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. It received a field-leading four Cinema Eye nominations for Outstanding Debut Feature, Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, Outstanding Achievement in Editing, and Outstanding Achievement in Score.
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. (Check out Daniele de Rossi morphing into a Grand Theft Auto
villain gone haywire.) The Guardian described the resulting film as “a video instillation that could easily be in the running for the Turner Prize.” It debuted during the UEFA Champions League Final in London and went on to air in football matches worldwide.
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 (“Amores Perros,” “Brokeback
Mountain,” “Wolf of Wall Street”).
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
He also directs music videos. His latest for Mykki Blanco’s “Coke White, Starlight” was
shot in Athens, Greece in the midst of national elections, anarchist riots and the
escalating refugee crisis. Inspired by the early-films of Wong Kar Wai and the feminine
power of Sophia Loren, the video depicts Blanco’s rebirth and transformation from a self-destructive street hustler into a Greek refugee goddess of the sea. It was named one of the best music videos of 2015 by Dazed & Confused.
Patterson is a Los Angeles native and graduate of Yale University.