Q&A with Rachel Johnson, director of Henrietta Bulkowski

Rachel Johnson’s most recent stopmotion film, Henrietta Bulkowski, was funded through Kickstarter—all $70,000. Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks plays the voice of Henrietta Bulkowski and Academy Award Winner Chris Cooper plays the cop that stars alongside her. Johnson is the founder of Lift Animation and the director of Henrietta Bulkowski along with several other shorts.

Melissa Seymour: Hi Rachel, thanks for speaking with us today! Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Rachel Johnson: I’m a mom, businesswoman, and artist. I run a stopmotion company here in Los Angles. We produce commercials, PSA’s and are currently pitching for TV.

MS: What was is like having Kickstarter fund your film? Were you anticipating the support you received?

RJ: The Kickstarter support was overwhelming. I still get choked up thinking about it. We had no idea how 40K was going to fall magically out of the sky. 70K was a godsend. It was the validation I’d been needing for a decade.

MS: Tell us about Henrietta Bulkowski. What inspired her character and story?

RJ: It’s entirely autobiographical. I was born with one leg shorter than the other and have endured too many surgeries to count to correct it. It’s still uneven and I wear a raised sole on one foot, which has been a source of shame for me since I’ve had it. I’m a mother now and I want my daughter to be proud of herself no matter what. I know that starts with me. This film was a way for me to say, “I’m good the way I am. “ It’s for her as well. 

MS: Why is it so important to challenge society’s ideal of beauty?

RJ: Because it leaves the vast majority of us out, and no one likes to be an outsider.

MS: What’s the team that created Henrietta like? What was it like working with Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks and Academy Award Winner, Chris Cooper?

RJ: Christina and Chris were amazing folks to work with. Both patient and supremely talented. I can’t wait to share their work with the world!

MS: What are your hopes for Lift Animation?

RJ: I want Lift to have a television series in the next three years.

MS: Who is your hero/heroine?

RJ: Hands down Hillary Clinton.

MS: Anything you’d like to add?

RJ: I just feel so happy and blessed to be able to do what I love everyday.

Henrietta-Bulkowski-post-2Screen shot 2014-10-07 at 7.13.57 PM

You can check out the trailer for Henrietta Bulkowski here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/henriettabulkowski/henrietta-bulkowski