Christopher Nolan on What Draws Him to Crafting Large-Scale Movies

Christopher Nolan is well aware that he’s in an extremely fortunate position as a filmmaker. Granted, this is a fortune he’s earned through a career of crafting huge and hugely entertaining blockbusters across a variety of genres, but he’s certainly not taking it for granted.

Speaking with Time magazine, Nolan was quick to point out the smaller films he’s recently seen and loved, including Celine Song’s Past Lives and Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun, two beautiful, bittersweet stories that revealed the immense skill of their writer/directors and Nolan’s appreciation of the power available in intimate, quieter films.

Yet Nolan told Time he’s well aware that his success has given him a kind of responsibility to go big, given his history of marshaling huge sets, large ensemble casts, and complex blockbusters on the grandest scale.

“I’m drawn to working at a large scale because I know how fragile the opportunity to marshal those resources is,” Nolan told Time. “I know that there are so many filmmakers out there in the world who would give their eye teeth to have the resources I put together, and I feel I have the responsibility to use them in the most productive and interesting way.”

Nolan’s career features more successful, critically acclaimed blockbusters than almost any other filmmaker not named Steven Spielberg. His Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, Tenet, and his latest, Oppenheimer, which garnered an industry-best 13 Oscar nominations. And Oppenheimer was made for a relatively modest $100 million, given that he’s had a much larger budget for previous films and Oppenheimer‘s massive successive at the box office.

L to R: Emily Blunt (as Kitty Oppenheimer) with writer, director, and producer Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy (as J. Robert Oppenheimer) on the set of OPPENHEIMER.

In fact, Nolan shot Oppenheimer at a very quick pace, a mere 57 days compared to the 85 he’d originally budgeted for it, all to give himself and his team more money for location filming and production design.

The results speak for themselves. Oppenheimer is currently the favorite to win Best Picture, it has broken box office records, and it proved that when a passionate filmmaker makes the very most of the resources he’s given, even a story about a theoretical physicist, albeit one who played a massive role in world history, can become a global phenomenon.

And Nolan’s not going to rest on his laurels. He feels a responsibility to keep going big.

For more on Oppenheimer, check out these stories:

“Oppenheimer” Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema on Making History With Christopher Nolan

“Oppenheimer” Production Designer Ruth De Jong on Helping Christopher Nolan Build the Bomb

“Oppenheimer” IMAX Run Extended Due to Popular Demand

“Oppenheimer” Composer Ludwig Göransson Creates a New Kind of Atomic Scale

Featured image: Writer, director, and producer Christopher Nolan on the set of OPPENHEIMER. Courtesy Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures.


The Credits

The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.