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Booking Ben Johnson

Casbah staffer chronicles Children of the Web

Ben Johnson had to weave many threads in order to finish his Webworld series.
Ben Johnson had to weave many threads in order to finish his Webworld series.

Writer, film director, and Casbah manager Ben Johnson thought the manuscript for the final installment of his Webworld trilogy, Children of the Web, was in final draft form. Then he passed it to his beta-readers last fall. “The one who I have worked with forever, Arabella Harrison, she gave me a big list of stuff,” he recalled. “Then I went back through and read it, and I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t ready to give to someone as a final approval.’”

The glaring issue Harrison caught was the introduction of a major concept near the novel’s end — a bomb drop sort of like if George Lucas had introduced the Force to the Star Wars universe around the same time that the Ewoks appeared in Return of the Jedi.

Past Event

Ben Johnson Book Release

  • Saturday, September 25, 2021, 7 p.m.
  • Verbatim Books, 3793 30th Street, San Diego

According to Johnson, Harrison told him, “I don’t know that you want to introduce something at the end of a trilogy for 40 pages and then have it be this super-important thing that was never mentioned before.” Johnson conceded this was a valid point. So, instead of wrapping everything in late 2020, Johnson didn’t finish the final edits until July of this year. He completed layout for the book in August. Now, Children of the Web is officially, 100% D-O-N-E, with a release event set for September 25 at North Park’s Verbatim Books.

Meanwhile, Johnson isn’t slowing his creative output. He has already begun work on a new novel, Second Story, which centers on a father-and-daughter cat burglar team. He has this one roughly outlined, though — a step that he regrets skipping in the past. “With the Webworld trilogy, I did not outline anything,” he explained. “So for the first one, that worked out great. The second one was a little work, and the third one was an immense amount of work to try to bring all these disparate stories that kept spreading out and spreading out. Reigning them back in, so it could become one story again. I worked on the last book for five years, mainly because the movie [Fanboy] took most of my energy. But then when I came back to reign the book in, it was about 30 beginnings and a couple of middles and no ends.”

As for Fanboy, Johnson’s rock and roll thriller stocked with San Diego musicians, the film is streaming on Amazon Prime and he’s planning more local screenings. It now also serves as a worthy blueprint for independent filmmakers seeking to craft feature length, self-funded films that won’t bankrupt them. “It was such a minimal expenditure for the film that the drive-in [screenings] really took care of all that,” he said.

With the books and a film under his belt, Johnson is now focused on crafting pitches and teleplays if opportunities come knocking. “I’m preparing myself for anything that comes around. ‘Hey, do you want to make another movie?’ I say, ‘Yes, I have this script.’ ‘You wanna make a series?’ ‘Yes, I have this ready to go.’ ‘You wanna make another book?’ ‘Yes, I’m already working on something.’ I want to just be prepared for any situation that might arise from all this.”

He also devised a rather ingenious way to expose Fanboy to national bands that are (once again) playing the Casbah. “I tell them, ‘Hey, this is about the world you live in, if you want to check out this movie.’ So, I have little stickers behind the bar with QR codes so they can QR it, and it goes right to my website where you can click a link to watch it on the web. That’s been successful, and uses that sphere of influence that they have. A couple of bands have reposted it so their fanbase sees that it exists. Grassroots is probably the most effective way for this movie to be marketed.”

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Ben Johnson had to weave many threads in order to finish his Webworld series.
Ben Johnson had to weave many threads in order to finish his Webworld series.

Writer, film director, and Casbah manager Ben Johnson thought the manuscript for the final installment of his Webworld trilogy, Children of the Web, was in final draft form. Then he passed it to his beta-readers last fall. “The one who I have worked with forever, Arabella Harrison, she gave me a big list of stuff,” he recalled. “Then I went back through and read it, and I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t ready to give to someone as a final approval.’”

The glaring issue Harrison caught was the introduction of a major concept near the novel’s end — a bomb drop sort of like if George Lucas had introduced the Force to the Star Wars universe around the same time that the Ewoks appeared in Return of the Jedi.

Past Event

Ben Johnson Book Release

  • Saturday, September 25, 2021, 7 p.m.
  • Verbatim Books, 3793 30th Street, San Diego

According to Johnson, Harrison told him, “I don’t know that you want to introduce something at the end of a trilogy for 40 pages and then have it be this super-important thing that was never mentioned before.” Johnson conceded this was a valid point. So, instead of wrapping everything in late 2020, Johnson didn’t finish the final edits until July of this year. He completed layout for the book in August. Now, Children of the Web is officially, 100% D-O-N-E, with a release event set for September 25 at North Park’s Verbatim Books.

Meanwhile, Johnson isn’t slowing his creative output. He has already begun work on a new novel, Second Story, which centers on a father-and-daughter cat burglar team. He has this one roughly outlined, though — a step that he regrets skipping in the past. “With the Webworld trilogy, I did not outline anything,” he explained. “So for the first one, that worked out great. The second one was a little work, and the third one was an immense amount of work to try to bring all these disparate stories that kept spreading out and spreading out. Reigning them back in, so it could become one story again. I worked on the last book for five years, mainly because the movie [Fanboy] took most of my energy. But then when I came back to reign the book in, it was about 30 beginnings and a couple of middles and no ends.”

As for Fanboy, Johnson’s rock and roll thriller stocked with San Diego musicians, the film is streaming on Amazon Prime and he’s planning more local screenings. It now also serves as a worthy blueprint for independent filmmakers seeking to craft feature length, self-funded films that won’t bankrupt them. “It was such a minimal expenditure for the film that the drive-in [screenings] really took care of all that,” he said.

With the books and a film under his belt, Johnson is now focused on crafting pitches and teleplays if opportunities come knocking. “I’m preparing myself for anything that comes around. ‘Hey, do you want to make another movie?’ I say, ‘Yes, I have this script.’ ‘You wanna make a series?’ ‘Yes, I have this ready to go.’ ‘You wanna make another book?’ ‘Yes, I’m already working on something.’ I want to just be prepared for any situation that might arise from all this.”

He also devised a rather ingenious way to expose Fanboy to national bands that are (once again) playing the Casbah. “I tell them, ‘Hey, this is about the world you live in, if you want to check out this movie.’ So, I have little stickers behind the bar with QR codes so they can QR it, and it goes right to my website where you can click a link to watch it on the web. That’s been successful, and uses that sphere of influence that they have. A couple of bands have reposted it so their fanbase sees that it exists. Grassroots is probably the most effective way for this movie to be marketed.”

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