The favorite director of photography for many leading British directors, Roger Pratt has proven himself a master at numerous genres, adept at expressionistic lighting ("Batman" 1989), muted, musty tones ("Shadowlands" 1993), and quirky comedy, ("Brazil" 1985).
A film school graduate, Pratt began in the business as a camera loader, a function he served on "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975). It was during this shoot that he first met Python member, writer-director Terry Gilliam. Pratt moved up to lighting designer and camera operator before doing the cinematography for Roger Christian's Oscar-winning short, "The Dollar Bottom" (1981). Christian hired Pratt as cinematographer on what became the debut feature film for both, the underrated thriller "The Sender" (1982). By 1985, Pratt was working with Gilliam as director of photography on "Brazil", creating the nightmarishly futuristic world dominated by machines to vivid, colorful life. He shot second unit work on Gilliam's fantastical "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1989) and further collaborated with the director on "The Fisher King" (1991) and "12 Monkeys" (1995), for which he again created a nightmarish world using careful shadings of light.
Pratt's abilities with dark tones and atmospheric shadowing was particularly revealed in Neil Jordan's "Mona Lisa" (1986) and confirmed with Tim Burton's "Batman". The latter was often praised, often criticized for the darkness and expressionism of its texture, which, if not a total departure from the comic strip, certainly was unexpected by those who had been fans of the 1960s TV series. Sir Richard Attenborough enlisted Pratt to shoot "Shadowlands", which offered the muted, sedate tones of the British countryside. Pratt again teamed with Attenborough on the "In Love and War" (1996), which often had a warm yet muted glow. Kenneth Branagh enlisted Pratt for "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994). Also in the 80s, Pratt worked with Mike Leigh on the latter's early TV short films, including "Meantime" (1983), and "The Short and Curlies" (1987). Pratt has worked occasionally for British TV and has shot numerous TV commercials as well. Reteaming with Neil Jordan for 1999's remake of "The End of the Affair", he picked up his first Best Cinematography Oscar nomination.