LAFF 2012: 'Dark Knight Rises' Cinematographer Wally Pfister Discusses His Directorial Debut

Christopher Nolan Wally Pfister - P 2012
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Christopher Nolan Wally Pfister - P 2012

Pfister, who revealed that he and Nolan shot some 60 minutes of the upcoming Batman sequel in 65mm IMAX, says he is seeking a cinematographer for his untitled feature, which his "Dark Knight" director will executive produce.

The Dark Knight Rises director of photography Wally Pfister has no intention of serving as the cinematographer on his upcoming directorial debut.

“Hell no,” he responded when asked if he would shoot the movie, Saturday during a session at the Los Angeles Film Festival. “All I care about right now is screenplay and performance. … The look is not my focus. I don’t want to be micromanaging how someone lights the film. I’m looking for a cinematographer whose style I like and understand. And they’ve got to be fast. I’m going to do to that cinematographer what [Christopher] Nolan has done to me for the last 13 years.”

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Pfister has lensed every one of The Dark Knight Rises director Nolan since 2000’s Memento. Most recently, that included Inception, which netted Pfister an Oscar, and next month’s Batman movie.

The collaboration will continue, as executive producer Nolan and his wife and producing partner Emma Thomas are on board for Pfister’s untitled Alcon thriller. “I found a script I really like a lot,” Pfister said, adding that Nolan is “very supportive.” Production is expected to begin this coming Fall or Winter.

Pfister—who despite the digitization of Hollywood has never lost his passion for celluloid—revealed that The Dark Knight Rises includes a full 60 minutes of footage shot in IMAX 65mm, an unprecedented decision for a narrative studio feature.

Nolan’s July 20 release also bypassed the commonly used digital intermediate step for postproduction, a decision which Pfister said “I feel pretty strongly about because it means less manipulation [of the filmed image] and higher resolution.”

Saying that it would be a “tragedy if our film is taken away from us,” Pfister admitted that he has never shot a motion picture with a digital camera, and unsurprisingly announced that he plans to shoot his upcoming movie on film. “We are trying to keep film alive," he said. "Digital cameras today just aren’t quite there."

During Saturday’s ‘Kodak Focus’ LAFF session, the audience also had a chance to view 35mm prints of The Dark Knight Rises trailer, as well as reels of Pfister's work on Nolan’s Insomnia (2002) and Inception (2010), and Lisa Cholodenko’s Laurel Canyon (2002), which starred Nolan’s Batman Christian Bale.

Pfister recalled that during post-production on Insomnia, he mentioned to Nolan that Bale was “wonderful” in Laurel Canyon, and suggested that the director and actor meet. “They did, clearly,” Pfister said.