Kevin Martin interveiws Wally Pfister, a long time collaborator with Christopher Nolan on the Batman Reboot and Inception, about his recent turn in the director’s chair with Transcendance.
As a strong right hand to filmmaker Christopher Nolan for more than a decade, director of photography Wally Pfister, ASC, garnered considerable notice and accolades, culminating with an Oscar for his work on Nolan’s Inception. Pfister’s style is story driven yet naturalistic, even when portraying images of the fantastic, such as the memorable night exterior of illuminated bulbs in The Prestige. This approach helped ground the Batman trilogy with visual credibility, in the process raising the bar for photo-real visual effects in order to integrate them seamlessly with his work.
A graduate of the AFI’s cinematography program, Pfister’s early work included a low-budget stint for Roger Corman, and after starting his association with Nolan on Memento, he lensed several other noteworthy efforts, including Laurel Canyon and Moneyball. Pfister has also kept busy shooting commercials for Nike, PlayStation and AT&T, and pulling double-duty as director and DP on spots like Midnight Run for Got Milk? and Creed for Harley-Davidson. The Johnny Depp-starring Transcendence marks Pfister’s debut as a feature-film director. Kevin Martin talked with him about that effort, along with being a longtime proponent of originating on film.
Wally Pfister: I still love cinematography, but by the time I won the Oscar for Inception, it felt like I’d done all I wanted to achieve in that field. Having reached the top of the mountain, it was time to pursue my dreams of getting into storytelling. So I spent about three years looking at scripts till this fell into my lap. I wasn’t looking for a particular genre, but I did want a strong character study. As a cinematographer-turned-director, you want to dispel myths that you can’t direct actors or deal with the written word.
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