My LA to Z: Wally Pfister


On Friday, the Oscar-winning cinematographer who helped transform Christopher Nolan’s Inception into a mind-bending dreamscape will enter a whole new reality: as feature director of his first film, the Nolan-produced Transcendence. The futurist sci-fi thriller stars Johnny Depp as a TED-talking rock star scientist who strives to create the ultimate sentient machine. All of his efforts capturing on-screen artificial intelligence may explain why Pfister enjoys the simpler pleasures of playing guitar and throwing pottery on his downtime. Here, he shares his alternate L.A. universe.

1 El Floradita 

Bitter Root Pottery

My wife and I got into pottery, and the place that got us started was Bitter Root on Beverly Boulevard. The owner is a really terrific guy, and you can use the place any time, day or night, as part of the cost of membership. The creation of something physical—which is bowls and cups for me at this point—gives a sense of satisfaction. The most important thing is I can tune out a little bit, and focus on just one thing.

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Moksha Yoga



Everything on Thomas Keller’s menu is fantastic, but it’s just as much about the service for me. The staff is knowledgeable, but you can relax because they know how to take care of everything. That’s why you pay the big bucks.

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Abbot's Habit


Arclight Cinemas

This is the only theater chain that truly respects great quality of sound and projection. It’s one of the few places I will go to see a movie.

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4 Hal's 

Nichols Canyon

We started out in the West Valley, then slowly made our way to Woodland Hills and Valley Village. Now we live here—and I love it. It’s the only place that has a natural stream that runs through the canyon. And, I’m only five minutes away rom Hollywood.

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5 Cafe Gratitude 

West L.A. Music

There’s a location on Cahuenga, but the one in Santa Monica is where I usually go to buy my musical instruments—a microphone, cable, guitar tuner, new guitar—you can get just about anything here. Editor’s note: West L.A. Music closed in 2012.


6 901 Salon 

McCabe’s Guitar Shop

This is an incredible venue. I saw Hot Tuna play there—and Jorma Kaukonen from Jefferson Airplane. You feel like you’re in somebody’s barn.

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7 Cerveteca 

The Ojai Playhouse

This is outside of Los Angeles, but my family loves going to Ojai. We have a place there. The town itself is frozen in time—including this little movie theater that’s been on that site for almost 100 years. That old-style theater takes me back to when I was a kid, when a freestanding theater would play one movie all summer long.

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Photographs courtesy (in order): (1), (4), (7) All other photographs courtesy