Filmmaker seeks support for doc on Rocky, Karate Kid director - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Local filmmaker seeks support for doc on 'Rocky,' 'Karate Kid' director

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John G. Avildsen preparing a shot with Ralph Macchio on the set of "The Karate Kid" (1984) John G. Avildsen preparing a shot with Ralph Macchio on the set of "The Karate Kid" (1984)
Director Derek Wayne Johnson at a screening for "Broken Blood" at the Northeast Film Festival 2013 (Source: Derek Wayne Johnson/Facebook) Director Derek Wayne Johnson at a screening for "Broken Blood" at the Northeast Film Festival 2013 (Source: Derek Wayne Johnson/Facebook)
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

A local filmmaker is on a mission to tell the story of the man who gave the world Rocky Balboa and Karate Kid Daniel Larusso.

Derek Wayne Johnson wants to share how John G. Avildsen changed filmmaking as we know it in a documentary titled, 'John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs.'

We know the characters and love the movies. As Johnson says Avildsen himself pointed out, you can ask anyone in the world what they think of when they hear "wax on, wax off" and they'll immediately know there that line comes from. But chances are they wouldn't be able to tell you who directed these pop culture classics. "In all of his films, they really have that underdog theme. Rocky, The Karate Kid. So he's literally the king of the underdog films."

The documentary about the Oscar-winning director is inspired by the new book, 'The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Other Underdogs,' written by producer Tom Garrett and co-producer Larry Powell. The companion book details each of Avildsen's films including behind-the-scenes stories from the set, which will also be discussed in the documentary. Avildsen himself is assisting with the project.

"They always say you don't want to meet your hero, because they might not live up to your expectations," Johnson says. "But John has surpassed my expectations. He's just a wonderful filmmaker and a wonderful guy, and I'm just very thrilled that I'm the guy that's going to be telling his story."

'Underdog' is currently in pre-production, after more than a year of research and development. Johnson says he has long admired Avildsen's work, and that admiration has only grown as he has gotten to know him over the last few years. "I have come to realize just how important his mark on the world of cinema is and how equally unknown he is to the general public," Johnson explains in the backstory on his Kickstarter page, where he is hoping to raise $20,000 to complete the film.

"We decided to launch the Kickstarter campaign to really get the community behind this project. I mean, how cool is it to donate money to a project to get your name on the credits and say, 'Hey, I helped make that film happen.' So we're looking for donations to really kick start this project." Depending on the level of support, backers are thanked with everything from special credits to VIP tickets to the film's premiere.

So far, just under $6,500 has been raised.

Johnson is a Carthage, TX native who graduated film school at Stephen F. Austin University as a cinematography major in 2006. He got his start by directing and acting in independent films in what is now known as Hollywood South. He's written and produced several films and a few documentaries and shorts, and is probably best-known so far for the 2013 drama-thriller "Broken Blood," formerly titled "Stanley DeBrock." He lives in Shreveport and films most of his projects in the area.

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