With a stylized and modern breakout directorial debut, Rian Johnson has become internationally known for crafting films with their own artfully designed voice and look. Keen to give every one of his stories the attention to detail it deserves, each piece in Johnson’s expanding body of work has the potential to become a modern classic.
This October, Johnson will release his sophomore feature, The Brothers Bloom, starring Oscar®-award winning actors Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz, as well as Mark Ruffalo. Johnson both wrote and directed the screenplay, which he describes as, “A fairytale about storytelling, creating worlds and romanticized notions.” Keeping within that idealistic theme, Johnson chose to have the six-minute opening sequence of The Brothers Bloom told entirely in verse. Inspired by the spirit of Ingmar Bergman films, Bloom follows two brothers, played by Brody and Ruffalo, who travel the world conning society’s elite. They lead a successful enterprise, until their last target, a beautiful heiress (Weisz), offers an unexpected, romantic twist. Although the casting process for Bloom took a year, Johnson holds nothing but appreciation for the actors in the film.
“You can take the time to figure out exactly what you want out of each character and each line,” said Johnson. “Because you know that whatever you come up with, these actors can give it to you.”
Johnson also played a role in the post-production of Bloom, taking a hand in the actual film editing. “When I’m writing a script, I am already beginning to direct the scenes in my head. But once I get to set, a switch flips and I don’t hold what I wrote sacred,” Johnson said. “But there’s a bigger disconnect between directing and post-production. You have to be brutal with your material.”
Johnson’s first feature, Brick, brought the director international acclaim. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, the dark, moody mystery was a surprise hit. The film, meticulously crafted by Johnson throughout his 20s, was funded by his family and friends. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film follows a loner high school student as he digs through his small town’s underbelly in search of the person who murdered his ex-girlfriend. Done in a modern take on classic film noir, the film was nominated for a host of awards, including several film critics associations and two Independent Spirit Awards. The film won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance.
Johnson grew up making movies with his friends. Through that early education, he developed a love for all aspects of filmmaking, as he worked as a writer, director and editor. Johnson sought formal education at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He is currently working on the script for his next movie, a science-fiction piece.