Stephen Johnston. Filmmaker & Community Artist
Originally from Northern Ireland, I settled in Scotland after graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee in 1999. I’ve been making Films and Art for a living ever since mainly working in and around Dundee.
About ten years ago I started working with a group called Art Angel, which profoundly influenced the way I work. A new term entered my vocabulary -“Arts Advocacy”. Since then I have mostly focused on making films with people with little or no voice in society, mainly people with mental ill heath issues and young people.
I have been involved in some really rewarding projects and, unlike most filmmakers, I’ve been lucky enough on occasion to have had only an audience of one person to please. As part of the advocacy process I get to work on bringing one persons voice, their thoughts and ideas to the screen in the way they decide. I don’t get to worry about the final film going to any Festivals or looking for distribution or even pleasing the people that have funded it. What is most important in the advocacy process is that the person with whom I have made the film feels it represents their vision and voice.
Its not always been about the end product either. Some of the most successful projects I’ve worked on have produced terrible films, just awful stuff acting and terrible dialogue. But everyone involved knows this and has enjoyed the whole experience and maybe during the process of making the film some people discover a common voice or some staff make fools of themselves in front to their group and gain the groups trust or respect. Honestly its less cheesy than it sounds and very rewarding.
Anyway filmmaking for me has been about meeting interesting people and helping to tell their stories. I’ve enjoyed listening to some incredible characters and have made some weird and wonderful stuff.