Jan Kiesser’s career as a cinematographer includes a diverse body of work in feature films, music videos, commercials and documentaries. He developed from photographing the animated movie THE POINT, through underwater assistant cameraman on JAWS and camera operator on HEAVEN’S GATE in his journey to becoming a director of photography. Kiesser was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and at the age of five his family moved to Studio City, California where he grew up and attended UCLA. After serving in the US Army in Germany and extensive travel throughout Europe, he returned to Los Angeles with the intention of entering the motion picture industry. Early in his career he had the good fortune of working with gifted cinematographer/mentors Vilmos Zigmond, Owen Roizman, Gordon Willis, and Conrad Hall. Kiesser began his work as a Director of Photography in the early eighties.
Kiesser’s use of light, shadow, camera movement and lens choices are stimulated by his passion for story and informed by master painters that inspired him during his European travels. His body of work reveals his ability to interpret the written word into captivating visual images as in BEOWULF & GRENDEL, SUCH A LONG JOURNEY and RARE BIRDS directed by Sturla Gunnerson; each resulting in Gennie nominations for Cinematography. His relationship with director, Alan Rudolph, enabled their collaboration on the notable films CHOOSE ME, MADE IN HEAVEN and MRS. PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE – produced by Robert Altman, for whom Kiesser later photographed DR. T AND THE WOMEN. Kiesser was recognized with an Emmy nomination for his cinematography for DOOR TO DOOR and an ASC Award nomination for REEFER MADNESS, THE MOVIE MUSICAL, and received a Leo Award for Cinematography for FIDO directed by Andrew Curry. Some of his recent projects include SCOOBY DOO: IN THE BEGINNING, THE THAW and action sequences in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS TOYKO DRIFT and PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF.