Director Christopher Nolan is best known for The Dark Knight trilogy of blockbusters, and a film with a sound so powerful it's been replicated in many a trailer since: Inception. Prior to these films Nolan directed the mind-bending thriller Memento, but his career began even earlier with an ultra-low budget feature called Following.
An exercise in efficient, effective filmmaking, Following is a film noir gem -- and one impressively made on a shoestring. Nolan recently sat down with VICE and the Criterion Collection to talk about the making of the film. Outlining DIY tips and tricks he used to get the film made with very limited resources, Nolan also explains how some of the methods he learned making Following still influence him to this day -- even when shooting IMAX.
Instead of fighting against the limitations of the production, Nolan allowed them to dictate everything from the film's structure, to its handheld shooting style, to the 16mm film it was shot on. Even Following's gritty neo-noir vibe benefitted from what may have been disadvantages to a different kind of movie. Can't control the look of locations? Shoot black-and-white stock. Can't afford much lighting gear? Set the scene during the day and place the characters next to windows. Can't afford to shoot multiple takes? Rehearse -- a lot. At a half-hour long, the interview is truly a goldmine of material, so let's get right to it:
It's fascinating to hear such an accomplished artist -- one who has, more recently, expressed his desire to shoot an entire feature film on the IMAX format -- describe such humble beginnings. Even with the vastly improved set of choices today's shooters have in affordable camera technology, I think plenty of Nolan's clever workarounds could still aid the first time feature filmmaker. Especially those on a tight budget.