German-born cinematographer was raised in the American Midwest and learned his craft in American independent films of the 1970s and early 80s. Czapsky worked his way up the ranks to become an award-winning director of photography after amassing credits as a camera assistant, gaffer, key grip, and chief electrician. These early assignments encompassed projects as diverse as Larry Cohen's cult thriller "God Told Me To/Demon" (1976), John Sayles' period teen drama "Baby, It's You" (1983), and Bertrand Tavernier's "'Round Midnight" (1986). Early collaborations with such highly regarded filmmakers led to increasingly high profile assignments.
Czapsky's first credit as a director of photography was an obscure Bruce Dern-starrer about a mid-life crisis ("On the Edge" 1985) but his second, "The Thin Blue Line," was an acclaimed and (relatively) widely seen crime docudrama from oddball documentarian Errol Morris. Czapsky's work here was remarkably assured, segueing smoothly between straightforward interview footage and dreamy recreations of crime scenes shot from various angles and at different speeds. Czapsky worked on a so-so horror sequel ("Child's Play 2" 1990) before entering the big leagues with a beautifully realized fantasy--Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" (1990). He memorably rendered sunny scenes of suburban surrealism as well as those of Gothic grandiloquence. Czapsky continued to work in the latter mode on Burton's lavish sequel "Batman Returns" while opting for a more ordinary yet still luminous look for the romantic fantasy "Prelude to a Kiss" (both 1992). He reteamed with Morris for the eccentric documentary cum biopic "A Brief History of Time" (1992) and found his greatest acclaim on another Burton project, the loving biopic "Ed Wood" (1994), filmed in glorious black-and-white.
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Cinematography (Feature Film)
Film Production - Lighting/Electrical (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Feature debut, camera assistant on "God Told Me To", a cult horror film from writer-director Larry Cohen
Appeared in Nicholas Ray and Wim Wenders' "Lightning Over Water"
Served as a gaffer on John Sayles' "Baby, It's You"
Debut as a cinematographer, "On the Edge"
Served as a key grip on Sayles' "Matewan"
Provided additional photography for the remake of the noir classic "D.O.A."
First noteworthy credit as director of photography, Errol Morris acclaimed docudrama, "The Thin Blue Line"
Served as chief electrician on the NY unit of Luc Besson's "The Big Blue"
First collaboration with filmmaker Tim Burton as director of photography on "Edward Scissorhands"
Collaborated with Morris again as cinematographer for "A Brief History of Time", an unconventional biopic of physicist Stephen Hawking
Acclaimed for his black-and-white imagery in Burton's biopic "Ed Wood"