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LJ Johnson | SHOOT New Directors Showcase Event
LJ Johnson

“Breakdowns” (excerpt from TV series pilot)

LJ Johnson

Current Resident

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
I did two spec spots for YouTheFan in November of 2020, the brand loved them so much they bought them! They then hired me to direct a bunch more spots for them!

How did you get into directing?
My first foray into directing was after I spent a year pitching a TV pilot to networks and was met with a whole lot of rejection. I decided to write and direct a web series that made ME laugh. It was called Life’s Lemonade and was about adults who run a lemonade stand in Los Angeles.

What is your most recent project?
I just wrote and directed two comedy spots for Gutter Helmet. The ad agency and client let me get super weird with them, and I mean weird in the best way! It’s always super exciting when you get to make ads that look and feel like something that hasn’t been done before! I also have been shopping around my indie pilot Breakdowns, which is a mockumentary style show about a Minneapolis commercial casting office.

What is the best part of being a director?
Oh man, that’s hard. I think for me it’s world building, creating a universe that feels authentic to the viewer, even if it’s super bizarre.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
When I set my mind on something I get tunnel vision. Right now my goal is to become a sought after comedy commercial director. Of course I have ambitions to direct for film and TV, but I plan on living till 100 so I have time.

Who is your favorite director and why?
As far as feature films, I think I pull a lot of creative inspiration from Wes Anderson. I love the production design in his films as well as how he develops characters. My favorite commercial director is Bethan Seller; she works in the U.K. Look her up!

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
My favorite movie is Erin Brockovich. I just think it is such a perfectly crafted film. The script is amazing, the score, the color grade, and the editing is genius.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in the burbs’ of Minnesota before moving to LA, and then back to Minnesota to raise my kids. I have had every job under the sun in the biz. Actor, writer, producer, casting director, production designer…you name it.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
Don’t take anything for granted. Period.


Current Resident: Contact EP, Patrick Shelton, via email