Thursday, February 22, 2024

Staying Grounded

Toledo filmmaker fights to bring his vision to life

Movies have been Matthew Deimling Johns’ passion for pretty much as long as he can remember.

“I’ve kind of been obsessed with movies since I was a kid, like five years old. I would watch movies over and over and over again, to the point where I could quote them at an annoyingly accurate rate to my parents,” Johns said.

Johns did a lot of work on story building while attending Ohio University. He’s also acted a lot. But, excuse the cliche, what he’s really wanted to do is direct. And now, he’s hoping to get that chance.

A bit of magic

The movie Johns wants to make, Grounded, is based off of his own screenplay. He began working on the basic story over nine years ago, a passion piece that he kept coming back to over the years until it was finished in 2017.

“Three high school students, wrestling with the enigma of nature versus nurture, and where they belong in the world based on their various upbringings and how they can help each other figure that out,” Johns said of the story. “And there’s a slight bit of magic to it that is slipped in later.”

Johns readily admits that the piece is inspired by his own experiences, a hodgepodge of his personal life. The main character is basically himself. The female lead is “a combination of all the failed relationships I’ve had.”

“It’s slightly narcissistic in its origins, but I guess a lot of screenwriters, from what I’ve been told, and when I’ve spoken to screenwriters at festivals, that’s kind of how it all starts. You can only write from what you know,” Johns said.

The toughest subject to write about was his story’s villain. Johns had to look outside himself for help getting under the character’s skin.

“I had to interview my sister,” he said. “She’s a doctor of psychology and she has a private practice in Switzerland. So I asked her, how much information can you give me about individuals who have gone through these types of trauma? Because I want this character to have these aspects about him, but I don’t want to fake them.”

Trailer without a movie

The ball really got rolling on Grounded last February, when Johns moved back to Toledo from Denver. He felt like he needed something to focus on. But he didn’t have the funds to make a full movie. So he decided to take it to the audience directly— he assembled actors, rearranged his screenplay a bit and made a trailer.

“These were basically shots that were very specifically chosen to exhibit main characters, the environment, but overall the theme of what Grounded will be if we raise enough money,” Johns said.

The trailer can be viewed on the Grounded website. Anyone interested can donate to make the full movie a reality. Johns is dedicated to seeing the project to completion— no matter when.

“It’s kind of something that I’m not willing to let go of. I’ll stray from it, and take on other projects, but it’s always something that I’m going to get made. Even if I’m 65 when it gets finished. Hopefully, it doesn’t take that long.”

To view the ‘Grounded’ trailer or to donate to the project, visit

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