Wally Pfister is an American cinematographer and film 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 is currently working on his directorial debut Transcendence (2014) through Alcon Entertainment.
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.
Janusz Kamiński had just graduated from AFI, 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).