Amy Jo Johnson might not have known it at the time, but her role as the pink Power Ranger, Kimberly Hart, back in the ‘90s directly helped bring her first feature film to life.
The Space Between, which she wrote, directed and co-produced, was funded in part by fans via the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, including those who watched her on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers over two decades ago.
“The people who have been following me for the last 20 years were there for me and contributed to the campaign to help me make my feature,” Johnson said, over the phone from her home in Toronto. “All those kids (who watched the show) are now in their 20s. It’s pretty cool to have them be the audience of my film.”
The one downside: she still has to fulfill a few promises to funders. Johnson, who is also a musician, offered to write personal songs as a gift for donations of a certain amount.
“I still have to write 11 songs!” she said, with a laugh. “I don’t know how I’m going to write these songs. You have can’t just force yourself to write; you have to feel it.”
Songwriting aside, Johnson has been busy promoting her newly released production, in which she also serves as a supporting character. The film is a quirky indie flick that follows its main character, Mitch, after he discovers that his new baby is not actually his. But the infidelity of his wife, Jackie, isn’t as straightforward as it first seems.
“I think the film deals with so many heavy issues — like infertility and divorce and cutting — but I really tried to find the levity within all of that because I think that’s what we have to do in life,” Johnson said.
The film was shot in Guelph in just 17 days. Johnson — who you might also remember as Julie Emrick from the teen drama Felicity — drew from the actors she got to know while on the Canadian police drama Flashpoint to create the cast, including Michael Cram in the lead role.
“I wrote the film with Michael in mind,” she said. “As my first feature, I wanted to surround myself with people I knew would support me.”
That support has been extending to audiences too. The film is set to screen at the Whistler Film Festival this week, but it’s also been shown at festivals in China, California and in her adopted home province of Ontario.
“One of my favourite things right now is to sit in a packed audience at the festival and watch the film,” Johnson said. “It’s fun to watch people enjoy it. It’s also nice to see what’s working and what’s not working. As an indie film, sometimes they don’t get much of a life, so you have to savour it at festivals.”
Along with crowdfunding, the film was also made with support from Telefilm, a national agency that helps develop and promote Canadian film and TV. It’s just one of the reasons Johnson said this country is a nurturing place to make movies — despite the fact that so many creative types flee south of the border to pursue their dreams.
Originally from the U.S., Johnson moved to Montreal a decade ago when she was thinking about leaving the industry all together. “Then I got Flashpoint and moved to Toronto,” she said. “Toronto showed me it wasn’t acting I was (wanting to leave), it was my lifestyle in L.A. It wasn’t suited for me. I love it here, especially as a filmmaker. I find people really generous. I feel really blessed this is where I am.”
Catch The Space Between on Dec. 3 at 12 p.m. at Village 8 Cinema and on Dec. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit whistlerfilmfestival.com.