J.M. Harper is a sensitive and insightful director who brings a character-driven approach to all elements of filmmaking – writing, cinematography and editing – discovering each project from a deeply personal point-of-view. He delivers thoughtful, evocative and challenging films – from the trailblazing black creatives in the "We The Culture" series for Meta, to the profound history of rap lyrics on trial for Paramount+.
Raised in the cornfields of Rockford, Illinois, Harper discovered a love for directing while in Berlin, making experimental art films with a borrowed camera from Princeton University. He made ends meet by directing music promos for bands and editing feature documentaries before stepping into the outskirts of the advertising industry.
Harper has a unique talent for storytelling, having cut his teeth as an editor on culturally significant projects like Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma (the Sundance-winning pseudo-documentary inspired by the Black ABCs of the 1970's) and Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (an Emmy-nominated, intimate and far-reaching Kanye West documentary directed by childhood friends Coodie & Chike). Harper carried this storytelling sensibility into striking commercial work for clients like Facebook, Google, Allianz, Verizon, Gatorade, Comcast and Jack Daniels. He has been honored as part of the AdWeek Creative 100 and won laurels at Cannes Lions, Ciclope, the Clio Awards and several more. In 2020, he co-founded the non-profit Change The Lens, Inc. as a global pledge to fight for proportional representation of black filmmakers within the commercial, music video and film industries.