Variety is reporting that the American Film Institute will award Wally Pfister their Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal next month. The Academy Award winning cinematographer will be presented with the medal as part of the AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Shirley MacLaine. Pfister has collaborated with director Christopher Nolan on all of his major feature films, starting with Memento over a decade ago. The Schaffner Medal recognizes graduates of the AFI Conservatory, of which Pfister is a 1991 graduate. Other AFI alumni who have been awarded the medal include: David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Ed Zwick, Darren Aronofsky, Janusz Kaminski, and Amy Heckerling.
This medal comes at a pivotal time in Wally Pfister’s career. He is set to direct his first feature film — which is said to have a substantial budget and will be exec produced by Christopher Nolan — in the not-too-distant future. And according to the latest issue of Empire magazine, Wally is looking to retire from cinematography and solely focus on directing after this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises. It’s saddening and equally exciting news — although it feels weird imagining a modern Christopher Nolan film without Wally’s wonderful eye behind the camera. The AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony takes place on June 7th in LA. There’s no word on when Wally’s directorial debut is set to start.