Meet Jeffrey S. S. Johnson
“I created my own piece because I wanted to be on set, I wanted to be in a makeup chair. I wanted to hear someone call action. So, I made this flick.”
His face may not be immediately recognizable yet, but regular television viewers may know him as the voice of T-Mobile and countless other national advertising campaigns. Jeffrey Johnson is more than a voice, however. He is an accomplished actor, writer, musician and songwriter and now, director of his first feature film, Captain Black.
Johnson has been in love with acting since he was a child. He studied theater in college, tried his luck in Hollywood for a few years, and then returned to his native Massachusetts to play in a rock ‘n roll band. The itch to perform led him back to Los Angeles a few years later, where he continued his training and got involved in theater productions. Television and film roles followed.
“I was working a lot of voice over stuff,” says Johnson. “I got a couple of big fish campaigns in the voice over world, which were fabulous.” But the big acting role he sought remained elusive. He did the next best thing—create a project of his own.
“A lot of people talk about Cassavettes, how he would take the commercial success, take that dough and turn it into his own passion projects,” notes Johnson. “I’m not claiming to be Cassavettes. But I did tuck some money away and make a film that means something to me.”
That film is Captain Black, which asks the question: What happens when a middle-aged fanboy’s fantasy goes too far? It’s the story of what happens when Mike, a mild-mannered restaurant manager, gets captivated by a stash of comic books left behind one night by one of his employees. He begins to become obsessed with one of them, featuring the avenging hero Captain Black, and his sexy cohort, Kitt Vixxen.
“Mike doesn’t take a lot of chances in life,” explains Johnson. “It’s not that he’s lonely
but he’s alone. And he finds this character. And he respects and honors the character.”
Mike’s life gets turned upside down the night he goes to a Halloween costume party dressed as Captain Black and meets a real-life costumed Kitt Vixxen. “When he dons this costume, this ragtag, makeshift little costume that he wears to the party, he feels a strength and he feels a courage that he didn’t feel before,” says Johnson.
Mike and Kitt hit it off, but before anything can happen, she disappears into the night.
“When he finds this Captain Black, it fulfils some of his manly urges. For better or worse.
Because as good as it serves his soul, it also gets him in trouble,” states Johnson.
A chance meeting several months later, introduces Mike to Kitt Vixxen’s alter ego, the
real-life Maria. When she turns out to be nothing like the woman of his fantasies, Mike is forced to confront who he is really is and face a whole new world of challenges. Will he remain his non-confrontational self or will he find strength by following Captain’s Black credo “Be Your Own Ally”?
“What Captain Black means isn’t easily defined because I was very interested in creating more questions than answers in this piece,” says Johnson. “Meaning, it’s not a fable. There’s no moral to this story. We’re just putting a person in a situation and we all have to decide how we feel about how he gets out of it, what’s going to happen next.”
Johnson created Captain Black to force Mike into a Faustian deal. “Be careful what you wish to be. Be careful who you wish to be,” says Johnson. A statement that applies as much to Captain Black the character as it does to Johnson himself.