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James Kniest Cinematographer

Cinematographer James Kniest thrives on the collaborative nature of filmmaking and shoots all manner of projects from feature films and television to commercials, promos, and music videos.


His recent work in features includes Warner Brothers’ Annabelle for director John R. Leonetti, which grossed $250MM worldwide; the Netflix hit Hush for director Mike Flanagan and Blumhouse Pictures; and The Bye Bye Man for director Stacy Title.


Kniest has shot commercials for clients such as Microsoft, Chevy, Levi’s and Honda, and worked with high-end directors including Angus Wall, Zach Merck, Jessica Yu, and Geordie Stephens.


Problem-solving as part of a team fuels his sense of adventure, whether working on location deep in a forest or inside a green screen studio. Kniest prides himself on utilizing cranes, dollies, Steadicam and handheld techniques to energize the camera and support the story. He further developed his lifelong passion for photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography, earning a combined BFA in Cinematography and Commercial Photography with an emphasis on underwater.


While he currently resides in the South Bay of Los Angeles, he feels most at home on an imaginative set. He is represented by DDA.

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