Connor Johnson ’22 on the convergence of creativity

young man against a bright graffiti wall

Connor Johnson ‘22 is an actor, a music creator, and a filmmaker. He began pursuing his passion for filmmaking when he was ten years old in his hometown of Bethesda, Maryland using a first-generation iPad and his creative mind to tell stories. Since then, his camera has improved and his passion for filmmaking has only grown stronger.

Connor is pursuing a BFA in Acting in the College of Visual and Preforming Arts as well as a Public Communications Studies minor at Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Over the summer, as part of the Blackstone LaunchPad summer accelerator program, he developed a plan for Snow School Productions, a comedic, short-form video production company. While production is in many ways still just getting started, the idea that inspired Connor’s work has been a long time in the making. Since he came to Syracuse, Connor has been frustrated by the lack of interaction between the College of Visual and Preforming Arts, Newhouse School of Public Communications, and the School of Information Studies (commonly referred to as the iSchool). Connor constructed Snow School Productions as a place where these disciplines, in his mind, naturally converge: the production of media.

Snow School Productions was inspired by content from platforms such College Humor and Barstool ‘Cuse. It is meant to fill a gap in campus content for short, video-form sketch humor tailored to the Syracuse student’s experience. The videos are short enough to fit on platforms such as Tik Tok or Instagram Reels. A defining aspect of Snow School Productions is its focus on the Syracuse student, specifically. While some productions companies such as College Humor produce media for an audience generally defined by age, Snow School Productions follows somewhat in Barstool’s footsteps by creating content specified to the SU experience.

Connor has many ideas for content as his company continues to build its backlog. The first example of these ideas can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok. Future videos might feature impersonations of well-known campus figures as well as infamous campus personalities such as the Marshall Street preacher. It’s Connors hope to create content that feels relatable and personalized to students.

In realizing this project, Connor had to step a bit out of his comfort zone. Reaching out to people from three different schools, one of which he does not even belong to, in order to bring his idea into fruition meant putting himself as well as his idea up for critique. The whole process was anxiety inducing for him, but he realized that facing that anxiety would yield better results than doing nothing at all with the creative drive he found in himself. For Connor, the process of realizing Snow School Productions was exciting because it meant he was in control of the work he was doing. While working for other people can be rewarding in its own right, Connor found that the entrepreneurial aspect of his project meant that he was working towards his own goals, allowing himself to be more driven and focused than he might have been if it were someone else’s project. To his mind, entrepreneurship is intrinsically tied to artistry in that way. In his own words: “Why depend on someone else to pick you? Why wait? There’s nothing stopping you but yourself.”

Story by Ellen Jorgensen ’23, LaunchPad Orange Ambassador; photo supplied