Credit Flashpoint with re-energizing Amy Jo Johnson. The American actress–she’s currently working on getting her Canadian citizenship–had moved to Montreal and was giving up on acting for good. Then her agent called with an audition that changed and made her fall in love with acting again.
CTV’s Flashpoint ran for five seasons, garnering critical and fan acclaim and turning Johnson, Hugh Dillon, Michael Cram, Enrico Colantoni, David Paetkau and Sergio Di Zio into household names. Johnson says the experiences on Flashpoint gave her the confidence and education to head down the path she’s currently on, writing and directing her own projects. The latest, The Space Between, stars Cram and Sonya Salomaa as Mitch and Jackie, a couple who are desperately trying to get pregnant with no success. The movie recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to amass funding in advance of a spring 2015 shoot.
Before we talk about The Space Between and what’s coming up for you, let’s go back in time to Flashpoint.
Amy Jo Johnson: OK, I like going back to that.
Flashpoint was a multiple award-winning drama that really ushered in a new group of great dramas in this country. What was it like to be a part of that while it was happening?
It was amazing. I had actually just sort of quit acting before I got the show. I had moved my life to Montreal and was trying to decompress and sort of switch gears. And then I got a call for an audition for Flashpoint the same moment I learned that I was pregnant. I was like, ‘OK, I’ll go if they know I’m pregnant.’ And they were like, ‘Yup, we love her, we want her on the show.’ I came to Toronto to shoot and I got a look at the original pilot and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I just hit the jackpot. This is an amazing show.’ I fell back in love with acting again. Those five years were just amazing. I sort of found my confidence and found my new home as well. I love Toronto.
When you say you regained your confidence … does that mean you had lost it?
I think so. I was turning 35, I was living in L.A., I was single, I was starting to panic about not having a family and children yet. I found the environment in L.A. … that I was constantly comparing myself to the people around me and it was destroying me. I needed to get out of that. I thought that I didn’t like acting. I thought that I was quitting acting, but I was just letting go of that part of my life.
I constantly hear from actors and actresses about the grind that pilot season is. Now it’s a year long thing and it must be a grind.
I can’t stand it. I’m driving my agents nuts right now because I’m so focused on The Space Between. I had an audition for Suits today. Who wouldn’t go in for an audition for Suits? Guess what? This girl is not going in. [Laughs.]
Why not audition?
Right now it’s because it’s taking every second I have to get The Space Between off the ground while balancing being a mom and having the time for that. And then also, honestly, I think I’m in a transition period in my life too. Getting older, the heartache that you go through getting yourself ready, putting yourself out there that way is so draining. In your 20s it’s fine and it’s fun, but now … [Laughs.]
Well, if you’re in control of your own stuff, writing and acting in projects that you’ve created…
Exactly. That’s fun and amazing. I did Covert Affairs earlier this summer and that was really fun. They offered me the part and it was so amazing of them to do that. That was a little blessing.
Was it hard to shake off the character of Jules Callaghan after playing her for five seasons?
No, it wasn’t hard. I miss wearing the tactical uniform!
Working with the show’s creators, Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis, was kind of your eduction for what you’re doing now.
I certainly found it incredibly inspiring. They made this fantastic show and they were actors before and started writing and now they’re doing their second show. They were very, very inspiring.
OK, let’s shift gears to The Space Between. You’ve already written and directed shorts … how did the idea for this one come about?
The first short I did was called Bent and that was about lifelong friends and there was a part in Bent where this pregnant woman confessed during the story that she had slept with somebody else and the baby wasn’t her husband’s. That’s where I got the idea and the characters in The Space Between are based off of Jackie and Mitch from Bent, but it’s a different story because it’s a departure. In The Space Between they’re trying to get pregnant and can’t because of infertility on Mitch’s part. She goes and gets pregnant with somebody else who happens to be a red-headed university kid. She does this behind Mitch’s back and the beginning of the movie is him finding out the baby is not his. It’s a comedy.
Let’s talk about the Indiegogo campaign for The Space Between. How important is it for a budding writer and director like yourself to have a community that helps you create your own projects?
For me, it’s the only way at this point to create this new career for myself. It gives the film a life and a following even before it’s been made, which is such a gift. It’s nice to have the supporters, the people who have followed my career through the years, come on this journey with me as well. Through the campaign there are ways for people to become part of the film and be a part of the process. I like creating a community around the movie before it’s even made.
Is your goal to ultimately use these smaller, community funded projects as a stepping stone to bigger things?
It’s definitely a stepping stone for so many reasons. It’s proving to me that I can do this and it’s giving me practice. I have a script called Crazier Than You which is really may baby and the one that I’ll do maybe after The Space Between, but it’s the one that I wrote about my mother’s life and I can’t wait to make that film. But I want that to be a $5 million budget. So, we’re going to make my first feature and prove that I can direct and make a good little film with a much smaller budget.
Check out Johnson’s Indiegogo campaign for The Space Between and make a donation.