Making his dream come true in NYC
At the end of 2016, James Johnson graduated with a screen production diploma from EIT’s Ideaschool and a determination to go to New York to build his career. Now he’s living the dream.
He arrived knowing no one except for a woman he met while she was visiting her sister in Hawke’s Bay. She knew an art department coordinator and while the rest isn’t history yet, James has been PAing for television shows ever since.
“It’s not my end game, but it’s a pretty good start for me,” James says. “My next move is out of the art department and into camera somehow. I’m making some great connections on the jobs I’ve been working on so hopefully I can make it happen.”
These include Maniac, starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, and The Last O.G., starring Tracy Morgan. He’s also worked on an independent film called Inside Game.
For the 30 year old, living in New York has its surreal moments.
“I’m working right in Manhattan, which is amazing. So much stimulation and inspiration right at my doorstep. I’m working with truly inspiring people.
“It’s such a big city that you can be pretty much be whatever you want to be,” James says. “I’ve met so many people who have crazy sounding made-up creative roles.
“The sky’s the limit. There’s so much opportunity here.
“I guess the biggest drawback for me is that my visa is only for a year and it typically takes longer than that to move up in this industry.”
James is working on getting his NYC drivers’ licence as driving is a huge part of his PA role.
While he is still waiting with anticipation to apply his screen production learnings gained at EIT, James acknowledges that he understands his place in the chain of things.
“The industry tips we were taught are proving very helpful in making me a valuable member of the team and getting me noticed.”
A Hawke’s Bay boy from Napier, James came across Ideaschool serendipitously.
His partner met the then Head of Department, Claire McCormick, who told her about the screen production course.
“With all the amazing things that students were doing, it sounded like a bit of me.
“I really liked how we learnt a bit of everything, from boom operating to video and sound editing. I also appreciated the freedom we had to explore our own ideas and bring them to life.”
Tessa Tylee, Ideaschool screen production programme coordinator and tutor is delighted that James is following his dream.
“He was a good, clever, committed student and a nice person to have around. I’m not at all surprised to see it working out for him in New York.”
James Johnson on the set of American comedy television series,being filmed in New York City.