Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister is striking out on his own. His accomplishments under Christopher Nolan* have made the cinematographer a commodity in his own right, so it comes as no surprise that Warner Brothers is keen to spin the artist off into new ventures. As Renn reported a few days back, Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence (which Nolan’s producing) is already turning into a major production, as Johnny Depp has nabbed one of three starring roles. According to Steven Zeitchik of the LA Times, Depp may very well be joined by an actor who’s worked closely with Pfister in the past: Christian Bale.

I’ve learned the film will shoot in Los Angeles (a shift from potential East Coast locales, owing to new plot elements) when cameras begin rolling in the winter. There are also a total of three leads, which means that those wishing for Christian Bale, who has apparently been in Pfister’s sights, can still hold out hope.

Mirroring his mentor’s preproduction methods, Pfister is shrouding the project in mystery. Very little is known about the plot. Rumors peg the film as something of a high-tech Frankenstein, with a programmer creating a computer that becomes self-aware and runs amok. Pfister will be working off a screenplay by first time writer Jack Paglen.

So Pfister nabbed one actor he wanted, will he land his next choice as well? I’m admittedly ambivalent towards the rumored plot, but the thought of Depp and Bale onscreen together is enough to get me interested. The transitory road to directing is littered with dead cinematographers (well, not really dead, but you get the idea), can Pfister buck the trend and deliver a great movie his first time out?

*And elsewhere; let’s not forget Pfister was also the DP on Moneyball as well as a host of other, non-Nolan films.