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Wednesday's Connector: Christopher Nolan

July 7th, 2010
05:18 PM ET

British-American film director and writer, Christopher Nolan is out with a new psychological thriller called "Inception", which some critics are saying could be one of his best movies yet.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/07/nolan.art.gettyimages.jpg
caption="Christopher Nolan is your Connector of the Day."]

Nolan has also directed other films including "Memento" and is credited with helping to revive the "Batman" movie franchise.

Born in July 1970, Nolan who is the son of a British father and an American mother grew up in both London and Chicago.

Nolan had an early interest in film-making techniques and even shot short movies with his father's camera and his toy soldiers.

The director's first feature film was "Following" in 1996 and was a generally considered a success by both critics and movie studios.

Nolan's next film, "Memento" was released in 2000 to critical success and was subsequently nominated for both a Golden Globe and Oscar.

However, Nolan may be best known for his role in reviving the "Batman" franchise .

Today, he is out with a new film starring Leonard di Caprio called "Inception."

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Christopher Nolan

    Looking at your oeuvre, it seems as if you've been inching towards INCEPTION, one step at a time, for the better part of your career, with the Batman films being a training ground for the kind of ambitious, large-scale filmmaking that you've stated a love for. With that said, do you consider the Batman films "one for them" (training wheels on) and Inception as "one for you" (training weels off)?

    July 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  2. Christopher Randolph

    Please edit that comment, the name is Christpher Randolph, and I'm writing from Texas.

    July 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  3. Kayla

    Mr. Nolan,

    I believe that your screenplays are one of the greatest aspects of your films. As an aspired screenwriter myself, what is your writing process like, and do you have any advice for those desiring to work as a screenwriter?


    July 7, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  4. Kayla

    Please edit my comment as well. I forgot to mention I'm from Georgia.

    July 7, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  5. Ant Patel

    Now that you have tackled filming elaborate dream sequences on screen, Do you believe Truffaut was wrong when he said the "madeleine scene" in Prousts' "Swanns Way" is not filmable? How much further do you wish to take film technology?

    July 7, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  6. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello Christopher Jonathan James Nolan and CNN friends,

    I would like an answer from Christopher Nolan on the following questions:
    – What has inspired you to create the Psychic movie “Inception”?
    – In what way could the Current Psychic Fortune-Tellers and Mind Readers foreseen the BP Oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico?
    – What has inspired you to create Dark Psychological Thriller Batman movies?
    – When is the Batman movie The Dark Knight Sequel playing in the movie theaters?
    – How do you manage your personal life with your acting career?
    – What can we expect from you in 2010?
    – How are you inspiring people all over the world to make our world a Better Healthier and Beautiful Place?

    I am awaiting Christopher Jonathan James Nolan’s replies.

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname

    July 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  7. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello Christopher Jonathan James Nolan and CNN friends,

    I would like an answer from Christopher Nolan on the following questions:
    – What has inspired you to create the Psychic movie “Inception”?
    – In what way could the Current Psychic Fortune-Tellers and Mind Readers foreseen the BP Oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico?
    – What has inspired you to create Dark Psychological Thriller Batman movies?
    – When is the Batman movie The Dark Knight Sequel playing in the movie theaters?
    – How do you manage your personal life with your film director career?
    – What can we expect from you in 2010?
    – How are you inspiring people all over the world to make our world a Better Healthier and Beautiful Place?

    I am awaiting Christopher Jonathan James Nolan’s replies.

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname

    July 7, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  8. Parker Peterson

    Parker Peterson
    Utah, USA
    Just want to let you know I am a HUGE fan of ALL your movies, and quite frankly, I think you're a movie directing genius. You have genuinely inspired me to want to become a director myself. Having said that, here are a few questions for you, after all that is what I'm supposed to be writing about ha.
    -What are the movie(s) that have inspired you in the making of your films, and to become a director (I know Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Heat are some of your favorites, and most influential, but any more that people may not know about?)
    -What drives you to keep on making bigger, better films?
    -Any advice to me (a highschool student) on what I can do that will help in becoming a director?
    Thank you for your time Mr. Nolan

    July 8, 2010 at 12:08 am | Reply
  9. Parish Malfitano

    hello Christopher Nolan

    To me Christopher Nolan you are my idol and your are the reason I want to try an become a director or a director of photography. Your films inspire me and the effort you put into your films and how you care about every detail inspires me.

    i would like to ask what are your top 10 favorite films or your top 5 and who was your most influential director when you were growing up and who is your favorite director at this current time.

    From your experiences working with Wally Pfister, what is the most important thing about cinematography.e.g the lighting or angles or lenses etc

    Thank you Christopher Nolan for all of brilliant films you have shown the world, you are truly one of a kind.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:50 am | Reply
  10. Parish Malfitano

    i forget to mention that my hometown is Wollongong and my country is Australia. please edit that in my question

    July 8, 2010 at 12:54 am | Reply
  11. Benjamin Reid

    Hello Mr. Nolan, I have seen all of your films. I'd really appreciate it if you were able to answer a few of my questions.

    -In Following one of the central character's names is Cobb, as is the same case in Inception. Both characters can be considered as con men or thieves. Both wear similar attire and seem to be very capable of manipulating others to get what they want. Was this intended and did the relation mean anything more?
    -Who is your favorite director and what is your favorite film?
    -Is it true that Criterion is going to release Following on dvd and blu ray?
    -How long did it take for Guy Pearce to get his tattoo makeup on everyday in Memento?
    -What is the relationship between you and characters with greased back hair?

    I hope you keep on making great films, for you are one of the greatest new directors of the last 15 years. I support your views on 3D and I'm glad that there is still a director that can create intelligent films for wide audiences. I am sixteen years old and live in a mid-sized town in British Columbia where few people watch films outside of big blockbuster movies. When your films come out, it moves me by seeing people have some taste when they see your marvelous films. I am inviting a large group of friends to see Inception on the weekend and counting down the hours. I consider you to be one of the modern Kubricks of my generation. I am an aspiring director myself and have won school awards. Sadly, I have little chance of succeeding due to the constraints of my higher academic prospects, minimal support from my parents, and the lacking renown of my hometown. Regardless of whether I ever do become a director with the talent and renown that you have, I will always consider you one of the most creative inspirations of our time.

    I never believe I will have to remember to forget you,
    Benjamin Reid, British Columbia

    July 8, 2010 at 2:19 am | Reply
  12. Juan

    I would like Mr.Nolan to please answer the following questions:

    At the age of 16, which I believe is the age you first came up with the idea of inception, how far did u go with it? Did you write a screenplay at the time? How hard was it to develop the story of inception to come to a satisfying end in perspective to your previous movies?

    What first got you interested in a career as a director?

    What did you have to do to get where you are today and accomplish what you have?

    I am writing from Baltimore.

    What college did you attend?

    July 8, 2010 at 3:26 am | Reply
  13. Champ Ensminger

    Mr. Nolan,

    You mention in Empire Magazine's article that conceptually Inception is greatly influenced by a period a few years back when contemporary existential films like Dark City and The Matrix were released. Besides questioning reality, how did these films influence Inception in other ways? Visually? Tonally? As these films lean heavily on science fiction, were there aspects you changed to humanize the story?


    Champ Ensminger
    Seattle, Washington

    July 8, 2010 at 5:35 am | Reply
  14. Danielle

    Nolan, do you own any t-shirts? Us girls at nolanfans.com are very curious about this.

    Danielle from Arizona.

    July 8, 2010 at 5:35 am | Reply
  15. Ayesha

    What advice can you give to an aspiring screenwriter/director on how to get to your level in Hollywood?

    What are your thoughts about film school? Is it worth the time and the money?

    How do you remain so calm and organized when you are making your big budget films?

    Were you nervous on the set of your first film? If so, how did you combat your nerves?

    Houston, TX

    July 8, 2010 at 5:43 am | Reply
  16. Bruno

    What TV show or movie that influenced you to become a film director? Thank You from Chicago.

    July 8, 2010 at 5:56 am | Reply
  17. Giuseppe Ng

    Hello, I look forward and hope for Chris's answers to the following.
    -Both Wally Pfister and you have been vocal about the preference to use film instead of going Digital Intermediate. Is there truth that you get higher quality images from using film than going digital or is it just the format you're more comfortable at?
    -How did you deal with studio pressure on putting Inception on 3D?
    -I read that Inception had taken a long time to develop. Was it purely from a technical standpoint that it took you this long to complete it or the idea was not complete enough for you to pursue?
    -A lot of your movies heavily play on presenting timelines like Memento and Prestige. How do you write these stories as it seems that presenting the story in a non-linear fashion time-wise is rather complicated?

    July 8, 2010 at 6:11 am | Reply
  18. Cor

    Hello Chris,

    First off, I must mention that you are, without question, my favourite filmmaker. As a Batman fan since birth, I cannot thank you enough for creating not only two of my favourite films (they are in a league of their own for me, due to both the quality and my love for the character), but truly wonderful representations of Batman. I was drawn to your work when I first saw Batman Begins in Grade 7, as I immediately got on the computer when I got home and searched up what else Chris Nolan had directed. Needless to say, by the time The Prestige rolled around, I was dragging the family to the theatre on opening day. Your body of work is quite incredible, and I really love your approach to filmmaking. From what I've read and seen via interviews, you appear both intelligent and humble, and I admire both your films and you as a director and writer. You are a true inspiration for me, and there are a thousand different ways I could express my praise, but I think we can agree that I've gushed for long enough.

    Although I'd love to ask you a million different questions about Batman or Christian or Heath or The Prestige or Inception, I've decided to focus on directing. I've always loved film (like you, I'd use my father's camera to film, funnily enough, my Batman action figures), and over the past view years, I've taken up video editing as a hobby. In the Fall, I'm heading into university, and while I'm not pursuing a degree in film, I certainly want to keep it as a large part of my life. I've recently written a screenplay for a project that I want to complete before university – kind of like a summer project before heading into the next chapter of my life. It may be a bit ambitious for a first time filmmaker, but I'm devoting my time to making it the best it can be. With that in mind, my questions revolve around the directorial process:

    Quite simply – where do you begin? What method works for you as a director when first beginning a project? Is there a specific aspect of the film that you tackle first, such as visuals, character or emotional core? As an editor, I tend to think of how the finished product (this includes cuts, non-linear scenes, voice overs, reveals, etc.) will look before hand – is this something you spend time visualizing and setting up so that you know what to film, and that it's easy for you to dive straight into the editing process? And above all else, is there one piece of advice you could give to a young man who's got his heart set on film, but is having a tough time starting up on the path towards moviemaking?

    I apologize for the length of the comment, but it's not everyday that one get the chance to type something personal to one's idol. Here's hoping I receive the opportunity to have my questions answered.

    Thank you to CNN and Chris for this opportunity.


    Cor, from Canada

    PS: The wait for Inception is devastating. My anticipation has been steadily building since I first read the report that Christopher Nolan was working on another film after The Dark Knight. I know it will deliver beyond my dreams (pun intended) and I hope you enjoyed making the film, especially considering the fact that it seems to be a deeply personal project. I hope it's turned out to be everything you dreamed (another horrible pun) it would be. 🙂

    July 8, 2010 at 6:14 am | Reply
  19. waveking

    Which current working directors are your favorite?? Also please cite your favorite movies of the past decade.

    July 8, 2010 at 6:21 am | Reply
  20. theweatherman

    I was wondering if Chris has any plans to write a book about his experiences in hollywood, or maybe have his brother write it for him?

    July 8, 2010 at 6:45 am | Reply
  21. Keegan O'Brien

    1.) Do you have the same passion for the Batman franchise coming into the third film as you did for the first and second?

    2.) Could you list what you think are your greatest films from greatest to least?

    3.) What is your single favorite aspect of film making? Writing process, Shooting the film, Editing, etc...

    Thank you.
    Keegan O'Brien
    Eugene, Oregon (USA)

    July 8, 2010 at 6:56 am | Reply
  22. Chanel

    Hello Christopher Nolan,

    I have two questions about making the movie Inception.

    1.What was it like working with Leonardo DiCaprio?
    2.What was your inspiration to create the film Inception? Did it come in a dream, or eating donuts, etc.?
    3.What is the software that was used to create the effects in the movie?

    Thank you,
    El Paso, TX

    July 8, 2010 at 7:00 am | Reply
  23. Danny King

    Mr. Nolan,

    I am an aspiring filmmaker currently living in Chicago, IL. I have followed your career very closely for many years, and am a great admirer of your filmmaking style.

    I still have some questions, however, about your career before "Memento." For example, I know that "Following" was shot only on weekends over the course of an entire year. I'm sure you had a job during this period; what was it?

    I am also curious about some of your earlier short films, such as "Larceny," which I cannot find a copy of online. Is this film similar to your future projects? Is it coherent with the themes that have come to be associated with your name?

    That is probably as specific as I can get. Mostly, I am interested in your career path before "Memento" because it seems that everything has gone right in your career. You seem to keep improving with every project, and at the same time, the studios are giving you the freedom to create projects, like "Inception," which wouldn't be possible if they didn't have so much confidence in you. I couldn't imagine a better position for a filmmaker to be in, and if there are any interesting anecdotes you have about how you got to that point, I would love to hear them.

    Danny King

    P.S. Congratulations on the rave early reviews for "Inception." I'm sure the film deserves every one of them.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:11 am | Reply
  24. Javier

    Mr. Nolan,

    I'm a 24 year old Art student focusing on sculpture and oil painting but am also fascinated by music composition and the art of film-making. Everything from the stage of conception all the way to the actual process of filming and bringing ideas to life. As an artist, how big a role does music play for you during the creative process, or do you find it to be intrusive or limiting on the ideas you come up with? By the way, I am so thankful to you for your motto of achieving the most you can in camera before turning to the use of computer generated imagery.

    Devoted fan,
    San Antonio, TX

    July 8, 2010 at 7:20 am | Reply
  25. Glen Saward

    Hello Mr Christopher Nolan

    First off I would like to just let you know that you are by far the most visionary, brilliant and awesome film director in the history of film. I love all your movies not because they have such superb plots, characters, scripting and cinematography but also because you make us (the audience) think and that is something special and unique 🙂

    So my questions are:
    1.What is your favorite movie you have directed so far?
    2.Where do you begin with a movie like Inception?
    3.What keeps you going throughout the production phase?
    4.What was it like working with such extraordinary talent such an amazingly talented cast?

    Thanks heaps Chris for taking the time to answer my questions.


    July 8, 2010 at 7:22 am | Reply
  26. Fabian

    Here's my question for Christopher Nolan

    "Is it possible that you are going to make small arthouse films?"

    July 8, 2010 at 7:41 am | Reply
  27. Chris

    I had a question, Mr. Nolan.

    Do you have any original ideas of yours that are either in script form or still in your head that would be on a low budget now? It seems you always up the ante (not saying this in a bad way), but will you just continue to push your scale or will you eventually scale down on your future original film ideas?

    Hello to Chris from Chris in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:42 am | Reply
  28. jeannie

    what is it about the human psyche that fascinates you so much?

    July 8, 2010 at 8:56 am | Reply
  29. Glen Saward

    can my comment be edited sorry i am from Victoria, Australia

    July 8, 2010 at 9:28 am | Reply
  30. Amir

    What political message do you feel the Dark Knight conveyed, if any? If none at all, what do you feel was the key theme or idea behind the film?

    July 8, 2010 at 10:53 am | Reply
  31. SaintPetersburg

    Hi Chris,

    I was wondering if you could open up about Heath's process as much as possible. How he approached the work on the scenes, how he got into the physicality of the role, how he imrprovised, how he used to the width of the shot to his advantage, etc.

    Also, can you talk about the difference between the process of somebody like Heath versus Dicaprio?

    And can you finally tell us that the ever so great Tom Hardy will be in Batman 3?

    July 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  32. Loren Amsden

    Mr. Nolan,

    Are you, in any sense, a Buddhist?

    Loren Amsden

    July 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  33. Tyrell Houlder

    Hello Mr. Nolan,

    I would LOVE to know what other films (beside batman or superman) would you plan on doing. Original or anything based? Also what is your take on video games to film adaptations?

    Thank you for making great films!

    Also, I am typing from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    July 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  34. John

    Mr. Nolan – what entertainment (movies, TV shows, whatever) do you really enjoy that you think people wouldn't expect?

    July 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  35. John

    Oops, I'm writing from Los Angeles. Sorry!

    July 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  36. SaintPetersburg

    forgot to mention that I am writing from New Jersey

    July 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  37. Joe

    Mr Nolan,

    1) Any favorite authors?
    2) Does your brother Jonathan have any aspirations to direct a film?
    3) How much pressure do you feel to follow up on such a huge success like TDK?
    4) Have you read any other comic books other than Batman that you enjoyed?

    Congratulations on Inception it sounds like it's fantastic. Will see it opening night.
    I'm from Ontario,Canada.

    July 10, 2010 at 2:59 am | Reply

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