August 1st, 2013
James Baldwin
Douglas K. Dempsey Biography

Douglas K. Dempsey

Writer / Co-Producer

Award-winning writer / filmmaker Douglas K. Dempsey is an accomplished communicator in multiple worlds: documentaries, feature films and museum media. As a student at the University of Pennsylvania, his original focus on anthropology morphed into a passion for film. His first job was for an educational film company in Princeton; he now writes, produces, shoots and edits. Additional pleasures include both evolving technology and graphic design.

As a founding partner of the independent production company, DKDMedia, Dempsey works both independently and with his wife Karen Thorsen. Their first collaboration was THE FED, a behind-the-scenes exploration of America’s financial system; it won a Cine Golden Eagle. Their second collaboration was JAMES BALDWIN: THE PRICE OF THE TICKET – now widely considered a documentary film classic.

On his own, Dempsey wins awards as well. As a narrative story editor, his credits include both award-winning feature films (for Producer Steven Haft and Director John Avildsen) and IMAX productions – among them, LIVING PLANET, FLYERS (both produced for the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum) and SHACKLETON’S ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE (winner, Best Film Award, 2005, Big Screen Association).

Dempsey has also won awards in museum media, often in collaboration with Dennis Earl Moore Productions and Christopher Chadbourne & Associates. Credits include the Mystic Aquarium’s DIVE THEATER, the Smithsonian Institution’s PRICE OF FREEDOM, and the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Nebraska. For a full decade, Dempsey was Media Content Creator / Co-Producer of DISCOVER THE REAL GEORGE WASHINGTON: two multi-media theaters, an animation film and assorted AV programs for the Museum & Education Center at George Washington’s Estate in Mount Vernon (winner, THEA Award). Subsequently, he was Content & Media Developer for the North Carolina Museum of History. His ONE SMALL CANDLE – a documentary film history of the Pilgrims and their Native neighbors, made in partnership with Karen Thorsen – has recently become a permanent installation at Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, MA.

In addition, Dempsey has been honored as a writer and editor. His scripts have been produced by CBS Mystery Theater, National Geographic and The Learning Channel. His documentary narration for KEEPERS OF EDEN, a film about the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador, was performed by Joanne Woodward. Most recently, he was Writer / Editor of BURIED PRAYERS, a feature-length film about the buried treasure of Maidanek, a Nazi death camp for Polish Jews. A story of defiance and redemption, it was narrated by artist Laurie Anderson and won Best Documentary Feature at the Cinequest Film Festival, 2010.

This year, along with the restoration and re-release of JAMES BALDWIN: THE PRICE OF THE TICKET, works-in-progress include two other collaborations with Thorsen. Like BALDWIN, both are transmedia projects: PEACEJAM: CHANGE STARTS HERE, a series of web-based shorts and longer-form docs about Nobel Laureates working with teenage activists – and THOMAS PAINE: VOICE OF

REVOLUTION, a feature-length documentary & multi-media museum exhibit about the 18th-century author of Common Sense. Designated as a “We The People” project by the National Endowment for the Humanities, PAINE was one of only three films in the nation to be awarded an NEH Scripting Grant in 2011.

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