How Christopher Nolan got started

Before you land your 8-picture deal with Warner Brothers, you’re going to need a way to make a living as a filmmaker.  Christopher Nolan knew that.  I know that.

That’s why I gave Christopher Nolan his first job in filmmaking.

In this historic photo from the early 1990s, directors Brian Barnes and Christopher Nolan (‘Inception’, ‘Interstellar’, ‘Memento’ and ‘The Batman Trilogy’) pose with friends Ivan Cornell and David Savva (story consultant on ‘Batman Begins’)

In this historic photo from the early 1990s, award-winning directors Brian Barnes (‘The Redeeming’ and ‘The Urge’) and Christopher Nolan (‘Inception’, ‘Interstellar’, ‘Memento’ and ‘The Batman Trilogy’) pose with friends Ivan Cornell and David Savva (story consultant on ‘Batman Begins’)

Chris worked for me for about a year in the mid-1990s as my camera operator on various corporate videos in my studio in the West End of London.

I met Chris right at the time he was graduating from UCL and needed a job.  I saw his early shorts and realised this man had talent.  Of course, I had no idea how huge his talent was, but I could see that he would be an asset to my organisation, so I hired him on the spot.

“Like a rabbit in the headlights”

One of my favourite memories of working with Chris was when we were helping to run a training course for new journalists on behalf of one of the major news broadcasters here in London.

There were 2 official trainers, about 6 or 7 trainee journalists and my crew and I providing the studio facilities to enable the trainees to make a multi-camera news show.

At one point, one of the trainee directors got completely confused about her camera sequence and was just utterly stuck like a rabbit in the headlights.  Neither of the trainers could help her see her way out.

At this point, Chris stepped in and gave her a few tips, which helped her out of her hole and the day continued.

It’s always amused me that that woman was taught to direct by one of our greatest contemporary film directors, but she was so flustered at the time that she’ll probably have no memory of the man or the event!

“Look for every opportunity to make your living filmmaking”

The lesson here to all up-and-coming filmmakers is to look for every opportunity to make your living in filmmaking.

I can think of no better place to start than corporate videos.  Just ask Christopher Nolan.

You can find more tips about working in corporate videos on this site.  You can download a free guide on making a living as a filmmaker using the button below.

(And, yes, I did a *tiny* bit of work on Christopher Nolan’s films ‘Doodlebug’ and ‘Following’.)



10 thoughts on “How Christopher Nolan got started

  1. Actually I think this is among the most vital information for me. And I am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, the web site style is ideal, the article is really excellent. Thank you for sharing with us. I think it would be effective for all. Good job, cheers! Invites you to read.

  2. Sir, your materials and blogs are the best for any aspiring film maker.. they are not only inspiring but also are bent upon teaching the survival skills to thrive as a film maker

  3. Great article Brian! Amazed by what you’ve achieved. Glad to had the opportunity to work with you!

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