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HomeAwardsEmmy Contender-Jim Chressanthis-DP-Ghost Whisperer

Emmy Contender-Jim Chressanthis-DP-Ghost Whisperer

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There are two worlds that DP James Chressanthis brought to life for the freshman season of CBS series Ghost Whisperer: the small town where Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character Melinda lives, loves and works as an antiques dealer; and the metaphysical world in which she makes contact with the spirits of the dead.Both aspects have their challenges, but it’s the ghost scenes that require Chressanthis to be inventive with lighting and camera techniques. “You’re trying to film something you’ve never seen. How do you photograph that?” he says.Chressanthis’ answer is to use as many in-camera and lighting techniques as possible to create believable and otherworldly effects on the tight schedule of a weekly TV series. Among them are time-lapse photography, odd frame rates, hand-cranked cameras, shutter and frame ramping, and bluescreen photography. “It’s important to use the unpredictable alchemy of the film camera to capture her metaphysical world,” says the DP.One such example was in the episode “Miss Fortune,” which Chressanthis directed, where he shot a carnival scene at a rate of one frame per second. “We really do some pretty radical stuff,” he says.The series also become more ambitious as it progressed through its first season. By the season finale, a plane crash kills 200 people who all become ghosts in need of help to cross over. Chressanthis referred to Close Encounters of the Third Kind in creating the ghost crowd scenes, employing more than 300,000 watts of light to shoot the scene with extras and additional effects. “This show is very demanding and very ambitious,” he says.The show’s other aspect, which focuses on the lead character’s life in the real world, has its own dramatic requirements. Chressanthis says he referenced Like Water for Chocolate and goes for dramatic lighting effects such as silhouettes whenever possible. “Her daytime life is very rich and beautiful, at the very same time there’s mystery and shadows in every corner,” he says.Hitting those marks on an eight-day schedule was tough, but Chressanthis says he looks forward to raising the bar even further in the second season. “We continually experiment, there’s many things we would like to try,” he says. “We found that we can do a lot more in terms of in-camera effects. It can be much more extreme.”Chressanthis’ extensive credits range from telepics The Music Man and The Reagans to horror film Urban Legend and additional photography on best picture Oscar winner Chicago.

Written by Tom McLean

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