Independent movies are an important part of the entertainment circuit and the award-winning "Mommy's Box" by Johnny Greenlaw is an example of how much of an impact these often low-budget films can be. The plot--which fuses comedy and drama--focuses on a young man’s exploration of his disjointed past and possibly perilous future as he struggles with drugs amid news of the death of his mentally ill mother. Upon returning to his childhood home for the wake, he is confronted with family secrets and eventually manages to find himself. Recently the award-winning director—and Hofstra graduate--Johnny Greenlaw discussed his experiences working on this film.

Origins 

Blasting News (BN): What inspired you to become an actor or filmmaker? In fact, what came first?

Johnny Greenlaw (JG): I started acting as a kid. My mom would take me on the subway in Queens NY into Manhattan for auditions and jobs. I had always been interested in the arts as a kid; entering high school talent shows, taking drama classes. On family trips to Disney World we would bring a camera and shoot “Mission Impossible” themed videos with special effects and all! But it wasn’t until I got into college that I seriously started to pursue movie making. 

BN: What are your favorite genres to work with and why?

JG: In my mind it’s comedy, I always see things in a funny way, but somehow I always end up with very dramatic moments. I like to think of things more like life and not in a genre.

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I think that’s because in life we have funny moments, sad moments, inspirational moments. So I like to try and touch all of those things. Make an audience laugh, make them cry, make them think about their life. If I can do that I know I did my job.

BN: Do you remember how “Mommy’s Box” all started?

JG: After writing the screenplay with Caitlin Scherer, I started a Kickstarter campaign and we were able to raise our goal of $25,000 through Kickstarter. I do not think the movie would have ever been made if companies like Kickstarter did not exist. I’m truly grateful for that. After we raised the $25,000 we set out to get the final financing. The Kickstarter raise really got the ball rolling and created serious interest in getting the film made. We were able to raise the rest of the budget through private financiers.

BN: How would you describe the finished product?

JG: I could not be more pleased with the finished product. We have a very good film, with a killer soundtrack from Paulo Coelho, some really great performances from Bill Sorvino, Carly Brooke, Gina Scarda and Jen Dorcic.

It was an ambitious project but I think we pulled it off.

BN: Was it hard to wear multiple hats on the movie?

JG: At times it was hard; not so much directing and acting, but being the lead producer as well. If I’m setting up the shot as director or preparing for an emotional scene as an actor I do not want to start talking about where we order lunch from or worrying about scuffing up the wall at my friend’s house because he allowed us to shoot there. That’s when it was too much, being pulled in every direction. Luckily we had an amazing crew and on the next one I will not be the lead producer if I am directing.

Forthcoming 

BN: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

JG: I am currently in Hollywood working on “The L.A. Project”. It’s my next feature that I am writing and directing. We plan on shooting the movie in the spring of 2017 in Los Angeles.

BN: What advice would you give to aspiring actors and directors?

JG: I would tell anyone wanting to be an actor or director to learn the craft. Take classes, study, work on professional sets in any capacity and you must have perseverance. Many doors will be slammed in your face you have to get up every day and keep driving forward and never give up. I’ve been at this a while and have wanted to give it up many times but I kept on going and now I have a film being released and another on the way.