James Chressanthis, ASC is a filmmaker who has earned a diverse range of nearly forty credits since the early 1990s, including studio motion pictures, independent features, television movies episodic drama series and documentaries. His cinematography has been nominated for an Emmy® twice: Four Minutes Roger Bannister’s quest to break the four minute mile barrier and the acclaimed mini-series Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows. He also shot critical additional 1st Unit photography on the Oscar® – winning Chicago. Other notable credits include Urban Legend, the controversial mini-series The Reagans, 3” (The Dale Earnhardt Story), The Music Man, Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime (both with Julie Andrews), Judas Kiss and Brian’s Song.

Chressanthis began his film career shooting break-through and first music videos for such artists as NWA, Dr. Dre, John Wesley Harding, Hammer, and Bobby McFerrin as well as James Brown and a Grammy® nominated clip Smells Like Nirvana for “Weird Al” Yankovic. More recently Chressanthis has been a director and cinematographer of the popular CBS dramatic series Ghost Whisperer completing five seasons and over 100 one-hour episodes. His feature film directing debut No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos about the legendary Hungarian cinematographers and the American New Wave, premiered as an official selection of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and has been seen in more than twenty-five film festivals worldwide culminating with a national broadcast on PBS and his third Emmy® Nomination: Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming.
James Chressanthis trained as a sculptor and today exhibits large mixed media digital prints and paintings when he is not shooting films.

People, Images and Movies
by James Chressanthis, ASC

When I was a boy my dream was to become either an astronaut, race car driver or cameraman. Becoming a cinematographer and director has given me a gift: global travel, a passport into experience of the world and first-hand observation and participation in American popular culture. I have had the good fortune to able to apply my skills at the highest level, like shooting important cinematography on the Oscar winning Chicago. In two Emmy nominated film biographies I was able to put the viewer inside the skins of very different characters: Judy Garland in Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows and record breaking long distance runner Roger Bannister in Four Minutes. On the CBS dramatic series Ghost Whisperer the challenge was to visualiize a metaphysical experience that is invisible to most people (and some would say non-existent) and make it believable. In my documentary No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos I was able to tell a miraculous story of fearless determination, the magic of cinematography in movies and the unbreakable friendship of two heroes on one road.

An unforeseen benefit of my occupation has been that it has allowed me to nearly achieve my other two dreams: For a year I lived in Cape Canaveral and worked at the Kennedy Space Center filming the dramatic series The Cape a fictional profile of the shuttle astronauts. I filmed the shuttle program, flew the simulator, sat inside the verticle shuttle Atlantis, walked in the footsteps of the lunar explorers, met and worked with dozens of astronauts and scientists and even shared a vodka with visiting Russian cosmonauts. One evening at dusk, I was given complete uncluttered access to “the bird” on launch pad 39A. I looked through the camera creating the point of view of what an astronaut sees when he or she arrives at dawn to begin the flight, I thought, “This a real space ship”…

Later I filmed the biography of the late Dale Earnhardt in the racing movie  “3” which was a demanding film and deeply satisfying on many levels and as with the astronauts I gained entry into the race driver’s world. The other bonus: learning to drive at speed around Lowes Speedway in Charlotte.

I have looked through the camera at some of most influential artists, personalities and scoundrels of our day, brilliant iconic actors and musicians, two presidents, a living Gandhi: Cesar Chavez, the farm workers leader and so many other passionate beautiful faces. To describe the totality of the beauty and expression I have seen or helped create is beyond my words. It’s why I make pictures and movies.