by GREG SIERING
Growing up in Brownsburg, Indiana, John Armstrong loved music and musical theater but never imagined he could grow up to do them as a job—at least not here in the Midwest. After a winding path that led him to a career as a film producer, Armstrong is dedicated to making sure that other Indiana kids can realize their dreams.
Most people know Armstrong, 43, through his work with Pigasus Pictures, which produced the 2017 film The Good Catholic in Bloomington, or from his acting in the 2019 Cardinal Stage performance of Rounding Third. His connection to the town goes back much further than that, however, with multiple stops here over the years.
Armstrong originally came to Bloomington as an Indiana University student in 1996. After struggling as an admittedly aimless student, he got a nudge from his voice coach and switched his major to vocal performance, later moving to musical theater under mentor George Pinney.
“Theater and musical theater and the performing arts, I think, saved my life,” he says. “I don’t know that I would have finished college, and God knows where I would have been after that.”
After graduating from IU, Armstrong headed to New York City for a career with musical theater productions that included Seussical, Into the Woods, Hello Dolly, and more. Over the years, he moved between the Midwest and the East Coast, driven by career opportunities and family changes, including a divorce and time spent raising his son as a single father. In 2014, he reconnected with fellow Hoosier Zach Spicer, who invited him to help produce The Good Catholic. Despite not knowing how to produce a movie, John signed on and headed back to Bloomington.
Armstrong sees his filmmaking work as a homecoming, noting that this is an ideal place to produce independent films. “The reason it’s been successful is because the community has embraced us,” he says. “If you commit to a community, the community will commit to you.”
From contributions of vehicles for The Good Catholic— John forgot to budget for transportation—to corporate support for the Bloomington Academy of Film and Theatre, Bloomington has stepped up to support Armstrong’s visions of filmmaking and educating the next generation of actors, directors, and producers.
Now married to Bloomington High School South Counselor Lacey Grant and a proud stepdad to two young boys, Armstrong says his return to Bloomington feels right. “I love to be of service. I love to help people. I love to create opportunities. I’m a Hoosier through and through.”