Becoming Rocky: How Sylvester Stallone Became a Star

Becoming Rocky: The Birth of a Classic

In 1976, Sylvester Stallone was a struggling actor with a big dream and the courage of his convictions. That dream became Rocky, one of the most iconic films of all time.

Using home movies shot mostly by the director John Avildsen, director and producer Derek Wayne Johnson perfectly captures the moment when Sylvester Stallone became a superstar.

40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, as it is known in the USA and Canada, or Becoming Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, as it is known everywhere else, reminds us that while Sylvester Stallone is known for a lot of things, consummate filmmaker should be first among them.

We caught up recently with Derek from East Texas. Not only does he give us insights on what it is like to work closely with Sylvester Stallone, but we learn how he too has chased his own dreams to success in Hollywood.

“I think he’s a genius and I stand by that. Because this is a guy who is not only a wonderful actor, but also wonderful writer who writes from the heart, which is very rare.” – Derek Wayne Johnson

Time Stamps:

2:02 – Introducing our guest and what we are talking about today.
4:15 – Where people can watch 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic.
5:50 – What it is like working with Sylvester Stallone.
7:20 – What the film is about, which footage was used, and who was involved in the production. 9:20 – How the idea came for making the film came about.
14:30 – Why we have a wrong impression of Sylvester Stallone based on his most famous roles.
18:51 – How Sylvester Stallone did the narrated commentary in one take.
21:01 – The story of how the ice rink scene in Rocky was shot.
26:05 – How Derek became the documentarian for Sly Stallone and his family.
28:05 – What inspired Derek to become a filmmaker.
31:05 – The family storytelling tradition that still exists in Texas.
33:00 – The story of how Derek got into documentaries.
38:00 – What Derek’s other film, Stallone: Frank, That Is, is about.
41:00 – How the Coronavirus pushed back the release of Stallone: Frank, That Is.
43:31 – What is so special about the musicians of Frank Stallone’s and the doo-wop generation.
47:00 – How the film industry is changing in the COVID-19 environment.
49:00 – What Derek’s next documentary is about.


40 Years Of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic (2020)
Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Becoming Rocky: The Birth of a Classic (2020)
Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Rocky Movies (IMDb)
Cinema 83 Entertainment
John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs (2017)
Alamo Pictures

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