Student Stories

Derek Johnson

Designing Success: Derek Johnson '03

For Derek Johnson ’03, the road to Hollywood started with inspiration, encouragement, and rigorous academics at Hamline.

As a producer for Mirada Studios in Los Angeles, California, Johnson has worked on a variety of projects including the movie Pacific Rim and music videos like Katy Perry’s "Roar" and "Dark Horse." In fact, the "Safe and Sound" music video he post-produced for Capital Cities won the 2013 MTV Video Music Award for best visual effects. He credits his undergraduate collaborative research at Hamline for helping set the stage for his success.

“Spending one summer working on a research grant, writing a script, and creating a short film really turned out to be a good experience in terms of long hours and a long editing process,” Johnson said. “It really laid the groundwork for what I would be doing later.” 

Though Johnson majored in theatre arts, his real interest was screenwriting. He credits Professor Bill Wallace, chair of the theatre department, with helping him pursue the area of study he was most passionate about.

“Professor Wallace was a great advisor,” Johnson said. “I was a theatre major and he let me pursue film. You can’t deny the influence that would have.”

Johnson has taken on the role of mentor himself. He has returned to campus to give advice and encouragement to Hamline students who are interested in pursuing video and audio production and editing, graphic design, and web design through Hamline’s new digital media arts major. He stays in touch with students as they encounter questions and find their path at Hamline and in their careers.   

Find out more about Hamline’s theatre arts and digital media arts majors on our website. You can also contact Hamline’s Undergraduate Admission Office to learn more about joining the Hamline community.