How Christopher Nolan Gets Rid of Distractions on Set

How Christopher Nolan Gets Rid of Distractions on Set

Christopher Nolan continues to give us of the best movies ever produced. My first Nolan movie was “Memento,” and I surely realized that the theme of his movies, his way of telling a story, and overall character portrayal was something I've never seen before. His vision and talent has given us many after that. “Inception,” “Interstellar” and now “Dunkirk.” His way of doing what he does is worth paying attention to. And when I read up about him, I came across an interview where he mentions how he removes distractions from the set. 

I've shot in studio with an assistant who kept running to his MacBook Pro at the start of each new look I had to capture. It was frustrating, and I called him aside and told him to focus on the day, not whatever is happening on his computer, even if he had a deadline to meet. He was paid, and he had work to do. 

Nolan doesn't allow any mobile phones on set, so all the staff have to put theirs in lockers or just leave them at home or in the hotel room.

“Phones have become a huge distraction, and people work much better without them,” Nolan told Esquire. “At first it causes difficulty, but it really allows them to concentrate on what they’re doing. Everybody understands. I’ve had a lot of crews thank me. With a set, we’re trying to create a bubble of alternate reality.”

It's an interesting point. Your team must be all-in, just like you are when you shoot. I quite liked this way of approaching a problem we are currently experiencing. When photographing or shooting a video, you need to create an alternate reality, and it is much easier to achieve if everyone on set, not just the model, steps into this idea with full determination. 

If you want to find out more about Nolan, watch this video below. 

We can surely remove the distractions in our photographic studios or while on location just like he does. The best way to do this is to explain to the model and team that you want to remove all distractions and that the work will reflect this in the end. 

Do you have any ways of having your team focus on the project? Please share it in the comments. 

[via The Playlist and Esquire]

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1 Comment
Joseph Moore's picture

Just a few years ago this would have been obvious advice that only complete newbs would need to hear. Now, it's almost a radical idea. Focus brings clarity, and clarity allows for excellence.

One way I have found to accommodate the new reality is to have scheduled "connection" breaks. Talent in particular can get really anxious if they have to disconnect for an entire shooting day.