For nearly 20 years, Johnny Derango has established himself as a talented, respected and sought-after cinematographer. In his many endeavors as a director of photography, as well as a producer, Johnny strives to tell each story truthfully, with equal parts visual grace and technical prowess. In 2018, he was featured by American Cinematographer on their coveted annual list of 12 cinematographers from the world to watch for.
Johnny graduated from Columbia College Chicago and continues on as part of the great line of Cinematographers the school has produced, which include former ASC president Michael Goi as well as Academy Award Winners Mauro Fiore and Janusz Kaminski. After college, at age 23, Johnny began his career with the 35mm feature film “In the Land of Merry Misfits,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007. Shortly thereafter, he joined Fox Television’s one-hour police drama, Hollywood Vice. Johnny has also worked for Warner Brothers, Disney, Discovery Channel, MTV among others.
In addition to his expertise as a cinematographer, Johnny has served as a producer on many of his projects. Johnny held both roles on the film Lost on Purpose (2013), which starred Jane Kaczmarek, C. Thomas Howell, James Lafferty with Dale Dickey and Octavia Spencer. The movie would team him up again with The Nelms Brothers, writers / directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms, a collaboration that would continue for years to come. “LOP” went on to win multiple film festival awards across the U.S. and Canada. Johnny’s next film with the Nelms Brothers was the comedy Waffle Street (2015), which starred Danny Glover and James Lafferty. Just as popular on the U.S. film festival circuit, this film won several awards and is now available on Netflix.
Johnny’s most recent feature, Small Town Crime (2018), is a thriller with dark humor that showcases an Academy and Emmy level cast. Ex-cop Mike Kendall (John Hawkes) discovers the body of a young woman and, in an act of self-redemption, becomes hell-bent on finding the killer. While his uncouth and quirky detective style helps break open the case, his dogged determination unwittingly puts his sister (Octavia Spencer) and best friend (Anthony Anderson) in danger. Upon its theatrical release in January 2018, the film garnered rave reviews from top critics at the New York Times, LA Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and world-renowned film critic, Leonard Maltin, who thoroughly enjoyed the film that was “…artfully lit by Johnny Derango.” The film is now available on VOD, Blu-ray, DVD and Netflix worldwide.
Alongside his feature film projects, Johnny has worked for a variety of global brands including Mandarin Oriental Hotels, Firefox, Napster, Bayer, Nissan, Southwest Airlines and Nestle. He has also shot for famed television producer / director Tommy Schlamme as well as The Player’s Tribune, a new media company founded by former professional baseball star Derek Jeter.
Most recently, Derango served as Executive Producer and Director of Photography on the independent TV series Everyone is Doing Great, created by One Tree Hill alums James Lafferty + Stephen Colletti. Johnny also produced the short film Radio 88 for Panasonic and is currently producing the comedy pilot RideSesh with actor/producer Efren Ramirez.
Johnny continues to work as a Director of Photography and Producer splitting his time between Los Angeles and Chicago. He is represented by APA.