Stefan Czapsky

Last updated
Stefan Czapsky
Born (1950-12-15) 15 December 1950 (age 70)
Alma mater Case Western Reserve
Columbia University
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active1986–present

Stefan Czapsky, A.S.C. (born 15 December 1950) is a German-born Ukrainian-American cinematographer, [1] [2] best known for his acclaimed collaborations with director Tim Burton on films like Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, and Ed Wood, for which he won several film critics' awards. [3]



Born in Oldenburg in West Germany to Ukrainian parents, his family emigrated to United States while he was still an infant, and then settled in Cleveland. After studying at Case Western Reserve, he enrolled in a film studies graduate program at Columbia University, and permanently relocated to New York City.


Early career

Renowned for his “broad range of styles” working alongside directors such as Tim Burton and Boaz Yakin, Czapsky has cemented himself as a chameleon of cinematography profession. Graduating from Case Western Reserve with a BFA in the humanities and an emphasis on film history and criticism, Czapsky moved to New York where he attended a graduate program at the University of Columbia. [2] There he transitioned into the film production business working positions such as “Assistant Cameraman, Gaffer, and Key Grip,” for productions such as After Hours , Matewan , and Q . His work alongside directors Scorsese and Cohen opened up the opportunity for him to shoot his first feature film, On the Edge . Shooting iconic stars such as Pam Grier and Bruce Dern, Czapsky was able to create the sense that these were not “Hollywood locations but rooms where human voices were heard.” [4]

Feature Films

The independent success of On the Edge prompted Czapsky to get a cinematographer role alongside Robert Chappell for Erroll Morris The Thin Blue Line . A film regarded as “among the most important documentaries ever made,” [5] it won various awards for Best Documentary (1988) from the New York Film Critics Circle, The National Board of Review, and several others. Czapsky, within the same year, quickly transitioned his style for Robert Bierman’s Vampire’s Kiss . Though a box office flop, the dark New York atmosphere captured by Czapsky provided the perfect backdrop for Nicolas Cage’s “outrageously unbridled performance,” [6] and helped the film garner a cult following.

Some of Czapsky's most notable work is derived from his projects alongside expressionist director Tim Burton. Their first collaboration was one of Burton's most notable works in Edward Scissorhands . Czapsky's fluidity behind the lens helped to differentiate the surrealistic suburbs from the darkness of Edwards isolation giving the film an “ethereal,” [7] atmosphere. In 1992 the duo would return to shoot Batman Returns with big names such as Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Danny DeVito. Shot on a Panavision Panaflex Gold II in 35mm. [8] Their third and final project, Ed Wood , would serve to be their most critically successful. “Exquisitely shot in black and white,” [9] the film won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, a Golden Globe for Best Makeup and Hair styling, and a Best Cinematography award from the National Society of Film Critics.  

Czapsky's departure from his work with Burton would prompt him to explore other avenues of style within film. His next cinematography project in 1996, Matilda , saw him reunite with Batman Returns villain Danny DeVito who took on the role of director. In this children's classic, Devito and Czapsky worked together to “create a world that is slightly larger and considerably funnier than life.” [10]

In the 2000s Czapsky further diversified his genre palate working with director Boaz Yakin on two action movies,  Safe and Fighting. The former starring Jason Statham and the latter Channing Tatum, the use of “graceful single shot sequences,” [11] helped to induce the stress and thrill needed in such movies.

On a much lighter note, Czapsky's work with Will Speck and Josh Gordon on the 2007 comedy Blades of Glory , was a commercial success with the film grossing $145 million in the box office off a $53 million budget. [12] Shooting comedic legends Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, this was one of Czapsky's first comedic endeavors and it paid off.

Recently, Czapsky has shifted his cinematography work to the television shooting episodes of shows such as Shades of Blue , Quantico, and God Friended Me .


Related Research Articles

<i>Batman</i> (1989 film) 1989 film directed by Tim Burton

Batman is a 1989 superhero film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters and Peter Guber, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series. The film stars Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman, alongside Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance. The film takes place early in the title character's war on crime, and depicts his conflict with the Joker.

<i>Batman Returns</i> 1992 film directed by Tim Burton

Batman Returns is a 1992 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Denise Di Novi and Burton, based on the DC Comics character Batman. The sequel to the 1989 film Batman, it is the second installment of Warner Bros. initial Batman film series, and stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman, alongside Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle and Michael Murphy. In Batman Returns, Batman faces the Penguin, who plots to kill all of Gotham City's firstborn sons, while dealing with Catwoman, who seeks vengeance against Max Shreck, a corrupt tycoon who allies with the Penguin to bring Gotham City under his control.

<i>Batman Forever</i> 1995 film directed by Joel Schumacher

Batman Forever is a 1995 American superhero film directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by Tim Burton, based on the DC Comics character Batman. The third installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series, it is a sequel to the 1992 film Batman Returns, starring Val Kilmer replacing Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman, alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell, Michael Gough, and Pat Hingle. The plot focuses on Batman trying to stop Two-Face and the Riddler in their villainous scheme to extract confidential information from all the minds in Gotham City and use it to learn Batman's identity and bring the city under their control. In the process, he gains allegiance from a young, orphaned circus acrobat named Dick Grayson, who becomes his sidekick Robin, and meets and develops feelings for psychologist Dr. Chase Meridian, which brings him to the point to decide if he will lead a normal life or if he is destined to fight crime as Batman forever.

Tim Burton American film director, producer, writer, and artist

Timothy Walter Burton is an American film director, producer, writer, and artist. Known for his gothic fantasy and horror films such as Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Frankenweenie (2012). Burton also directed the superhero films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), the sci-fi film Planet of the Apes (2001), the fantasy-drama Big Fish (2003), the musical adventure film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and the fantasy films Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016).

<i>Sleepy Hollow</i> (film) 1999 film by Tim Burton

Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American gothic supernatural horror film directed by Tim Burton. It is a film adaptation loosely based on Washington Irving's 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", and stars Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, with Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Lee and Jeffrey Jones in supporting roles. The plot follows police constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) sent from New York City to investigate a series of murders in the village of Sleepy Hollow by a mysterious Headless Horseman.

<i>Edward Scissorhands</i> 1990 American fantasy romance film by Tim Burton

Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American fantasy romance film directed by Tim Burton. It was produced by Burton and Denise Di Novi, and written by Caroline Thompson from a story by her and Burton. Johnny Depp plays an artificial humanoid named Edward, an unfinished creation who has scissor blades instead of hands. The young man is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim. Additional roles were played by Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price, and Alan Arkin.

Stan Winston American television and film special make-up creator

Stanley Winston was an American television and film special make-up effects creator, best known for his work in the Terminator series, the first three Jurassic Park films, Aliens, the first two Predator films, Inspector Gadget, Iron Man, and Edward Scissorhands. He won four Academy Awards for his work.

German Expressionism (cinema) Creative movements in Germany circa World War I

German Expressionism(cinema) consisted of a number of related creative movements in Germany before the First World War that reached a peak in Berlin during the 1920s. These developments in Germany were part of a larger Expressionist movement in north and central European culture in fields such as architecture, dance, painting, sculpture and cinema. This article deals primarily with developments in German Expressionist cinema before and immediately after World War I, approximately from 1910 to the 1930s.

Dutch angle Type of camera shot

The Dutch angle, also known as Dutch tilt, canted angle, or oblique angle, is a type of camera shot which involves setting the camera at an angle on its roll axis so that the shot is composed with vertical lines at an angle to the side of the frame, or so that the horizon line of the shot is not parallel with the bottom of the camera frame. This produces a viewpoint akin to tilting one's head to the side. In cinematography, the Dutch angle is one of many cinematic techniques often used to portray psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed. The Dutch tilt is strongly associated with the German movie scene during the expressionist movement, which used the Dutch angle extensively.

Robert W. "Bo" Welch III is an American production designer, art director, film and television director and occasional actor.

Emmanuel Lubezki Morgenstern is a Mexican cinematographer. He sometimes goes by the nickname Chivo, which means "goat" in Spanish. Lubezki has worked with many acclaimed directors, including Mike Nichols, Tim Burton, Michael Mann, Joel and Ethan Coen, and frequent collaborators Terrence Malick, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Stephen Goldblatt

Stephen Goldblatt, A.S.C., B.S.C. is a South African-born British cinematographer, noted for his work on numerous high-profile action films, including the first two entries in the Lethal Weapon series, as well as for his recent collaborations with director Mike Nichols and Tate Taylor.

David Hickman has been writing, producing and directing single documentaries and series for broadcast television in the United Kingdom and internationally for the last twenty years. He is also a cinematographer, having worked on 16 and 35mm film, as well as a variety of video and HD formats – shooting drama and non-fiction.

The fictional superhero Batman, who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics, has appeared in various films since his inception. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the character first starred in two serial films in the 1940s: Batman and Batman and Robin. The character also appeared in the 1966 film Batman, which was a feature film adaptation of the 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, who also starred in the film. Toward the end of the 1980s, the Warner Bros. studio began producing a series of feature films starring Batman, beginning with the 1989 film Batman, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton. Burton and Keaton returned for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, and in 1995, Joel Schumacher directed Batman Forever with Val Kilmer as Batman. Schumacher also directed the 1997 sequel Batman & Robin, which starred George Clooney. Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were poorly received by both critics and fans, leading to the cancellation of Batman Unchained.

Philippe Rousselot, AFC, ASC is a French cinematographer and film director best known for his wide range of work in both European and mainstream American cinema, ranging in genres from drama, to fantasy, to blockbusters. He has collaborated with directors such as Robert Redford, Neil Jordan, Stephen Frears, Tim Burton, David Yates, and Guy Ritchie. He is the recipient of three César Awards, a BAFTA, an Oscar, and is a nominee for the Palme d'Or.

Tim Burtons unrealized projects Wikipedia list article

The following is a list of unproduced Tim Burton projects, in roughly chronological order. During a career that has spanned over 30 years, Tim Burton has worked on a number of projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction.

Tim Burton filmography

Tim Burton is an American film director, producer, artist, writer, animator, puppeteer, and actor. He is known for his gothic horror and fantasy films, such as Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Dark Shadows (2012), and Frankenweenie (2012). He is also known for blockbuster films, such as the adventure-comedy Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), the superhero films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), the science fiction film Planet of the Apes (2001), the fantasy-drama Big Fish (2003), the musical adventure film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), the fantasy film Alice in Wonderland (2010), and film adaptations of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016) and Dumbo (2019).

Tim Burton Productions is a film production company, founded by Tim Burton in the late 1980s. Denise Di Novi once headed the banner from 1989 to 1996. The company was not usually credited on films directed or produced by Burton.

Gary Brian Kibbe was an American cinematographer. He was born in Los Angeles, California.

Bruce Wayne (1989 film series character) Protagonist of the 1989–97 Batman film series

Bruce Wayne, better known by his superhero alias Batman, is a fictional character from Tim Burton's 1989 superhero film series, portrayed by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney based on the DC Comics character Batman, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.


  1. "STEFAN CZAPSKY". Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  2. 1 2 "BIO". Stefan Czapsky. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  3. Davis, Clayton. "ACCA 1994". - By Clayton Davis. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  4. Ebert, Roger. "On The Edge movie review & film summary (1986) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  5. "The Thin Blue Line". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  6. Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "Vampire's Kiss". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  7. Arabian, Alex (2017-12-27). "EDWARD SCISSORHANDS: Tim Burton's Timeless Masterpiece". Film Inquiry. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  8. Batman Returns (1992) , retrieved 2020-05-01
  9. "'Ed Wood': Tim Burton's Beautiful Ode to a Fascinating Filmmaker, From One Outsider to Another • Cinephilia & Beyond". Cinephilia & Beyond. 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  10. Leydon, Joe (1996-08-05). "Matilda". Variety. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  11. Taylor, Drew (2012-04-27). "'Safe' Director Boaz Yakin On Fight Choreography, 'Batman Beyond,' And How Hard It Is To Make A Movie In The Current Climate". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  12. Blades of Glory , retrieved 2020-05-01