Filmmakers Learn from Nolan's First Film

What Can Indie/Aspiring Filmmakers Learn from Nolan’s First Film?

Every filmmaker has their own filmmaking style, but when it comes to making the audience berserk in spine-chilling moments of a film. Christopher Nolan is the guy who you should give a shout-out to.

Who is Nolan?

Christopher Edward Nolan is a Hollywood filmmaker hailing from Britain. He is well known for his complex and non-linear screenplay. He studied English literature and started making short films post-college with his girlfriend, Emma Thomas. He was nominated for five Academy Awards, five BAFTA Awards, and six Golden Globe Awards. In most of his films, he collaborated with his brother Jonathan Nolan for writing and his wife, Emma Thomas, for production. In addition, he jointly runs a production company called Syncopy with his wife. This article will explore how Christopher Nolan crafted the epic crime drama “The Following.”



Doodlebug was Christopher Nolan’s first black and white short film where the main character is on the hunt for an unknown subject, and later we come to know about the bug. Nolan later went on to direct his first feature film, “The following.”

The Following

The following is Nolan’s first-ever feature film starring Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, and John Nolan. The story begins with the main character, the young man, Bill, who is a writer who randomly follows strangers and writes about them in his novel; in his pursuit, he meets Cobb, a passionate burglar, and accompanies him in his heist. Driven by Cobb, Bill cuts his hair and dresses up like him and attempts to save a blonde girl from a gangster who the girl claims to be having his personal pictures. The story unfolds to find the plan Cobb and the girl weaved to set Bill into a murder plot. 

This one hell of a thriller crime drama has gained accolades worldwide.

Production Planning

Production Planning

Before shooting, “the following” Nolan devised a perfect plan where the shoot happened on week offs, and every actor should bring their own food. Nolan rehearsed the entire film for months before shooting it so that the actors would adapt to the character and wouldn’t go for a retake. The film was shot in an Arriflex 16BL 2:5:1 film roll where every one-minute footage equals two and half minutes of performance footage. The entire production was made with a hand-held film camera. Indie filmmakers can learn the process of planning, execution, and pre-production from Nolan’s following.


Christopher Nolan is hailed for his one-of-a-kind non-linear screenplay; most of his films have a plot that gives importance to details and non-linear narrative. He pushed the boundaries from the usual storytelling narrative to a non-linear method, and it all started with the following. The way he plays with time is evident in all of his recent movies. Instead of adapting to the three-act structure, indie filmmakers can learn this quirk of innovative storytelling from Christopher Nolan.

Devil is in the details

Most Christopher Nolan movie characters have a philosophical touch in their dialogues.

For example, in Following, during the robbing session, Cobb exaggerates, “You take it away, and show them what they had.” and “Either you die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.” in the Dark knight and “An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.” from the inception. All these dialogues have a philosophical touch on the character’s inner self.

Indie filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers can add a philosophical angle to what the character believes to be true and emote that in the scene to convey it differently.

Oscar Awards

Once the Hollywood production house began to open its gates to Nolan, Nolan continued to create great films one after the other, thus putting him and his movies in the Oscar nominations film after film. He was nominated more than five times for the oscar awards, and his films were nominated in various categories in various departments of filmmaking. Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, the antagonist in Nolan’s Dark knight, was awarded the best-supporting actor oscar award in 2008.

Nolan’s other films

Nolan directed around 11 films in his filmmaking career and they are as follows, the Following, Insomnia, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, Tenet, Memento,  Inception,  Interstellar, Dunkirk, The Dark Knight, Insomnia, Oppenheimer. 

To conclude, every Indie and aspiring filmmaker can learn a lot about filmmaking skills after every rewatch of the following. If you are interested in films and have quality films in your pocket, submit them to video monetization platforms like GUDSHO and expose them to the world. It’s time the world knows you. Every big journey begins with a small step; it’s time to start your channel here.

Ravi Harikrishnan

I transform complex products into compelling stories that resonate with audiences, driving adoption and growth.

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