The first movie I ever saw was The Lion King. I will never forget it. I was … well, I can’t remember how old I was, but what I DO remember was being in awe of everything. For a long time after I saw The Lion King, I thought every movie was animated. I just thought someone drew Tom Hanks.

So, I have an imagination. My bad.

Of course, not all movies are animated. But some of the best ones are. Johnny Boston’s favorite movies are.

“Ever since I was ten and saw the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, I knew I wanted to work in animation,” he says.

Johnny was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but has called Shreveport home since he was 11. After graduating from Caddo Magnet High School, he went to Louisiana Tech to become a dentist like his Uncle Chris. Before long, Johnny realized he was passionate about something else. Or maybe his family realized it before he did.

“My family convinced me not to pursue dentistry,” Johnny says, “because they knew I didn’t really care about it.”

Instead, Johnny pursued a degree from The Digital Media Institute (DMI) here in Shreveport.

“He was always a real creative child growing up,” Johnny’s grandmother Nancy Cosse says. “In the beginning, we all saw his creativity and knew this would be the perfect thing for him.”

Johnny says the accelerated year spent at DMI really shaped his foundation. He cut his teeth (dentistry?) in the 24-hour computer lab they had at the time: sometimes, he was in there from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m.

“Canes and energy drinks got me through,” he says.

The long hours paid off. After DMI, Johnny was accepted into the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games, and Animation in Los Angeles. Gnomon is one of Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges for 2023 and is touted as the “MIT of visual effects” by Fast Company Magazine.

Johnny just graduated in September with a Bachelor of Fine Arts: 3D Generalist degree. And he loves California.

“The thing about Los Angeles is that’s where all the artists are,” he says. “So much of our culture is shaped out of what comes out of California.”

Johnny studied all aspects of 3D, but sculpting and texturing were his focus.

“I want to move towards making fantastical creatures for movies and games,” says the Gnomon grad. “My goal is to do art and get paid to do it and let that be my life.”

Since graduating, Johnny has been sending out his work to prospective employers. So far, he has found freelance work making music videos for clubs in Los Angeles. Eventually, he wants to collaborate with his old DMI friends or possibly do an animated film for the Film Prize here in Shreveport. He would also love to work for DreamWorks one day.

Johnny is grateful to have so much support from his family.

“They are always the first to see my work,” he says.

But it’s not all work for Johnny. In his downtime, he loves making music with his electric ukulele and hiking with his friends.

“All of my friends are super into music and hiking,” he says. “They have vibrant lives. They let me be a part of this,” he says.

That humility is one of the many things that makes Johnny likable. I look forward to seeing what he creates next.

Especially if it’s in 3D.