Susan Johnston, known as a Media Futurist, is President of Select Services Films, Inc. an award winning production company, has a casting division and is Founder/Director of New Media Film Festival. As a kid, Susan was on the set of the 1st Great Gatsby where she met Robert Redford while her father was handling the antique cars. From there, she worked on every production she could garnering experience in every department of filmmaking. Her first film a 35mm color film noir short Room 32 which won two awards, received distribution and was requested by Spiderman 3 for their production team.
Susan founded the critically acclaimed New Media Film Festival ® in 2009 to honor stories worth telling in the ever changing landscape of media, New Media. Legendary judges cull over the content for the annual festival in Los Angeles that offers screening, competition ($45k in awards) and distribution opportunities. Currently there are over 600 titles in their library.
Johnston has a background in the traditional film and TV industry, but has also become known in recent years as a pioneering new media producer including Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo panel for Independent Creators, Co-Producing Feature Film Dreams Awake & currently producing the Marvel Comic feature Prey: Origin of the Species. While the Industry was changing from standard def to HD Johnston produced the 1stseries for mobile, Mini-Bikers the 1st live stream talk show on HD with a Panasonic Varicam and tested the Panasonic DVX100 which led to some changes on the DVX100A and was on a committee to develop the SAG Internet contract with Pierre Debs of SAG. Member of Academy of Television, Arts & Sciences (EMMYS), SAG/AFTRA, BMI, The Caucus of New Media Writer, Directors, Producers, SET Awards Board, Computer & Animation Society Board, Professor Emeritus New Media and was Knighted in 2017.
Where did the idea for New Media Film Festival come from?
When the economic crisis hit in 2008, I started seeing many studio level friends leave Los Angeles and Productions were hard to get green lit due to the writers strike as well. I just thought, let me think about what Is needed to help all of these creatives continuing to create. Story is important to me, so the mandate, Honoring Stories Worth Telling was pivotal. Most people do not know that during High School as part of class credit, I would go to a major corporation and work in their Technology department. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was a lover of 35mm film, SD was being switched to HD so it was clear, technology would continually change. That is how what we are, an infinite catalyst for story and technology was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day is research, emails and connection, to people, ideas and places.
What’s one trend that excites you?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I love what I do.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Talk to your mother more.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
We are innately kind humans.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get up, face the day with joy, be polite and go take a walk if your don’t want to be in joy or polite.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I love lists, I love taking neon posterboard and putting ideas on it in rounded boxes and then putting them in an order of priority for what is needed now. 10. Please explain how. I get things done and I can see what is in my brain in a diagram.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I loved the idea of Art for Charity. Artists provide a piece of art for a charity auction, that artist gets the minimum bid (to be agreed upon by both parties) and the charity gets the rest. Win/Win.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This lovely couple recently had to close their store and move across country and put their store online. They sent out an email about why they had to move and that the items were online. So, I spent $100 to help support them and then gave those items to various people to brighten their day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Microsoft Outlook for emails specifically, it is a great way for us to communicate by department.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There are so many good books, I recently read The Story of Dunsany Castle, it is a beautiful castle in Ireland that is steeped in a lot of history. It says a lot about who we are as people and how things change over time and yet stay the same.
What is your favorite quote?
“There is not try, do” – Yoda