Top 14 Christopher Nolan Quotes for filmmakers and screenwriters

In the week that Dunkirk hits the big screen, I thought I would share some of Chris Nolan’s most inspirational, educational and resonant quotes. If you enjoy these, check out the interview we did with him and his wife and producer Emma Nolan BEFORE they were a big deal (just after ‘Following’) HERE.

“Breaking rules isn’t interesting. It’s making up new ones that keeps things exciting.”

“I got into writing because no one’s going to give you a script to direct when you’re starting out, so, I started writing, just for myself, just to be able to direct things.”

“Everybody’s situation is unique, and the one thing I’ve learned is that instead of copying someone else’s model for a low-budget film, you really have to look at what you’ve got available and see how you can tell the story you want to tell, using the things that you have around you.”

“Every film should have its own world, a logic and feel to it that expands beyond the exact image that the audience is seeing.”

“if you can get a little bit of attention, a little bit of success on the festival circuit, people say, “Well, what would you want to do next?” And the tricky thing is, if you don’t have a specific thing, you can’t capitalize on that moment.”

“You’ve got to put everything into the one movie and just try and make a great movie because you may not get this chance again.” And then, when it succeeded, we were able to think about, “OK, what would we do in a sequel?”

“The screen is the same size for every story. A shot of a teacup is the same size as an army coming over the hill. It’s all storytelling.”

“As a director in the studio system, working in the commercial world of filmmaking, you have to pick your fights; you have to choose when you’re open to input, but you also have to show strong leadership. It’s a tricky balance.”

“You need time. And that doesn’t mean necessarily even working full-time on it itself; it means time to throw some ideas together and then let them sit, go off and do something else, come back and see what still feels right and everything.”

“If you want to be a filmmaker, make a film and enjoy it; don’t be thinking about what’s the next thing, the thing after that.”

“As a filmmaker, you know, no matter how positive things seem, you always notice the bad reviews, you always notice that the things people love are the same things other people hate, so you can’t react to that. To me, it’s all about doing what you believe in.”

“Films are subjective – what you like, what you don’t like. But the thing for me that is absolutely unifying is the idea that every time I go to the cinema and pay my money and sit down and watch a film go up on-screen, I want to feel that the people who made that film think it’s the best movie in the world, that they poured everything into it and they really love it.”

“If you’re trying to challenge an audience and make them look at elements in a different way, you’ve got to give them a familiar context to hang onto. But you have to be very aware that the audience is extremely ruthless in its demand for newness, novelty and freshness.”

“Keep trying to do great work.”

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
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