6 Filmmaking Tips From Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

Born in July of 1970, Christopher Nolan was always sort of made for Summer. As an adult, that promise has been fulfilled with blockbuster spectacles in the hot months, but it all started when he was a child. It was then that he picked up the drug that became an obsession for the rest of his life: a Super 8 camera.

The result of those early ambitions and the study of storytelling in college led him to create shorts, build a feature in Memento that drew acclaim, and to embark on a studio career that has blended intelligence with popular culture. He’s invaded our dreams, altered a genre and made magic.

So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who is waiting for a train…

Take the Time to Meet Raw Festival Talent

How do you hook up with a talented cinematographer like Wally Pfister? Or a brilliant director like Christopher Nolan? Or the right sound designer, colorist or editor that your project needs?

A little networking at festivals can help.

“I was at the Slamdance Festival with Following while Ron Judkin’s Hi-Line was being shown at Sundance. I thought it was a beautifully executed film that was clearly produced with limited resources. I had to meet the guy who shot it. I decided during our first conversation that I wanted to work with Wally. We just clicked the way you sometimes do with people. We know each other better today, but our relationship hasn’t changed. There is a synergy that affects our ability to translate ideas into images.”

Next time you’re impressed by someone else’s work at a festival, go tell him or her. It might lead to a solid partnership. Of course, that also means that while you’re at a festival, you have to take the time out to check out screenings that aren’t your own.

Understand Every Job on Set

“I’m interested in every different bit of filmmaking because I had to do every bit of it myself—from sound recording and ADR to editing and music. I feel very lucky to be a member of probably the last generation who cut film on a Steenbeck flatbed, physically taping it together and dropping out shots. It gave me a really good grounding in knowing overall what has to go into a film technically that was very valuable.

And it meant that absolutely everything I did was simply because I was passionate and wanted to try stuff. You’re never going to learn something as profoundly as when it’s purely out of curiosity.”

Real Places Add Credibility

Nolan has continuously shown an affinity for film over digital, in-camera effects and real locations as well as a belief that having as little CGI as possible is the key to taking the audience on a true adventure.

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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