Broadway World – The New Media Film Festival®, created and launched in 2009, is best described by its simple slogan: “honoring stories worth telling”.
Susan Johnston has an eclectic and impressive resume. She’s an actress, singer, songwriter, casting director, producer, film studio owner, business woman, award winner, author, and founder and director of the New Media Film Festival®.
The one thing that stood out to me most about her was not something she does but something she exudes in spades: kindness.
In our recent interview, she tells me about the day she fell in love with art as a medium of expression. She had portrayed a flower in a Girl Scout Brownies play. “I had to hold this cardboard flower, and I dropped it. The whole audience laughed – and I thought that was fantastic! I had no idea that other kids would have been horrified and run off the stage!”
Her parents kept her involved in different forms of the arts throughout her childhood. In junior high school, her dad coached the football team while she was a cheerleader. “‘Always give Susan something to do so she doesn’t get in trouble.’ That’s been my life!”
As she transitioned into adulthood and entered the professional world, her diverse portfolio of work remained rooted in a single common theme: service of others. She has both written and performed songs for Greenpeace’s National Slide Tour Presentation, Wish Come True Children’s Organization, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She also garnered many prestigious awards, among them: the Los Angeles Award for Influential Business Woman and the Woman’s History Award: Dedicated Servant of Social Change. “We need to be kind to each other.” She says.
The creation of what she calls her most “ambitious and personally rewarding project” was a natural evolution in her journey: the esteemed New Media Film Festival®.
The 2008 financial crisis severely affected the United States, and Johnston saw it was especially impacting those she knew who worked in the studio system in Los Angeles. The Writer’s Guild had also been on strike, completely shutting down the entertainment industry, which was serendipitous for her.
“I felt bad that my studio level friends were having a hard time,” Johnston recalls, “because as an independent, for me, it was easier to find smaller jobs and still have work. I worked in both the studio system and as an independent, but most of my friends were completely out of work.”
“I went to bed one night and asked the universe: ‘what do I do with the wisdom and knowledge that I have today to help this community?’ I woke up the next morning with an entire schematic in my head for the New Media Film Festival®.”
The New Media Film Festival®, created and launched in 2009, is best described by its simple slogan: “honoring stories worth telling”. The innovative festival provides creators of any skill or experience with the opportunity to distribute their media to high-level executives and companies.
Open globally, the festival prides itself on its 28 categories of media and all-inclusive selections. Judges include representatives from Emmys, Marvel, HBO, BMI, PBS, BBC, OSCARS and the Grammy Awards. It is an IMDB official event with $45K in awards, and entries may be considered for 1st look deals as well as distribution.
The festival continues to innovate with many “firsts”: the first festival in the world to accept NFTS, the first festival in the world to showcase a film created entirely by AI, and more.
“Build it and they will come.” Susan smiled, “And they did.”
Each year, Johnston freshly evaluates filmmakers’ needs, and tailors the festival to help meet those requirements. One year, she noticed that most filmmakers wished to have their work go up for esteemed awards. Being a member of the Emmys Interactive board, she made a few calls and was able to expand the New Media Film Festival®. As a result, the festival is able to broadcast the entered works within the required timeframe to be eligible for an Emmy Award. “It was so easy for me to do,” she tells me, “and it means the world to someone else.”
The New Media Film Festival® is accessible on every platform (Soundcloud podcast, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest), as well as their website, newmediafilmfestival.com. You can keep up with Susan Johnston on her LinkedIn.
Everyone deserves a chance to have their story told to the world, and Susan Johnston is the reason these stories are being heard. Stories bring us together, but stories and kindness? That’s Susan’s heart: the New Media Film Festival® – a movement that has and will continue to change the world for the better, one story at a time.
by Bea Mienik