Award Of Excellence

Director of Photography

A native of Orlando, Florida, Cinematographer John Njaga Demps, has captured images since he was a teenager. Demps and his best friend purchased  a Super 8 camera and projector from a local pawn shop for $85 and filmed an array of things but mostly girls.

After graduating from Florida A & M University Demps was selected as a Cinematography Fellow to attend the American Film Institute (AFI).in 1982.  While there he apprenticed with  two-time “Life Time Achievement” award winner (Camerimage and the American Society of Cinematographers) Laszlo Kovacs, ASC.

Demps began his professional career as a lighting technician on “Breakin “ in 1984. In 1989 he began working as a Director of  Photography the in world of music videos. During this stint he  collaborated with music video directors such as:  The Hughes Brothers, F. Gary Gray, Paul Hunter and Ice Cube, just to name a few. With over 70 music video credits to his name which include shooting videos for artist such as: NWA, Queen Latifah, Tupac Shakur, After SevenSnoop Dogg & Dr. Dre, Digital Underground, and  Jeff Bradshaw featuring Jill Scott. Most recently Demps shot the latest clip for the group Mary Mary titled “Yesterday.”

In addition to shooting major music videos, Demps has a plethora of television movies, documentary films, studio and independent features to his credit. Demps won the award for “Best Cinematography” at the 2003 Long Beach International Film Festival for his work on the Docu-Drama “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property.” an 1830’s period piece shot in 24P HD.  This marked Demps’ second distinguished “Best Cinematography” award for his expertise and ingenuity in the art of cinematography.  His first came in 2001 at the Newport Beach Film Festival for his work on “The Annihilation of Fish” a romantic comedy starring Lynn Redgrave and James Earl Jones.  Demps collaborated with acclaimed director Charles Burnett on both award-winning films.  Most recently Demps and Burnett filmed  “ Where Others Wavered” an epic story about Namibia’s fight for independence. It was shot on location in Namibia and is due to be released in 2007. The two also teamed up for an episode of the highly acclaimed PBS series “History of the Blues: Warming by the Devils Fire” Produced by Martin Scorsese. Demps has shot numerous studio and  independent features for: Fox Searchlight, Savoy Pictures, New Line Cinema, Rysher Entertainment, Miramax, Buena Vista and Warner Bros. Some of his film credits include: “Inkwell,” “The Show,” “The Walking Dead,”  “Fear of A Black Hat.” , “Phat Girlz,” and  “Clubland,” Demps has also shot an impressive list of Television Movies for NBC, USA, BET, CBS, ABC, Fox TV, Lifetime and ShowTime. Demps has also shot title and transition sequences for television series such as “South Central”, “Moesha”, “The Parker’s”, Second Time Around and most recently photographed transition shots for the series “All of Us

 “The Visit” a 2001 theatrical release starring Hill Harper, Billy Dee Williams, and Rae Dawn Chong that also aired on HBO won the “Audience Award” at the Urbanworld Film Festival and “Best Feature Film,” in the Method fest in 2000. Demps teamed with director Jordan Walker-Pearlman again for “Constellation” an independent feature that won the Audience Award at Urbanworld Film Festival in 2005 and will hit the theaters soon.

Demps persists in developing his unique eye by collaborating on numerous international documentary films that have lead him to Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Iceland and Japan. He is currently filming a documentary for Sandra Evers-Manley on a group of African-American youth in Washington DC who were taught the game of Rugby and are having life changing experiences thru the sport.

In both 2000 and 2001 he taught workshops on “Location Lighting” and co-instructed a 4-week Filmmaking course at The Maine Film & Television Workshop in Rockport, Maine.  Still photography is another form expression  for Demps not known by many. He  is currently in discussion with  filmmakers in Nigeria about shooting a major international film project.  Demps continues to add to his impressive portfolio in film and television both domestically and internationally.