Learning From Wally Pfister

Posted in All, Blog, Uncategorized
Learning From Wally Pfister

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge believer in learning through experience. I love to read and watch, but I learn the most by going out and shooting and putting myself in positions to learn from others. Unfortunately, Wally Pfister has yet to call me and ask to work for him (Wally if you are reading this, I am willing to do whatever it takes to work for you).

Since I can’t learn by working with him just yet, I try to read and watch as many interviews as I possibly can. I first fell in love with his work when I watched Memento for a project in my TV production class. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do before that point but after watching that, I knew I wanted to be in the video production business. When Batman Begins came out I was blown away. I wanted to shoot and light like that. The Dark Knight then came out and I have probably watched that movie more times on mute than I have with sound. I am sure it will be the same with the Dark Knight Rises. Among other influences, Wally Pfister is someone I learn from just by watching.

I wanted to share some of the tips on cinematography I have gotten from his interviews:
*You have to respect the story first
*Respect the actors
*Respect whatever it is the director needs
*You are there to guide and help directors but there are some battles you will need to fight
*Cinematography is one part artistry and one part craftsmanship
*Don’t let others dictate what tools you use, use your expertise to know what tools are needed to get the job done


There is so much to learn from people like Wally just by listening. The key is to use this on your next project, no matter how big or how small. Who do you learn from? What have you learned? Would really like to hear this and expand my list of DPs and Cinematographers that I can learn from.

Here are my favorite movies that Wally has shot:
*Batman (all three)
*The Prestige
*The Italian Job

Looking forward to checking out Marley once I have some free time.

If you have time, here is a great interview of Wally talking about cinematography.

Leave a Reply