Nightjohn (television) A Disney Channel Premiere Film; first aired on June 1, 1996. In the 1830s, Sarny, a young, black slave girl, meets the mysterious Nightjohn who freely risks his life to give the girl a gift that white law forbids: the gift of reading and writing. Directed by Charles Burnett. Stars Beau Bridges (Clel Waller), Carl Lumbly (Nightjohn), Allison Jones (Sarny), Lorraine Toussaint (Delie). Based on the novel by Gary Paulsen. 103 min. Filmed entirely on the Rip Raps Plantation in Sumter, South Carolina.