More Joe Johnston Bios & Profiles
Biography #2Joe Johnston made his debut as a feature film director with the box office hit, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. He has also directed The Rocketeer, Jumanji and October Sky. October Sky won the Broadcast Film Critics Award as Best Family Film as well as a Humanitas Prize and a Writers Guild nomination for its screenplay.
Before establishing himself as a director, Johnston was an award-winning visual effects designer for two of the industry's most successful and standard-setting filmmakers, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
He began his career working on Star Watch, a television adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic, War of the Worlds. He then joined Lucasfilm Ltd./lndustrial Light & Magic as a special effects designer/illustrator on the groundbreaking sci-fi adventure, Star Wars. That film's enormous success brought Johnston more assignments from Lucas, including visual effects art director on the sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He is credited with the original design for the character of Yoda and for his unique concepts on some of those films' weapons and vehicles.
Johnston began his association with Spielberg as visual effects art director on the 1981 mega-h it, Raiders of the Lost Ark and shared in that film's Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. He was visual effects art director on the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; second unit director on Spielberg's sci-fi drama * batteries not included; and supervisor of the complex aerial sequences in Spielberg's 1989 drama, Always.
Prior to making Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Johnston served as production designer on the telefilm The Ewok Adventure and its sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, on which he also directed the second unit. Johnston was the associate producer of Ron Howard's Willow. He directed an episode of the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
A native of Austin, Texas, Johnston began his education with the idea of becoming an oceanographer. His interests changed after he enrolled in art classes at Pasadena City College. He later studied industrial design, graphic design and illustration at California State University at Long Beach, and then filmmaking at USC.