Rian Johnson

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Rian Johnson
Rian Johnson by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Rian Johnson in March 2012.
Born Rian Craig Johnson
(1973-12-17) December 17, 1973 (age 40)
Maryland, United States
Occupation Director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 2005–present
Awards Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize (2005)
Directors Guild of America Award (2013)

Rian Craig Johnson (born December 17, 1973) is an American writer and director, who won the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival with his debut feature, Brick.[1][2][3]

Johnson also directed The Brothers Bloom (2008) and Looper (2012), and three episodes of the AMC series Breaking Bad—"Fly", "Fifty-One", and "Ozymandias", the last of which is considered one of the greatest episodes of television ever aired, and the one that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan credits as the best episode of the entire series.[4]

Early life[edit]

Johnson was born in Maryland. He was raised in San Clemente, California, and attended San Clemente High School, where Brick was predominantly filmed. He then attended the University of Southern California and graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1996.[citation needed] Johnson's first short film, Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!!, which is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", was included as an easter egg on the Looper Blu-ray.[5]

Johnson's film career, as told to Robert K. Elder, author of The Film That Changed My Life, was largely inspired by Annie Hall, "a film that broke so many rules in terms of film narrative":

It moved me in a way that very few other films have moved me. That's something that, I pray to God, if I am able to keep making movies, I can only hope, twenty years down the line maybe, I'll be able to approach.[6]

In addition to his film work, Johnson is also a folk singer and banjoist. Some of his songs can be found on his website.[citation needed]

His brother is well-known music producer Aaron Johnson. His cousin, Nathan Johnson, composed the score for Brick, The Brothers Bloom and Looper. Rian and Nathan make up a folk duo called The Preserves. Other cousins, including Zachary and Marke Johnson, have been involved in design and illustration work relating to Johnson's films.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Made for just under $500,000, Brick is a crime drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Johnson has often said that he looked to the novels of Dashiell Hammett as inspiration for the film's unique use of language. While the film is classified as a film noir, Johnson claims that during production no references were made to film noir so as to focus the production away from reproducing a genre piece. Brick was released on DVD by Focus Features.[7]

The Brothers Bloom, Johnson's second film, is a con-man story starring Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz, and Rinko Kikuchi. The Brothers Bloom was released in theaters in May 2009, and later on DVD by Summit Entertainment.[8]

Looper, Johnson's third film, began shooting in Louisiana on January 24, 2011[9] and was released on September 28, 2012 by TriStar Pictures and FilmDistrict. Set in the near future, it has been described as dark science fiction, and involves hitmen whose victims are sent from the future.[10] The film starred Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.[11] The film opened the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival[11] and the 2012 Palo Alto International Film Festival.[12] Looper was a surprise success at the box office.

On June 20, 2014, Johnson was reported to be in talks to write and direct Star Wars Episode VIII and to write a treatment for Star Wars Episode IX.[13][14]

Other projects[edit]

Johnson directed the video for The Mountain Goats' song "Woke Up New" in 2006. He is a professed fan of the band, and was asked to direct the video when bandleader John Darnielle noticed a reference to them in the credits for Brick: a song is credited to "The Hospital Bombers Experience", which is a reference to the Mountain Goats song titled "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton". Johnson also directed a live performance film of the Mountain Goats' 2009 album The Life of the World to Come. The film consists of a single shot, depicting Darnielle performing the entire album on guitar and piano with minimal accompaniment. This film was screened in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon upon its completion, and was released as a limited edition DVD on Record Store Day (April 17, 2010).

Johnson has made a number of short films, some of which are available on his website. His short film from high school titled Ninja Ko is available as an easter egg on the Brick DVD. The Brothers Bloom DVD features a short, Buster Keaton-esque silent film he made in college. After working with Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Brick, the two shot a short film in Paris, France titled Escargots. In 2002, he directed a short film titled The Psychology of Dream Analysis, which is available to view on his Vimeo account.[15]

In March 2010, Johnson announced on his website that he was directing an episode of the TV series Breaking Bad for its third season. The episode, "Fly", aired on May 23, 2010. This is notable in that it is his first time professionally directing a script that he did not write, which he has stated many times that he had no interest in when it came to film.[16] Johnson later directed a second episode of the show, "Fifty-One", which aired on August 5, 2012, and earned him a Directors Guild of America Award.[17] He directed a third episode of the show, "Ozymandias," which was highly acclaimed.

Johnson has also directed the episode "Manifest Destiny" of the TV series Terriers.[18]

Filmography[edit]

Feature films
Year Title Credit Notes
1996 Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!! Director
Writer
Short film
2005 Brick Director
Writer
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Overlooked Film
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Director
Citizen Kane Award for Best Directorial Revelation
Deauville Film Festival Grand Special Prize
Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision
Nominated–BIFA Award for Best Foreign Independent Film
Nominated–Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
Nominated–Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker
Nominated–San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated–Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize
2008 The Brothers Bloom Director
Writer
2012 Looper Director
Writer
Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Original Screenplay
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Screenplay
National Board of Review Award for Best Original Screenplay
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated–Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated–Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated–Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated–Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Nominated–Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated–Saturn Award for Best Director
Nominated–Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated–Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
2017 Star Wars Episode VIII Director/
Writer
Television
Year TV series Credit Notes
2010 Terriers Director Episode:
  • "Manifest Destiny"
2010–2013 Breaking Bad Director Episodes:

Awards:
Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series

Music videos
Year Title Credit Band
2006 "Woke Up New" Director The Mountain Goats

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rian Johnson". The New York Times. 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Car Talk with Rian Johnson". The New York Times. 2009. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ "IN THE NEWS Rian Johnson". Los Angeles Times. September 7, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Breaking Bad Exclusive: Vince Gilligan Teases "Heart Attack" Conclusion, Saul Goodman Spinoff". TV Fanatic. 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Blu-ray.com". Bluray.highdefdigest.com. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  6. ^ Johnson, Rian. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p17. Print.
  7. ^ Stephen Holden (March 31, 2006). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is a Teenage Bogart at Noir High in 'Brick'". New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ Stephen Holden (May 14, 2009). "My Brother, My Partner in Crime". The New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Official Looper production blog". 
  10. ^ Fischer, Russ (May 13, 2009). "Rian Johnson lets slip a few more details about Looper". Chud.com. Retrieved May 18, 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "Looper to launch Toronto film festival". BBC News. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  12. ^ "PALO ALTO INT'L FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS SEPT. 27–30 2012". Palo Alto International Film Festival. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
  13. ^ Fleming, Jr., Mike (June 20, 2014). "‘Star Wars’ Bombshell! Rian Johnson To Write, Direct Next Two Films". Deadline.com (Deadline). Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  14. ^ Shaw, Lucas (June 20, 2014). "Rian Johnson to Write and Direct ‘Star Wars’ 8 — But Not 9". The Wrap (TheWrap.com). Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  15. ^ from rcjohnso Plus 5 years ago Not Yet Rated (2008-08-19). "Vimeo.com". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  16. ^ "Comingsoon.net". Comingsoon.net. 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  17. ^ Couch, Aaron; Kilday, Gregg (February 2, 2013). "DGA Awards: Ben Affleck Named Best Director for 'Argo'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  18. ^ "TV Squad". TV Squad. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 

External links[edit]