Phil Johnston
Phil Johnston.jpg
Born (1971-10-26) October 26, 1971 (age 50)
NationalityAmerican
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Columbia University (MFA)
OccupationScreenwriter, director, film producer, voice actor
Years active2004–present
Known forWreck-It Ralph
Zootopia

Philip Johnston (born October 26, 1971) is an American screenwriter, director, film producer, and voice actor best known for writing the screenplay for Walt Disney Animation Studios' Wreck-It Ralph (2012) and Zootopia (2016).[1] He returned as the writer for the Wreck-It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) and as co-director of the film (in his directorial debut) alongside Rich Moore.

Early life and career

Johnston was born in Minneapolis to Beverly & William Johnston.[2] He was raised in Neenah, Wisconsin.[3][4] His father was an Episcopal priest.[4] When he was young, he received an annual pass that allowed him free entry into the Marcus Theatres, a Wisconsin-based theater chain, through a connection at his father's church.[4] Johnston is a graduate of Neenah High School.[2]

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1994 with a degree in journalism.[5] After graduation he worked in regional news television for nine years.[3] His first job was as a weatherman in Rochester, Minnesota despite knowing nothing about meteorology.[6][3] He then worked as a bureau reporter at the Omaha, Nebraska, ABC affiliate, KETV.[7] Afterwards, he transferred to KARE station in Minneapolis.[8][4]

Johnston graduated with a MFA in film from Columbia University School of the Arts' Film Program in 2004.[9] He was classmates with Jennifer Lee, whom he later brought on to co-write Wreck-It Ralph with.[10]

His short, Flightless Birds, about a community of five trying to save their town was shot in South Dakota.[11]

After graduation, Johnston sold his first work to ABC.[12] The half hour comedy, Life is Super, is about a woman who adopts several children and subsequently turning her experience into a podcast.[12]

Johnston optioned his first feature script to ThinkFilm before it went bankrupt.[3] Jeremy Orm Is a Pervert is about the intersection of a preacher's career and his son's pornography business.[3] This was loosely based on his side hustle back in middle school selling pornographic magazines he acquired from upperclassmen to his classmates.[6] He managed to buy a pair of Air Jordans with the profits before eventually getting the operation shut down by his parents.[6]

His script for Cedar Rapids (2011) was included in the 2009 Black List (survey), a list voted by members of the entertainment industry for favorite, unproduced screenplays.[13]

Personal life

Johnston met his wife, Jill Cordes, while working as a reporter at KETV, Nebraska, where she was a morning anchor.[14]

While attending Columbia, he lived in Brooklyn with his wife, Jill.[4] He was neighbors with film critic Christy Lemire.[4]

Filmography

Feature Films

Year Title Director Writer Executive
Producer
Other Voice Role Notes
2006 The Night Listener No No No Yes Assistant to Patrick Stettner
2007 Savage Grace No No No Yes Researcher
2010 Ghosts/Aliens No Yes Yes No Television Film
2011 Cedar Rapids No Yes No No
2012 Wreck-It Ralph No Yes No Yes Surge Protector
2014 A Merry Friggin' Christmas No Yes No No Credited as "Michael Brown"
2016 Zootopia No Yes No Yes Gideon Grey / Annoyed Citizen
2017 The Brothers Grimsby No Yes Yes No
2018 Ralph Breaks the Internet Yes Yes No Yes Surge Protector Song Lyrics: "A Place Called Slaughter Race", "In This Place"; Creative Leadership

Short Films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Film Editor Other Role
2004 A Thousand Words Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2005 Two Men No No Yes No No
Rupture No No No No Yes Chet Rimson (Radio Announcer)
Flightless Birds Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2007 Bomb No No Yes No No
2013 Garlan Hulse: Where Potential Lives No No Yes No Yes Garlan Hulse

Other Credits

Year Title Role
2016 Moana Creative Leadership
2019 Frozen II
2020 Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Special Thanks

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2004 WorldFest Houston Independent Student Film & Videos - Graduate Level Student Productions A Thousand Words Won
2012 Independent Spirit Awards Best First Screenplay Cedar Rapids Nominated
2013 Annie Awards Writing in an Animated Feature Production Wreck-It Ralph Won
2017 Annie Awards Writing in an Animated Feature Production Zootopia Won [15]
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Ray Bradbury Award Zootopia Nominated
2018 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Animated Feature Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
2019 Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Animated Feature Film Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Critics' Choice Awards Best Animated Feature Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Annie Awards Annie Award for Directing in a Feature Production Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Annie Award for Music in a Feature Production Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Annie Award for Writing in a Feature Production Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Ralph Breaks the Internet Nominated

References

  1. ^ "Welcome to Zootopia at D23 EXPO!". D23. August 15, 2015. Archived from the original on September 20, 2015. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "COMMON COUNCIL MINUTES" (PDF). May 3, 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kaufman, Anthony (July 28, 2009). "Phil Johnston - 10 Screenwriters to Watch". Variety. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Breakfast All Day: Episode 018: A La Carte With Phil Johnston". bfastallday.libsyn.com. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  5. ^ "Badgerwood: Video series features UW-Madison alumni in Hollywood". news.wisc.edu. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  6. ^ a b c "Cartoon Pyramid With Phil Johnston And Mo Willems". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  7. ^ Robinson, Laurann. "Oscars Preview: What goes in to making an Oscar-winning animated film?". Omaha, Nebraska: KETV. Archived from the original on February 28, 2018. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  8. ^ "Former KARE reporter now an Oscar nominee". KARE. Retrieved 2019-12-10.
  9. ^ "'Green Book' by Writing Alumnus Peter Farrelly '86 Wins Three Golden Globes". Columbia - School of the Arts. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  10. ^ Stewart, Jill (2013-05-15). "Jennifer Lee: Disney's New Animation Queen". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  11. ^ Taylor Rick, Lynn. "Big Dreams in a small town". Rapid City Journal Media Group. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  12. ^ a b "The Bricks of Breaking In: 'Wreck-It Ralph's' Phil Johnston on Screenwriting as a Second Career". blog.finaldraft.com. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  13. ^ Finke, Nikki (2009-12-11). "The Black List 2009: Full Roster". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  14. ^ "AN ATYPICAL LIFE AFTER TV NEWS – NewsBlues.com". Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  15. ^ "44th Annie Award Nominees". International Animated Film Society. November 28, 2016. Archived from the original on July 17, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2016.