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James Salisbury

#228 James Salisbury, Class of 1985, Transfer to California Institute of the Arts

College of the Desert inspired filmmaker James Salisbury to pursue his passion for story-telling. A self-described Army brat, Salisbury was born in the Philippines, and grew up in Long Island, eventually settling in Twentynine Palms, where his father was stationed. As a young man, he struggled with school, eventually enrolling at College of the Desert in 1983 with no clear career goal in mind. At COD, the classes he took opened his mind and changed his life. Literature classes inspired James to read the classics, where he was introduced to the power of storytelling. Media classes helped James follow his passion to pursue his first documentary film.

“Professor Bill Seacrest was there for me and guided me through the film making process from start to finish,” James explained. Working part-time as a camera man at a local television studio, James edited his film at night and on weekends at the station. After two years at the College, he applied to the prestigious California Institute of the Arts and was accepted. His application was the documentary he completed at College of the Desert.

After graduating from the Film Program at Cal Arts, he worked in Los Angeles making feature films before returning to the desert to lead the creative department at a local television station. In 1998, he started his own business distributing films overseas and producing ads for local businesses.

Today, Salisbury continues at the helm of Mercury Film and TV, still aiming his camera at people, allowing them to express themselves and share their stories. In the hands of this talented documentary film director and producer, personal stories become art.

“College of the Desert was in the right place at the right time for me,” said Salisbury.