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christopher nolan 6000 budget Inspiration

How Christopher Nolan Made A Feature Film With $6000

By Joseph Cha on January 23rd 2014

Where Do You Start?

We live in a technical time of opportunity. For $6,000 you can buy a capable DSLR set up, decent audio equipment, make a movie, and share it with the world on YouTube or Vimeo. There are many people out there who got their start and make a living making YouTube videos, and most of them didn’t start with much more than a Canon Rebel T5i.

15 years ago, things weren’t nearly as easy as they are now. Camcorders were much more expensive, computers and editing software were archaic in comparison to what they are capable of now, and the Internet was still in its infancy. But, that didn’t stop a young Christopher Nolan from making his movies.

Christopher Nolan’s $6000 Budget Feature Film

In 1998, Christopher Nolan was making his first feature film, but he was doing it with a budget of $6,000. When you only have a budget of $6,000 you have to make some compromises.

  • Film was shot on Saturdays when the cast and crew could meet
  • Christopher Nolan used his parent’s house to shoot some scenes
  • Everything was handheld except for one scene
  • The film was shot only with natural light

Do these circumstances look familiar? If you have ever made a film with friends, or participated in any low budget production, this is exactly that. Even with his low budget Nolan finished his first feature film, Following.

Christopher Nolan The Following
Although it’s clear that the film is critically acclaimed today, at the time completion, Following was having a hard time finding its place. Nolan couldn’t find a place to play it in England, so he took his feature to the American Film Festivals, where Slamdance allowed Following to secure distribution.

Christopher Nolan Interview

Nolan’s Breakout Moment With Memento

After Following, Nolan was given the opportunity to make his second feature, a film he had been planning since 1997, Memento. Nolan reveals that Brad Pitt had given an unintentional push to getting his mystery thriller feature film made.

“Truthfully, he did read the script,” said Nolan. “I mean, that’s where the story comes from, is he read the script and he met with me about it when he didn’t have any reason to know who I was or anything about it. And nothing came of it. Other than him being interested in it. I think within the sort of [talent] agency world where the script was circulating, just sort of perked up a bit of interest in what was a very obscure project, otherwise. And I think really that’s how it came to Guy Pearce’s attention, and you know, he sort of got the ball rolling.”

It was a very nice thing that he liked it.

After Memento, Christopher Nolan went on to direct The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises. And now, this summer, we have another film by Christopher Nolan to look forward to, Interstellar.

Interstellar Official Teaser Trailer

From Anonymous To Award Winning

It’s fascinating to see where Christopher Nolan started, because we are all familiar with his spectacular and grand movies. Nolan started off just like anybody else, making movies with the money in his pocket, and the time he had available on the weekends. At SLR Lounge, we love supporting the artists who are pursuing their vision, and that’s why we made the DSLR Gear Guide, to help guide those indie filmmakers who are looking to invest in equipment to make their dreams come true. So don’t give up on your dreams, cause who knows, maybe you’ll be next to direct Batman.

[Source: Mentorless and yahoo]


I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Parri

    ‘Following’ is a terrific film. It goes to show with a little equipment, a lot of planning and bags of determination you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

    Other credit card funded debuts to admire are Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks’ (love him or loathe him, it’s still a massive achievement) and Shane Carruth’s time travel mind-bender ‘Primer’, which was made for $7000.

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  2. Glenn f

    ever seen Peter Jackson’s ” Bad Taste” or ” Meet the Feebles” those are far superior Kiwi movies to his rather large budgets now…

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  3. Brent Stanley

    I dig this!

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  4. David Liang

    I love stories like this. A lot like how Tarantino got Harvey Keitel interested in Reservoir Dogs and the rest is history, or how Rodriquez made the original Desperado by maxing out his credit cards and donating his body to science for cash.

    When you think you’ve done all your can to push your projects, think about these guys stories and ask, have I really done all I can?

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  5. Hanssie

    Just shows that talent and luck trump budget. I guess that means I shouldn’t go buy a new camera and lens?

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