Stephen F. Austin State University graduate Derek Wayne Johnson is an American film director, screenwriter and film producer.
Born and raised in nearby Carthage, Texas, Derek began making short films at an early age, winning several awards while still in high school. He directed his first feature film, Within Us, in his senior year of film school at SFA.
After college he broke into the movie business in Texas and Louisiana by directing independent films such as Broken Blood and Scrape, eventually making his way to Hollywood.
In 2017, he directed and produced a documentary about Academy Award-winning director John G. Avildsen, whose credits include Rocky and The Karate Kid. The film, John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, examines Avildsen's life, career and films and features interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese, Talia Shire and Burt Reynolds, among others.
Sylvester Stallone asked Derek to direct and produce a documentary on the making of the original Rocky, currently entitled 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, due for release in 2019. The documentary will feature Sylvester Stallone narrating behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the film.
In 2017, Johnson began production on a documentary entitled STALLONE: Frank, That Is, about musician and actor Frank Stallone, brother of Sylvester Stallone, also due for release in 2019. The documentary will feature interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Billy Zane, Geraldo Rivera, Joe Mantegna and many others.
Derek cites his original VHS copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark as the reason he became a filmmaker, calling it "the holy grail" of his movie collection and the movie he studied the most while growing up.