Wally Pfister

Walter C. Pfister, ASC (born July 8, 1961) is an American cinematographer and director, who is best known for his work with Christopher Nolan. Pfister won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Inception (2010). Pfister is also known for his work on director F. Gary Gray's The Italian Job and Bennett Miller's Moneyball. Pfister made his directorial debut with Transcendence (2014), through Alcon Entertainment. He has also directed commercials and television, including episodes of Flaked and The Tick.

Wally Pfister
Born
Walter C. Pfister

July 8, 1961 (age 57)
Other namesWalter Pfister
EducationAFI Conservatory
OccupationCinematographer, director
Years active1988–present
Spouse(s)Anna Julien (1992– div 2015)
ChildrenNicholas, Claire, Mia Rose

Early life

Pfister was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the New York suburb of Irvington-on-Hudson.[1] He is the son of Patricia Ann (née Conway) and Walter J. Pfister, Jr.[2] His grandfather was the city editor of a newspaper in Wisconsin. His father, also known as Wally, was a TV news producer, who began his career with CBS-TV in Chicago in 1955. Later, as an executive at ABC News, the elder Pfister worked with David Brinkley and Peter Jennings, covering political conventions, space flights and the civil rights movement.

When Pfister was about 11, a film company shot scenes for Shamus (1973), featuring Burt Reynolds, in his Irvington neighborhood. The boy was fascinated by the crew setting up lights and cameras. Soon afterwards, he began shooting 8 mm home movies and short films. Pfister also emulated his father by shooting slides on Kodachrome film and assembling them into little shows for family and friends.

Career

After high school, Pfister found a job as a production assistant at a television station, WMDT-TV, in Salisbury, Maryland. Within a couple of months, he borrowed a CP16 news camera and began shooting little films on weekends, including a visual essay about a Victorian house. "I did these slow, little intricate moves around the architecture of the house," he recalls, "cut it together with music, and showed it to the production manager. They made me a cameraman. I shot very low budget PSAs for $125 a week."

Within a few months, Pfister found a job as a cameraman for a Washington news service, which provided film for TV stations around the country. He covered the United States Congress, the White House and breaking news from 1982 through 1985. In 1985 Pfister began a freelance career shooting documentaries for the PBS series "Frontline" and industrial videos for various Washington production companies.

In 1988, Robert Altman came to Washington to direct a mini-series for HBO called Tanner '88 (1988). Altman was looking for a real news cameraman to play that role in his show. They hired Pfister and asked him to also shoot some B-roll. When the producers saw his work, they brought Pfister on the show as the second unit cameraman. It was the first time he was exposed to acting and dramatic material.

After that experience, Pfister enrolled at the American Film Institute. During his second year, he collaborated with his classmates on a short film called "Senzeni Na?", which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1991. The film told the story of a man caught up in the apartheid struggle. Pfister drew on his documentary experience, and lit it darkly and stark, using a single light so the actor could play in and out of that source.

Janusz Kamiński had just graduated from the AFI Conservatory, and met Pfister that year. He saw Pfister's film and recruited him as a grip and electrician for various projects, including a few with Phedon Papamichael.

Roger Corman gave Pfister an opportunity to shoot pickup shots and inserts for a Papamichael film. It was the first time he shot 35 mm film. After that, Pfister handled second unit for Papamichael on Body Chemistry and also on other Corman films.

Pfister shot The Unborn, his first feature, in 1991. After that, he filmed an array of horror movies, typically on 15-day schedules.

In 1995, Papamichael asked Pfister to operate for him on Diane Keaton's Unstrung Heroes (1995).

Work with Christopher Nolan

In 1998, Pfister shot The Hi-Line in Montana in the dead of winter on a $300,000 budget. It got into the competition at Sundance Film Festival. There, he met Nolan, who had a film at Slamdance. Pfister's first collaboration with Nolan was on the neo-noir thriller Memento (2000). The success of this collaboration resulted in Pfister taking over as director of photography for Nolan's subsequent films: Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), which he partially shot with IMAX cameras, and Inception, which was shot partially in 5-perf 65 mm. He is the only cinematographer that has worked with director Christopher Nolan between Memento and Dark Knight Rises, and has served as cinematographer for all of Nolan's films except for Following (1998), for which Nolan acted as cinematographer himself, Interstellar (2014), and Dunkirk (2017), in both of which he was replaced by Hoyte van Hoytema, after Pfister got the chance to direct his first film, Transcendence. Pfister has stated that he "turned down many projects (including several Harry Potter films), in some cases just to be available for Nolan, or to stay home with my family."[3]

Pfister has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography four times, each time for a film directed by Nolan. He won an Academy Award for his work on Inception at the 83rd Academy Awards. He also has been nominated three times for the American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Inception, winning for the latter, in 2011.

Directorial work

Pfister made his directorial debut with the science fiction thriller Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp, which was released by Warner Bros. on April 18, 2014.[4] The cast also featured Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Rebecca Hall, and Paul Bettany.[5]

Personal life

Pfister currently resides in Los Angeles, California and has three children: Nick, actress Claire Julien, and Mia.[6]

He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) since 2002, and the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC) since 2011.

The Batman Begins video game includes a character named "Walter Pfister".

Filmography

As cinematographer

Year Film Director Other notes
1993 Stepmonster Jeremy Stanford
1995 The Granny Luca Bercovici
1998 Rhapsody In Bloom Craig Saavedra
2000 Memento Christopher Nolan Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
2001 Rustin Rick Johnson
Scotland, PA Billy Morrissette
2002 Insomnia Christopher Nolan
Laurel Canyon Lisa Cholodenko
2003 The Italian Job F. Gary Gray
2005 Slow Burn Wayne Beach
Batman Begins Christopher Nolan Nominated – Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Cinematography
2006 The Prestige Nominated – Academy Award for Best Cinematography
2008 The Dark Knight Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Cinematography
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
2010 Inception Academy Award for Best Cinematography
American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Cinematography
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography
Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography
2011 Moneyball Bennett Miller
2012 The Dark Knight Rises Christopher Nolan
Marley Kevin MacDonald
Other works

Awards and nominations

Academy Award for Best Cinematography

American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases

BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography

Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography

Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography

References

  1. ^ "Wally Pfister, ASC". Cameraguild. Archived from the original on 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  2. ^ "Sheboygan Press Newspaper Archives, Jun 8, 1957, p. 7". 8 June 1957.
  3. ^ "Christopher Nolan: The Movies. The Memories. – Part 2: Wally Pfister on Memento". Empire. July 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  4. ^ McClintock, Pamela (March 1, 2013). "Johnny Depp's 'Transcendence' to Hit Theaters in April 2014". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  5. ^ "Cillian Murphy Reuniting with Wally Pfister for 'Transcendence' Sci-Fi".
  6. ^ "Inception" winning Best Cinematography on YouTube

External links

Academy Award for Best Cinematography

The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is an Academy Award awarded each year to a cinematographer for work on one particular motion picture.

American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases

The following is a list of those who have won the American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatrical Releases. The award is given by the American Society of Cinematographers.

BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography

This is a list of winners and nominees for the BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, which is presented to cinematographers, given out by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts since 1963.

Cinematographer

A cinematographer or director of photography (sometimes shortened to DP or DOP) is the chief over the camera and light crews working on a film, television production or other live action piece and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography.

The cinematographer selects the camera, film stock, lenses, filters, etc., to realize the scene in accordance with the intentions of the director. Relations between the cinematographer and director vary; in some instances the director will allow the cinematographer complete independence; in others, the director allows little to none, even going so far as to specify exact camera placement and lens selection. Such a level of involvement is not common once the director and cinematographer have become comfortable with each other; the director will typically convey to the cinematographer what is wanted from a scene visually, and allow the cinematographer latitude in achieving that effect.

Several American cinematographers have become directors, including Barry Sonnenfeld, originally the Coen brothers' DP; Jan de Bont, cinematographer on films as Die Hard and Basic Instinct, directed Speed and Twister. In 2014, Wally Pfister, cinematographer on Christopher Nolan's three Batman films, made his directorial debut with Transcendence; whilst British cinematographers Jack Cardiff and Freddie Francis regularly moved between the two positions.

Claire Julien

Claire Alys Pfister (born January 11, 1995), known professionally as Claire Julien, is an American actress. She is known for her role as Chloe Tainer in Sofia Coppola's crime film The Bling Ring (2013).

Julien was born on January 11, 1995 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Anna Julien and Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. Before landing the role of Chloe in The Bling Ring, Julien's only film credit was a minor part in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), for which her father was the director of photography.

Julien attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), from which she graduated in 2016.

Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards 2008

The 14th Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards honoring the best in film for 2008 were announced on December 17, 2008. These awards "recognizing extraordinary accomplishment in film" are presented annually by the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association (DFWFCA), based in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex region of Texas. The organization, founded in 1990, includes 32 film critics for print, radio, television, and internet publications based in north Texas. The Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association began presenting its annual awards list in 1991.Unlike most years, no one film dominated the 2008 DFWFCA awards. Two films led the pack with just two wins each: Slumdog Millionaire took top honors in the Best Picture and Best Director (Danny Boyle) categories while The Dark Knight took Best Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger) and Best Cinematography (Wally Pfister).Along with the 11 "best of" category awards, the group also presented the Russell Smith Award to Wendy and Lucy as the "best low-budget or cutting-edge independent film" of the year. The award is named in honor of late Dallas Morning News film critic Russell Smith.

Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematography

The Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematography is an award given by the Florida Film Critics Circle to honor the finest achievements in filmmaking.

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards 2010

The 15th Florida Film Critics Circle Awards were given on December 20, 2010.

Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography

The Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Screenplay is an annual award given by the Houston Film Critics Society.

Houston Film Critics Society Awards 2010

The 4th Houston Film Critics Society Awards were presented on December 18, 2010. These awards for "extraordinary accomplishment in film" are presented annually by the Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS) based in Houston, Texas. The organization, founded in 2007, includes 22 film critics for print, radio, television, and internet publications in the greater Houston area. The awards are co-sponsored by the Houston Film Commission, Southwest Alternate Media Project, Women in Film and Television/Houston, WorldFest, and the Houston Cinema Arts Society.The nominations for the 2010 awards were announced on December 12, 2010. Eligible films do not need to have played or opened in a Houston film theater prior to the nomination deadline, merely made available to the HFCS membership at a screening or on DVD. Along with the 13 "best of" category awards, this year also saw the introduction of a new category for "Worst Movies of the Year". The Social Network, True Grit, and 127 Hours each received six nominations, all including the Best Picture, Actor, Direction, and Original Score categories.The Social Network was the HFCS's most awarded film of 2010 taking top honors in the Best Picture, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), and Best Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) categories. Inception was the only other film to garner multiple awards, winning both the Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer) and Best Cinematography (Wally Pfister) prizes. The other acting awards went to Natalie Portman as Best Actress for Black Swan, Hailee Steinfeld as Best Supporting Actress for True Grit, and Christian Bale as Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter. The remaining film honors went to Toy Story 3 as Best Animated Film, Restrepo as Best Documentary, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as Best Foreign Language Film. "We Are Sex Bob-Omb" by Beck from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was named the Best Original Song. The HFCS's first-ever award for "Worst Picture" was given to Jonah Hex starring Josh Brolin.In addition to the category awards, the HFCS presented their annual Lifetime Achievement Award to Sissy Spacek and its Humanitarian Award to George Clooney. Clooney was selected for "selflessly using his celebrity for greater good". The HFCS award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema awards were presented to Charles Dove, director of the Rice University Media Center, and Hector Luna, the founder and editor of C-47 Houston.

List of accolades received by Inception

Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film directed and written by Christopher Nolan. Released to critical and commercial success, the film was named one of the ten best films of the year by National Board of Review and American Film Institute.

Inception won the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects, and was nominated for a total of eight, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. With four wins, the film tied The King's Speech—Best Picture winner—for most wins of the ceremony.

List of accolades received by The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed, produced, and co-written by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins and the second installment in Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. In the film, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) forms an alliance with Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City, but are thwarted by a criminal mastermind known as the Joker (Heath Ledger) who seeks to undermine Batman's influence and create chaos in Gotham. The film also stars Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne's butler (Alfred Pennyworth), Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. It was released in Australia on July 16, 2008.

The Dark Knight grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, becoming the fourth film in history to gross more than $1 billion worldwide and the highest-grossing film of 2008. It is currently the 32nd highest-grossing film of all time. The Dark Knight also received a high critical acclaim, accumulating an approval rating of 94% on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.The Dark Knight garnered numerous awards and nominations with particular praise for Heath Ledger's performance of the Joker. The film received eight Academy Award nominations at the 81st Academy Awards in 2009, winning two for Best Sound Editing and Best Supporting Actor (posthumously awarded to Ledger). Notably, the film's Best Sound Editing win prevented Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire from having a clean category-sweep.

At the People's Choice Awards—in which the winners are determined by the choices of the people (audience) in the Gallup polls—The Dark Knight won five awards, including: Favorite Movie, Favorite Action Movie, Favorite Superhero (Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman), Favorite On Screen Match-Up (Christian Bale and Heath Ledger), and Favourite Cast. The film was included in top-ten films of 2008 lists by multiple publications, including the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review.

Montana Meth Project

The Montana Meth Project (MMP) is a Montana-based non-profit organization founded by businessman Thomas Siebel which seeks to reduce methamphetamine use, particularly among teenagers. The main venture of the MMP is a saturation-level advertising campaign of television, radio, print, and Internet ads that graphically depict the negative consequences of methamphetamine use. Common elements are the deterioration of each teenage subject's health and living conditions, amphetamine psychosis, moral compromise, and regret. As of 2010, the Meth Project has expanded its media campaign into seven additional states. As of March 13, 2013 the Meth Project, the umbrella organization of the Montana Meth Project, joined the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in their efforts to reduce substance abuse among teens.

Pfister

Pfister is a German surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Wally Pfister, an Academy Award winning Cinematographer and Director.

Pfister (firm), a manufacturer of faucets (UK: taps) and other accessories

Albrecht Pfister, one of the first European printers to use movable type

Albrecht Pfister, a German mathematician

Charles F. Pfister, a wealthy tannery magnate, bank financier, utility owner, newspaper publisher, hotelier and philanthropist

Daniel Pfister

George Pfister

Hank Pfister, American tennis player

Hanspeter Pfister

Manuel Pfister

Marcus Pfister, Swiss author, illustrator

Nadia Pfister (born 1995), Swiss squash player

Oskar Pfister

Otto Pfister

Otto Pfister (naturalist)

Phil Pfister, strongman

The Pfister Hotel

San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography

The San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography is an award given by the San Diego Film Critics Society to honor the finest directing achievements in filmmaking.

San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards 2008

The 7th San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards, honoring the best in film for 2008, were given on 15 December 2008.

The Prestige (film)

The Prestige is a 2006 psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan from a screenplay adapted by his brother Jonathan from Christopher Priest's 1995 novel of the same name. Its story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century. Obsessed with creating the best stage illusion, they engage in competitive one-upmanship with tragic results and a renowned twist ending.

The film stars Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier, Christian Bale as Alfred Borden, and David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. It also stars Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Andy Serkis, and Rebecca Hall. The film reunites Nolan with actors Bale and Caine from Batman Begins and returning cinematographer Wally Pfister, production designer Nathan Crowley, and editor Lee Smith.

The film was released on October 20, 2006, receiving positive reviews and strong box office results, and received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. Along with The Illusionist and Scoop, The Prestige was one of three films released in 2006 to explore the world of stage magicians.

The Unborn (1991 film)

The Unborn is a 1991 American horror film directed by Rodman Flender and starring Brooke Adams, Jeff Hayenga, James Karen, K Callan, and Jane Cameron. The screenplay concerns a couple who cannot have children. They try in-vitro fertilization, but then strange things start happening to the mother while she is pregnant.

Lisa Kudrow and Kathy Griffin have small roles.

Transcendence (2014 film)

Transcendence is a 2014 American science fiction thriller film directed by cinematographer Wally Pfister in his directorial debut, and written by Jack Paglen. The film stars Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser, and Morgan Freeman. Pfister's usual collaborator, Christopher Nolan, served as executive producer on the project.

Paglen's screenplay was listed on the 2012 edition of The Black List, a list of popular unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Transcendence was a disappointment at the box office, grossing just $103 million against a budget of at least $100 million. The film received mainly negative reviews; it was criticized for its plot structure, characters and dialogue but positive mentions toward its cinematography, acting, and score.

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