Douglas Knapp, Cinematographer and Camera Operator for John Carpenter, Dies at 70

Douglas Knapp OBIT - Publicity - H 2020
Mike Schlesinger/Courtesy of Allyson Cook

He also worked with Tim Burton and on shows including 'Murphy Brown,' 'Star Trek: Enterprise' and 'Star Trek: Voyager.'

Douglas Knapp, a longtime camera operator and cinematographer with credits including Murphy Brown, two Star Trek series and films from John Carpenter and Tim Burton, has died. He was 70.

Knapp died Monday at his home in Burbank after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his daughter, Allyson Cook, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Knapp attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts with Carpenter, and he served as the cinematographer on the writer-director's feature debut, the sci-fi comedy Dark Star (1974), and then on his follow-up, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). He also was camera operator on Carpenter's Escape From New York (1981).

Knapp spent four years on Star Trek: Enterprise and seven years on Star Trek: Voyager as camera operator and cinematographer. "You're probably thinking, 'That has to be a real drag after a while.' Well, it was a lot of fun," he told a group of San Diego filmmakers in 2016.

Knapp also was camera operator on Burton's Frankenweenie (1984) and Beetlejuice (1988) and on such other films as Back to School (1986), Coming to America (1988), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) and Driving Miss Daisy (1992).

And he worked on the 2012 short In the Picture, which featured Debbie Reynolds and was the first film in more than 50 years to be shot in the original three-panel Cinerama process.

Born on Aug. 5, 1949, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Knapp was raised in Calgary. He attended Western Canada High School in the Alberta city and graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1972.

While still in college, he worked on the Peter Bogdanovich documentary Directed by John Ford (1971); later, he was best boy on Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973).

A longtime board member of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600, Knapp received the President's Award from the Society of Camera Operators in 1994 and served on the board of the Visual Effects Society.

He taught cinematography at the Los Angeles Film School and West Los Angeles College.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his partner, Rebecca Forstadt, a voice actress; his brother, Michael; his son-in-law, Rob; and Cookie Knapp, the voice of Computer in Dark Star.