Ten things you need to know about Wally Pfister

We bring you the facts about the director of TRANSCENDENCE

TRANSCENDENCE is released in Irish cinemas this week, and is directed by former cinematographer, Wally Pfister. The film tells the story of a terminally ill scientist who hooks his mind up to a computer in the hopes of achieving some sort of immortality, and stars Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman and Paul Bettany. We decided to gather together some information about Pfister and bring you the facts about the director behind TRANSCENDENCE.

1. Popularity is not everything
Paglan’s screenplay for TRANSCENDENCE was formerly part of what is known as The Black List, a set of popular and well liked, but unproduced screenplays in Hollywood.

2. In the Nolan
Pfister has worked as a cinematographer since the 1990s, but is best known for his work on Christopher Nolan’s films. In fact, Nolan served as executive producer on TRANSCENDENCE, and believes that the film is perfect for Pfister’s directorial debut.

3. Pfister Begins
The BATMAN BEGINS video game includes a character named ‘Walter Pfister’, who does not appear in the film. This character was voiced in the game by Pfister himself.

4. Film Rocks
Pfister is a strong advocate for the use of film stock over digital cinematography, and shot TRANSCENDENCE in the anamorphic format on 35mm film, as opposed to digitally.

5. Sharing is Caring
Although Pfister is best known as a cinematographer, he did not do the cinematography on TRANSCENDENCE, passing the torch instead to 30 MINUTES OR LESS cinematographer Jess Hall.

6. Winner, Winner!
In 2011, Pfister won an Oscar for his work as cinematographer on INCEPTION. He had been nominated three times previously, for BATMAN BEGINS, THE PRESTIGE and THE DARK KNIGHT.

7. Seeing is Believing
Pfsiter caught the film bug after seeing Burt Reynolds shooting SHAMUS on location in his New York neighbourhood when he was 10 years old. Soon afterwards, he began shooting 8 mm home movies and short films.

8. Like Father, Like Son
Pfister’s 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 he left school, Wally the younger found a job as a cameraman for a Washington news service, which provided film for TV stations around the US.

9. Straight from the headlines…
In 1988, Robert Altman came to Washington to direct a mini-series for HBO called TANNER ’88. 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.

10. Family Man
Pfister has said that he turned down many projects (including several HARRY POTTER films), in some cases just to be available for Christopher Nolan, or to stay at home with his family. Sadly, due to scheduling conflicts with TRANSCENDENCE, Pfister could not do the cinematography for Nolan’s upcoming film INTERSTELLAR; he was replaced by Hoyte Van Hoytema, whose recent work includes TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and HER.

TRANSCENDENCE is released in Irish cinemas from April 25th

Words: Brogen Hayes