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Tristan Oliver BSC is a British cinematographer best known for his work with Wes Anderson and Nick Park in the field of stop frame animated feature films. His work has also covered live action and mixed media commercials, shorts and feature films. His early collaborations with fellow cinematographer and long term friend and mentor Dave Alex Riddett resulted in Academy Awards for the Nick Park helmed shorts, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave and the feature film, Curse of the Wererabbit.
Tristan was always heading for a career as an actor. His parents were theatrical costumiers and he grew up with that constant infectious lovey chat all around him.
When he was 20, he got a part in a movie being shot by the great Peter Biziou BSC. (Another Country) It was a Damascene conversion moment. Peter was such a warm, charismatic and supportive man to a nervous young actor and the process of photographing the movie really entranced Tristan who had never so much as owned a stills camera at this point.
A catholic mixture of arts and science A levels meant he could, at least, understand the basics and he spent a weird couple of years clapper loading and taking bit parts until he could afford to go to film school in Bristol.
A great mentor at this time was Dave Alex Riddett with whom Tristan would go on to work very closely at Aardman some years later.
He won a couple of student cinematography prizes when he was at film school and picked the ‘phone up to some of the judges to try and blag a job. “I ended up, to my eternal shame, focus pulling very badly for Patrick Duval. I doubt he has forgiven me.” The usual progression of shorts and pop promos for mates followed until, needing some lights for a job, he rang a mate at Aardman in Bristol to see if they could help me out.
“I never intended to pursue the speciality I have ended up in. No one opts for stop frame animation cinematography as a career path but I was fortunate enough to be in at the beginning of Aardman Animations’ move into features and it was an intensely creative and exciting time and I stuck with it.”
It has become Tristan’s bread and butter and he have been fortunate enough to have worked with some incredible directors including, in some capacity, four movies with both Wes Anderson and Nick Park.
“I never had any hope that I would become a member of the BSC. I was just too niche and I know the work garners a degree of disdain in some quarters!”
It was Tony Miller BSC, with whom he had been at university, who rang out of the blue and suggested he apply. Oliver Curtis seconded the application. Much thanks to both of them for taking that punt.
Tristan was accepted as a full member of the BSC in late 2018.
You can view a Q and A session of Tristan Oliver BSC in conversation with Oliver Curtis BSC, talking about his photography on 'Isle of Dogs Here