Tristan Patterson is the director of the acclaimed documentary Dragonslayer, a portrait of youth, love and revolt set in the suburbs of California during the Great Recession. Executive-produced by Christine Vachon (Kids, Boys Don’t Cry, Carol), the film premiered at SXSW in 2011 where it was awarded the Jury Prizes for Best Feature Documentary and Best Cinematography. The New York Times hailed it as “the most riveting look at the life and world of skateboarders since Dogtown” and IndieWire described Patterson’s directorial approach as “the measured veríté style of Frederick Wiseman meets the visual polish of Terrence Malick pitting gorgeous imagery against hard reality with a delicacy rarely seen in the non-fiction form.”
The film had its international premiere at HotDocs where it won Best International Feature. Patterson was also shortlisted for a Grierson Award at the BFI London Film Festival. Dragonslayer was distributed theatrically in the U.S. by Drag City and featured on numerous year-end, best-of lists including the Los Angeles Times and Village Voice.
In 2012, Patterson began directing commercials, collaborating with 72andSunny Amsterdam and Fabrica on Benetton’s Unemployee of the Year initiative to address the global youth employment crisis; continuing to seek out new modes of storytelling in fresh and striking cinematic languages.
For Anomaly NY’s launch of Converse’s Shoes Are Boring campaign, Patterson mixed and matched formats, shooting on a dozen different cameras to capture everything from awkward office dance parties caught on VHS to prime MTV-era music videos and Ramones album covers creating an irreverent blast of pop culture mayhem.
For United State of Fans/TBWA’s launch of the adidas Nitrocharge boot, Patterson celebrated the ferocious energy of the unsung heroes who engine their teams to victory on the pitch by data-moshing explosive blasts of Pop Art with heart-pumping footage of pro footballers in action.
Patterson has also continued to push the boundaries of non-fiction filmmaking. His short film Chasing Horizons, made in collaboration with W+K Amsterdam/Japan for Citizen Watches, is a breathtaking portrait of a small crew attempting to fly a prop-plane around the earth at the 80° latitude to photograph a sunset that never ends. Shot over the course of 36 hours of straight filmmaking in -30°C conditions and culminating on the northern coast of the Arctic Ocean, the campaign won both Gold and Silver Cannes Lions in 2015.
That same year, Patterson profiled war photographer David Guttenfelder for CP+B’s Bronze-winning Mission 22 campaign to help raise awareness about military suicide in The War At Home.
He recently completed Demolition Men, which captures an epic factory demolition featuring a fleet of Nissan Navaras as seen through the eyes of a child, for TBWA Paris,and returned to America to direct the new round of Miller High Life’s Effie-award winning “I Am Rich” campaign from Leo Burnett, pushing the creative envelope with a cast made-up entirely of real bands and their friends while shooting on 35XX Kodak film with acclaimed cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
Patterson has written screenplays for Warner Brothers, Disney and Fox and worked with directors including Jesse Peretz (Girls) and Tony Scott (True Romance, Man on Fire). Patterson is a Los Angeles native and graduate of Yale University.