go so far to say that this is also
the most hilariously funny romantic comedy I have ever seen! The audience
and I laughed heartily throughout the movie. Even from a technical point
of view, this independent film deserves a salute. The acting was top notch
and believable, the story was wonderfully and sensitively written, the
cinematography, lighting, and editing was as good as anything you’d
see from the large Hollywood studios for this film genre… it’s
a brilliant piece of work. Cast and crew have done themselves proud.
When the two from Los Angeles were here for Thunder Bay’s Bay Street
Film Festival, I had the great fortune to be able to interview Wayne Hackett,
the film’s director, and actor Chris Valenti, who wrote the screenplay
and the soundtrack, in addition to playing the lead role of Scott Johnson.
Below are excerpts from that interview:
OPUS: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Director, Wayne Hackett: I’ve always
my whole life enjoyed moving people… making them laugh, making them
cry, you know, somehow getting the emotions out… and that’s
the whole reason why I got into this business.
Actor/Writer/Musician, Chris Valenti: I have
been living in L.A. for the past 10 years working as an actor, writer,
and musician, but Sensitive Johnson is the first film that I wrote and
produced. Having acted in several independent films and seeing friends
making their own independent films gave me the courage to do it myself.
I had a lot of fun acting in other films, taking on roles and other people’s
creativity and imagination… and I still do, but I really wanted
to tell my own story. I wanted to see if I could do it, and most importantly
(said with a little chuckle), guarantee myself the lead role as an actor.
Lots of other independent filmmakers do it… Woody Allen, Ed Burns,
Matt Damon they write their own lead roles.
OPUS: What can entering films in a film festival
do to help your career?
Wayne: The more people that see your film…
the more people you meet... you never know… with every festival
you enter you hope that you will hook up with someone who will help take
your film to another level. The more it’s seen, the more word that
gets out there (about the film), hopefully it will grow to be more successful…
and hopefully the same will happen in your career as your name becomes
Chris: Maybe some people will write a poem,
or paint a picture, but never want anyone to see it… they’ll
keep it to themselves; but in film, if you’re gonna spend five years
of your time, effort, focus, and several thousands of dollars to make
your art, you’re gonna want to show it. So we wanna show it (the
film) as much as possible… anywhere we can get a crowd of people
OPUS: If you could give one word of advice
to other aspiring filmmakers, what would it be?
Wayne: Go for it. If you’ve got something
that you wanna say or a story to tell, somehow find a way to do it, just
don’t give up… ‘cause there is gonna be somebody out
there that’s gonna want that story to be told as well… someone
who has the money to help finance the film.
Chris: If you wanna become a filmmaker, I
think it’s really important that you learn as much as possible about
all aspects of it. Surround yourself with knowledgeable people, but if
you are going to be the driving force, you have to know something about
everything so that you can communicate with everyone (involved in the
various aspects of the filmmaking process).
How would a filmmaker go about getting money to make your film?
Wayne: Really, there is no one way. Mostly
there is contacts, there is agents, there is friends…
Chris: …(If you just starting out)
it’s not smart to try to get investors for a film that’s going
to require a lot of high budget action shots and sequences. I financed
my film mostly out of my own pocket, but I knew my story could be shot
cheaply ‘cause it’s a simple story really... it’s a
love story… a romantic comedy. It’s not high concept. What’s
important is the interaction between people. We held fundraising parties
to raise some money for the film, and the actors agreed to defer being
paid until the film started making profits…
Wayne: …There are many different ways
to find the money to make a film.
Chris: For me, I’m more of a creative personality and the business
end of finding money for a film is not my strongest point, and it’s
probably like that for most filmmakers. So it’s important to partner
up with someone who’s strength is the business end of filmmaking
and finding money.
OPUS: Sensitive Johnson had two issues addressed
in the film… premature ejaculation and as well the film delecately
touched on homophobia. While you see homophobia being addressed more and
more in film today, it’s extremely rare to see films address premature
ejaculation, and certainly no film that I know of, except yours, evolves
around that subject. What on earth possessed you to write a film about
Chris: Well… yes it hadn’t been
done. Uh… one thing that I’ve learned as an actor in Los Angeles
is you have to something different to get attention, and um… really
that’s the name of the game most of the time. So I thought if I
went out and trashed my career before I started it (Wayne laughs in the
background) with uh… starting these rumors and acting these roles
about things that nobody would ever do to themselves… I thought
I might be noticed that way and if I become my own laughing stock and
people hear it… er uh… it was funny.
Wayne: (still laughing, knowing Chris is
Chris: It was a comedy idea. It was a skit.
I had done stand up comedy before and I had written a song about premature
ejaculation that I used in one of my acts… and people loved the
song. So I decided to kinda expand on the song… I really wrote an
entire film around a funny song.
OPUS: How do you feel the Bay Street Film
Festival measures up to other film festivals that you’ve been to?
Wayne: I think it’s the friendliest
we’ve been to.
Chris: This (festival) is great! This is
different. It’s a community rallying for a community cause (referring
to the charities the festival is supporting).
OPUS: Will you be returning to Thunder Bay
for the festival in the future?
Chris: Yeh, we’d love to!
OPUS: We look forward to seeing you again
then, and I can’t wait to see what film you will come up with next.
Thank you for taking time for our interview.
Wayne: Thank you.