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`FOUR MINUTES' NOMINATED FOR EMMY, ESPY.

Byline: ALEJANDRO GUZMAN Valley News Writer

Topanga resident James Chressanthis, a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, is in the running for an Outstanding Cinematography Emmy nomination for his ESPN Original Entertainment production ``Four Minutes.''

This is his second Emmy nomination for a miniseries or movie. He was first nominated for the 2001 biography ``Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.''

``Four Minutes'' was also nominated for a 2006 ESPY Award as Best Sports Movie.

The film is about Roger Bannister, a man determined to run the first sub- four-minute mile and achieves it on May 6, 1954.

Chressanthis is excited about this particular nomination because of his own personal experiences as a long-distance runner.

``I have a connection with the character,'' Chressanthis said.

He felt he could relate to Banister and more accurately depict the runner's struggles than someone with no running experience.

Bannister was a medical student at the time of his record-breaking achievements and was one of the first to apply modern physiology to the science of running. He was ridiculed for that. Chressanthis says these are the circumstances that drew him in.

``The movie portrays a story of an individual character who found his own path and that's what appealed to me,'' Chressanthis said.

He says that when people look at the movie, they will realize the era of the story because there are no logos, sponsors or contracts. Banister did this for the pureness of achievement.

Chressanthis' other goal was to accurately capture a post-World War II Britain. Scenes look gloomy, the effects of war are still visible on people's faces.

To make sure he represented Bannister's struggles as accurately as possible, he made many suggestions during the track training sessions.

Chressanthis says that Charles Beeson, director of the movie, acknowledged his personal knowledge and gave him more leeway.

Chressanthis made sure to portray the grueling training sessions and wanted to depict the gradual improvements of Bannister's quality as a runner.

``It was so important for me to get it right: to represent just how difficult, grueling and painful running at this level is,'' Chressanthis said.

The rough races reminded him of his own running experiences training for competition.

Another technique Chressanthis implemented was the use of a new Swedish camera. He attached the camera to a stick and ran alongside the pack, filming them at the 60-second quarter-mile pace. With the height of the camera, he was able to get angles from above the pack.

He insisted that runners maintain the original pace of a 60-second quarter-mile in order to get a realistic effect.

Chressanthis recalls an enchanting moment as they re-created the last 50 yards of the race.

``The crowd was wild,'' he said. ``When we filmed this (scene) we had about 600 extras, pretty close to what actually happened.''

He says both the crowd and crew cried out of joy.

``The whole film was designed to describe that last moment,'' Chressanthis said.

Chressanthis says there is a bit of directing involved with cinematography and he had directorial involvement in some of the action scenes.

He had the track covered in cinders to get an authentic look. Then, both the director's assistant and Chressanthis put on spikes and gave the track a test run to make sure it was perfect.

He shot close-ups of the sweaty face of Jamie Maclachlan, the actor playing Bannister and tried to shoot across the stadium to get as many perspectives as possible. He shot scenes in super slow-motion and even re-created BBC footage.

Currently, Chressanthis is in his second season as director of photography and one of the directors of the CBS primetime series ``Ghost Whisperer.''

He directed one episode last year and says he is due to direct another in December or January.

``It's been fabulous,'' Chressanthis said. ``It's been a fantastic year.''

Chressanthis has been living in Topanga since 2000 and in L.A. since 1984. He is a Philadelphia native and trained as a sculptor and photographer while in college.

He earned a master of fine arts degree at Southern Illinois University. Later, he enrolled in the cinematography program at the American Film Institute and went from working on documentaries to dramatic features.

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Photo:

James Chressanthis, ASC is nominated for his second career Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for ESPN2's Original Movie, ``Four Minutes'' about the life of Roger Bannister, the first man to run under a four-minute mile.
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Title Annotation:Valley News
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 26, 2006
Words:739
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