Wayne Johnson is the president at Lafayette Pictures. Wayne started out his entertainment career in 1999 as a screenwriter. Mr. Johnson is an optioned screenwriter who has written on assignment for Producers, Studios, and Actors. Mr. Johnson wrote an original DC Comics Warner Brothers Picture's Green Lantern script for Sunrise Entertainment.
Wayne Johnson continues to concentrate his creative energies into screenwriting and producing screenplays for development and production for the small and big screen.
Mr. Wayne Johnson started his Lafayette Pictures production company in 2006 after deciding to venture away from screenwriting and focusing more on the film and television production. Mr. Johnson has since been the Producer of several independent films and Assistant / Associate / Development producer on several major productions.
- Life is too short, do what you love
- When you get stuck don't quit, pivot
- Get ideas out of your head and make them a reality
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the no limit selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster. Get ready for another episode.
Umar Hameed 0:35
Today I'm privileged to have Wayne Johnson, the president of Lafayette pictures. Wayne, welcome to the program. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. So Wayne in 60 seconds, tell us who you are and what you do. I am a television and film producer. I develop and produce TV shows and films. That's pretty amazing. And the question I want to ask you this because we were talking about this before, tell me what happened on July 9 1996.
Wayne Johnson 1:04
That is the day I got shot. And my heart stopped three times on the operating table. I was in surgery for 12 hours. I lost four liters of blood. And I'm pretty much the day to change my life.
Umar Hameed 1:24
I bet so tell me the circumstances of the the shooting and then we'll actually go what that really meant to you and how it changed your life.
Wayne Johnson 1:30
Just it was just a robbery, random robbery. I went to go get something to eat and carry out.
Umar Hameed 1:35
Were you robbing or you were robbed?
Wayne Johnson 1:37
No, I was robbed.
Umar Hameed 1:38
Wayne Johnson 1:40
I went to carry out to get something to eat. I remember the Sunday night. Not too many places open. It was in Baltimore City across from shock trauma. University Hospital convenient. Exactly. That's the only reason why I'm here. Now. That's the main reason why I'm alive. Because I was a block away from shock trauma.
Umar Hameed 1:59
Now what interests me about this is not that you got shot, and I'm really happy you recovered. But when we face one of those life threatening in your case, you were dead a couple of times, it allows us to change the direction of our lives. What were you doing before you got shot? And what did inspire you to do after you got shot.
Wayne Johnson 2:14
Before I shot I was pretty much just coasting, I was just working in a kitchen at a hospital delivering like food to patients and stuff I was wasn't doing what I wanted to do. After I got shot, I decided Life is too short. Let me pursue my dreams and my goals. And you know, let me change and do what I want to do, which is writing. So I decided to write a book. And what was the book about the book was pretty much about my life. And then some made up stuff as well what. Just a...
Umar Hameed 2:54
Literary license. I mean, that's what they did.
Wayne Johnson 2:56
Umar Hameed 2:57
So let me ask you, were you married at the time?
Wayne Johnson 2:59
Umar Hameed 3:00
Did you have a significant other or someone that really cared for you?
Wayne Johnson 3:03
Umar Hameed 3:04
And so what was a like, for that person watching the transformation?
Wayne Johnson 3:09
It was um, yeah, I guess it was pretty cool. Because it was, and see how happy I was at that, you know, during that time, when I was, you know, fulfilling my inner peace of my
Umar Hameed 3:24
Destiny, goals. Brilliant. And that brings you in a peace. And that brings you that connection?
Wayne Johnson 3:29
Umar Hameed 3:29
I think every single person on planet Earth has a purpose on life. The only problem is 99 point some odd percent don't know what it is. And because they don't know what it is they grab it a lot of things, or is that fight or flight, the middle of thing is freeze. So whatever the hell they're doing, they stay doing it because they can't decide what to do. So you decided to write a book, How did that go?
Wayne Johnson 3:52
Didn't go well, because it was just taken too long. Books are normally about 350. I had arranged that 350 to 400 pages. And it was just it was going but it wasn't going as fast as I wanted to go. So it was just you know it was going
Umar Hameed 4:11
So just before I let you continue on that friend of mine has written like 150 books and his advice to me was when I was writing lewmar people have a short attention span. Make your book 120 to 140 pages only. Yeah, they can pick it up at BWI. And by the time it gets San Francisco, I they throw it in the trash or they recommended to a friend. So you gave Archer so you gave up your book but then you took a did a pivot. What was the pivot?
Wayne Johnson 4:37
The pivot was instead of writing 350 pages, I decided to write a movie script, which was about 90 pages anywhere from 90 to 120 pages.
Umar Hameed 4:48
In a minute a page right on screen happy.
Wayne Johnson 4:51
Umar Hameed 4:52
Brilliant. So how, what did you do with the screenplay?
Wayne Johnson 4:56
With the screenplay I once I wrote it I am submitted the different ages. agencies, agents, managers. Well, first I got a script [garbled]
Umar Hameed 5:06
Wayne Johnson 5:07
Here back then that's what I was getting a script doc that I did that. And then I submitted a different agencies and managers to try to get represented, and try to get it out to Hollywood, per say.
Umar Hameed 5:20
So in my world, which I suck at, it's, nobody wants to represent you unless you're famous. And you can't be if you're famous, you don't need them so,
Wayne Johnson 5:31
Umar Hameed 5:32
Same thing with the agents and the Hollywood?
Wayne Johnson 5:33
same is that thing. Only difference is, if you have a good script, everybody will jump on board at that time.
Umar Hameed 5:43
Did you have a good script?
Wayne Johnson 5:45
at that time, no.
Wayne Johnson 5:48
My first one was not so good. It was it was good enough to get me a manager. So I got a manager. And with that, instead of doing my movie, he decided to pitch me to different producers.
Umar Hameed 6:03
To write their movie.
Wayne Johnson 6:03
Write damn movie. Exactly.
Umar Hameed 6:05
So I want to take a step back, because I think you said something really important there. And I'm paraphrasing here, you'd said, my script sucked. And I think that is so brilliant, because so many people wait till they get something perfect. But I think what we need to do is to just create, once you create it, you said you got to script doctor to make it better. Yeah, still wasn't good enough. But it was good enough to get you a manager and it was good enough to get you opportunities to write for other people is that and that is I think the the path to success is do?
Wayne Johnson 6:35
Yes, you got to get out your own way, you got to fit it. I tell people all the time, whenever they asked me. If whenever they people approached me about writing scripts, they say, I don't know how to do it. I don't know what to do this and that. I tell him more than anything, it's about writing, you got to get it on paper, you got to get it out your head, get it on paper. And then you can go back and format it and do whatever you need to do at that point. But get the words on paper and get it out of your head.
Umar Hameed 7:04
So this is one of my life lessons I was I was writing this marketing piece, spent a lot of time on it. And if I may say so myself, it was frickin' brilliant. I mean, totally awesome. could do. And then two or three years later, I was sorting my desk out and I came across it. And I looked at it and said, "Oh my God, hello to crap," I cannot believe that I thought this was so awesome. And that day I learned the lesson is like, okay, don't go for perfection, because you're deluding yourself anyway, yeah, just do. As soon as you get it done. You can make it better.
Wayne Johnson 7:37
And, and and when you're writing, if you're writing scripts, or books or poems or anything, whatever you're writing, they will they my teacher told me write it. And then return to it. And say, two, three weeks or a month later. Yeah, give some time. Exactly. And then you will see if it's good at that point.
Umar Hameed 8:01
So you've got a manager pitching you to filmmakers, stright scripts.
Wayne Johnson 8:06
Umar Hameed 8:06
So tell me about the first one you wrote that actually got made.
Wayne Johnson 8:10
The first one I wrote that actually got me it was a horror film. We shot that and it was a low budget independent horror film in Texas. I want to say it was a it was based on a true story. But then it wasn't. You couldn't use the whole story. So it was pretty much a script based on true story that I just added to.
Umar Hameed 8:28
Wayne Johnson 8:29
So yeah, and that was called was that The Red Oak?
Umar Hameed 8:32
The Red Oak Story?
Wayne Johnson 8:33
Umar Hameed 8:34
Don't watch it, folks. Okay, go watch it. It's gonna be brilliant. So Wayne, I really wanted to get you know, this podcast is about leadership. And sales.
Wayne Johnson 8:47
Umar Hameed 8:47
To get a movie made you need to sell a lot of people.
Wayne Johnson 8:50
Umar Hameed 8:51
Because there's different constituents with different agendas, different views, different egos. And one of the projects you did that I was pretty enthused about because I saw the movie. And it was a good movie. It was Southpaw.
Wayne Johnson 9:02
Umar Hameed 9:03
So tell me how you got associated with Southpaw and then take me through from idea to actually sitting in a movie theater eating popcorn watching this thing.
Wayne Johnson 9:11
Well, with Southpaw, that was my partner, Peter Rich, his brain.
Umar Hameed 9:16
Wayne Johnson 9:16
Oh, yes, his brainchild. came up with the idea. I'm hired Kirk servitor for my son's anarchie he wrote the script then approach Mmm. To start and rapper, yes, Eminem the rapper, Marshall Matters, yeah, to star in a script. So once you had Kirk and Eminem, you're pretty much golden.
Umar Hameed 9:40
Wayne Johnson 9:41
So then we took that into DreamWorks to Stacey at DreamWorks at the time. Stacy was the one responsible for Eight Mile.
Umar Hameed 9:51
Wayne Johnson 9:52
She did Eight Mile at that time
Umar Hameed 9:54
Wayne Johnson 9:55
So we knew taking that to her with Eminem, Kirk and a good storyline. with pretty much golden so I was pitched in a pitch meeting. It was bought in a pitch meeting.
Umar Hameed 10:06
So they purchased it.
Wayne Johnson 10:07
Yes. In the meeting. So, um, that was at DreamWorks set there for a year. We got that movie back and turn around, which means they only took a license for a year. Yeah. So it was pretty much like an option for the year nicely. Yeah, they didn't make it. We got it back with the MGM. They kept it for about a year.
Umar Hameed 10:29
This sounds like one of those Florida schemes to sell.
Wayne Johnson 10:33
Exactly. As I said, it doesn't matter if you if you get your movie sold, it really doesn't matter until it's in production.
Umar Hameed 10:40
That's what counts.
Wayne Johnson 10:41
Yeah, that's what really took
Umar Hameed 10:42
So MGM and took an option and then they did not execute?
Wayne Johnson 10:46
Exactly and then it went to the Weinstein's and then the Weinstein's got it. By that time, it was several years later. Eminem said I can't do I'm going back to the music, I'm doing the music. So we had to get somebody to replace Eminem's role, which was Jake Gyllenhaal. So you know, Jake said, Let me do it. He was just coming out for Nightcrawler. I think Jake was about 120 pounds at that ham. So nobody would like well, we believe in him, but no one else would. Yeah, nobody really believed that he could pull up in his heavyweight box and what his boxer,
Umar Hameed 11:24
Wayne Johnson 11:25
with this awesome body and able to tell these punches. When Jay came in, said let me do it. I want to do it. He fought for that role. He went to the gym worked out that six months hard, just straight working out in the gym and the ring to three times a day. And then you see the poster you see him when he can his shirt off? Yeah. So yeah, that led to that, um, we shot the movie in Pittsburgh. got, you know, Rachel McAdams and Tom Fuqua came on and directs.
Umar Hameed 12:02
Rachel McAdams. She's a fellow Canadian.
Wayne Johnson 12:04
Okay. Yeah, yep. Yeah. And then I was chatting in Pittsburgh, did the posts everything else and then had the mayor and New York had to release and, you know, everybody was talking thinking there was going to be an Oscar contender. And that's what I wanted. That was my main thing.
Umar Hameed 12:24
That would be awesome.
Wayne Johnson 12:25
But. yeah, I mean, it did. Well, we did pretty good. We're happy with it.
Umar Hameed 12:29
I went to the Red Rocks, andgot it for a buck and saw it, loved it. It was awesome.
Wayne Johnson 12:33
Yeah, I was saying it. I'm done. doing our first week of opening I went to, I want to say eight different states,
Umar Hameed 12:43
To get a vibe of the audience?
Wayne Johnson 12:44
Umar Hameed 12:44
What they thought of it.
Wayne Johnson 12:45
I've seen it with I want to say over 65 different theaters and different audiences. Just to see and I think only one time and one theater, nobody Well, from my side, nobody cried. But from the other times, that I watched it, I'm really grown people cry. Yeah. That's a good feeling. As a filmmaker, it's a wonderful feeling. When you see brings the emotions and and you see people moving in there to see and bobbing and weaving and crying and laugh and then everything watching, you know, your your piece of work.
Umar Hameed 13:22
One of the things that interests me is very much what happens in that moment of change. Like one of I went through leadership, Maryland, where they have 50 leaders from around the state. They go on a year long journey together. One of the stops was Baltimore City. And there was a guy called Andre that came up and he was telling this story. He said that he was in a gang in Baltimore initiation time came and his job was to kill someone to get in the gang. And that's what he did. And I'm not sure then or around then he got arrested got sent away. In the meantime, his younger brother is in high school and is a basketball prodigy. The local bar shouldn't let him in. But because he's the local hero,
Wayne Johnson 14:01
the hero, yup.
Umar Hameed 14:02
they let him come in and watch the games in the big screen because they want to support him. His brother comes out of jail one night when his younger brother, the basketball prodigies coming home from one of the games at the bar, this kid comes up to him on his initiation and kills him.
Wayne Johnson 14:15
Umar Hameed 14:17
And our hero, Andre loses his mind. Every night he goes out hunting for the guy that killed his brother.
Wayne Johnson 14:23
Umar Hameed 14:23
And one night he comes home around about three in the morning. And his mother is sitting in the living room in pitch darkness. soon as he comes in. She says, I know what you're doing. And she gets up and she puts her hand on his face. And as she caresses his face, she says I don't want to lose another son and goes to bed. And something in that moment, changed in his life. He left the house, went to the Inner Harbor, got his gun and he threw it into the harbor. And now he runs an organization where they do barbecues parties conflict resolution teaching gangs, how to resolve conflict without guns. And so for him, life changed in that moment. And so going back to when your life changed now Your life is at a different level, yes. There's probably another plateau to go.
Wayne Johnson 15:14
Umar Hameed 15:15
And you'll probably have dreams around that. Is there another lesson I got you shot this time. But is there another place you want to go that you're trying to figure out how to get there?
Wayne Johnson 15:25
Um, it is. I want to my whole thing right now is to have a fun a film fun for for the films that we want to shoot. Or you know, if people want to come to us and have a film idea that...
Umar Hameed 15:44
So you can greenlight stuff yourself.
Wayne Johnson 15:46
Exactly Well, we don't have to wait on the studio. I don't [garbled]
Umar Hameed 15:48
Can watch this, but you're wearing a green shirt right now.
Wayne Johnson 15:50
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's, that's my, that would be my ultimate goal, my plateau right there before I retire, is to have that fun setup for my cup, not only my company, but you know, a couple of different companies.
Umar Hameed 16:08
Wayne Johnson 16:09
We have that freedom pretty much.
Umar Hameed 16:11
What boggles my mind right now is with technology. I mean, a schlep like me can create a podcast with $500 with the gear and we're good to go.
Wayne Johnson 16:21
Well, we it's the same thing with the filming.
Umar Hameed 16:23
Yeah. Is it amaze...
Wayne Johnson 16:24
Um, we had a film two years ago at Sun was a Sundance might have been Sundance or Tribeca. The young lady shot the whole film on her iPhone. And it was a bunch of awards that year,
Umar Hameed 16:39
And it looked good.
Wayne Johnson 16:39
It look good, it look really good. This is great job because you shot she shot everything when iPhone did the edits everyday. iPhone, and it, it won a ton of awards. It was a top that year.
Umar Hameed 16:52
So what's amazing is now there's two things that I think we need as human beings. One we need the skills. Yes. And a goal.
Wayne Johnson 17:01
Umar Hameed 17:02
And then the only thing that gets in the way is our mindset.
Wayne Johnson 17:04
Yeah. And your own. Yes, your fit your own, I would say yes. Your own fear holds you back from my bunch of stuff.
Umar Hameed 17:12
Wayne Johnson 17:12
Holds you back from a bunch of stuff.
Umar Hameed 17:15
And so that's my mission is, you know, how do we teach people to be more confident, bolder, more driven? If we could help people solve that human equation? Think of how many people would make movies, cure diseases, or just cut the cord and go do whatever they desire?
Wayne Johnson 17:31
Umar Hameed 17:33
So Wayne do you have kids?
Wayne Johnson 17:35
Yes, I have two daughters.
Umar Hameed 17:37
Wayne Johnson 17:37
They are are 16 and 24.
Umar Hameed 17:41
So if you could write excellent. If you could give them some advice, three pieces of advice that would allow them to live happier, more successful lives. What would that be?
Wayne Johnson 17:53
Do whatever you want, do what's in your heart. That's, that's my main thing. Just set your goals and follow through with them. Just that was my thing. Once I got shot, I set this goal where I wanted to write a script. So I went to Barnes and Noble in the library and studied how to write scripts. Then, I wrote a script. And I decided I wanted to get it to agents and managers. So I got a list of agents and managers and sent it to them. So my thing is, do your research if you have a goal setter, go do your research, study and obtain you know, work as hard as you can to obtain your goal.
Umar Hameed 18:42
Brilliant. Because I think in this day and age, I mean back in the stone age when we were doing your script to the bookstore right now a kid can go on YouTube and watch some guy...
Wayne Johnson 18:49
Yes, right. your your your phone, your YouTube, your Google, you got everything right there. And now, back then I was snail mail, which is I would have to go to like a kinkos or staples and type up you know, print out scripts and send them in the mail to people, now you just email.
Umar Hameed 19:10
Wayne Johnson 19:10
Is so much easier now. It's it's all there. Everything's there. You just got to research it.
Umar Hameed 19:18
Wayne, thanks so much for sitting down with me.
Wayne Johnson 19:20
No problem, thank you for having me.
Umar Hameed 19:24
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.