Getting his start in film as an effects technician on the original Star Wars (1977), it should come as no surprise that director Joe Johnston is generally drawn toward movies that lay it on pretty thick in the special effects and fantasy department. After all, Johnston would move on to work on some of the highest grossing effects-heavy fantasy films ever to thrill moviegoing audiences, even earning an Academy Award for best visual effects for his contributions to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
A former resident of Austin, TX, Johnston began his fruitful collaboration with George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd/Industrial Light & Magic with his work on the mythological trilogy that some sci-fi fans consider the Holy Grail of film. Defining childhoods of the 1970s and 1980s by capturing the imagination of filmgoers and giving substance to the far-off worlds that dreams are made of, Johnston refined his talents to help in capturing the larger-than-life worlds that modern special effects provided ever-growing opportunities for. Lending those same talents to the first two installments in Steven Speilberg's Indiana Jones series (Raiders and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)) in the early '80s, Johnston would play a key role in bringing the pulse-pounding cliffhangers that thrilled silent-film audiences up to date for a new generation unfamiliar with the thrills and chills experienced by their parents and grandparents.