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From ‘Momento’ to ‘Moneyball’: A Beginner’s Guide to Wally Pfister

Never underestimate the erotic thriller to ‘Batman’ pipeline.
Wally Pfister Cinematography
Warner Bros
By  · Published on April 5th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores what distinguishes the cinematography of Wally Pfister.

Creative partnerships aren’t unheard of in Hollywood. While frequent pair-ups might have been mandated during the Studio system, the old adage holds that you don’t mess with a good thing. And for plenty of directors, the good thing in question is a reliable cinematographer.

From Roger Deakins’ frequent team-ups with the Coen Brothers to Wes Anderson’s enduring creative partnership with Robert Yeoman, it’s easy to guess why some directors are stuck at the hip with certain DPs. It’s probably a huge relief to have someone behind the camera who you can trust to capture your vision; to pick up on your expectations and read between the lines of what you’re going for.

One such director-cinematographer pairing that deserves mention among the best is the collaboration between DP Wally Pfister and director Christopher Nolan. The pair worked together between Nolan’s second feature film, Memento and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. Indeed, for many, you might know Pfister best (or at all) because of his work with Nolan. But as the video essay below emphasizes, Pfister is much, much more than his most infamous collaboration.

So, in the interest of digging deeper into Pfister’s work history, artistic philosophy, and gear preferences, here’s a look at how Wally Pfister melds art and technology to produce some of modern cinema’s most iconic images.

Watch “Cinematography Style: Wally Pfister”

Who made this?

This video essay on Wally Pfister’s cinematography is by In Depth Cine, a YouTube account dedicated to providing its audience with practical rundowns and explainers on some of the more technical aspects of movie-making. Gray Kotzé, a documentary DP based in South Africa, is the man behind the channel. You can check out Kotzé’s portfolio on their website here. And you can check out In Depth Cine on YouTube here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.