Christopher Nolan is one of the most successful directors of the last two decades. He shot to fame with his 2000 film Memento, and hasn’t looked back since.

He has made some of the biggest films in recent memory, including The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and more.

However, there is something that almost everyone who has seen a Christopher Nolan film can agree on: they are confusing.

His films are often hard to understand and even harder to follow. This is not necessarily a bad thing — it doesn’t stop them from being great movies. But this has led many people to wonder: what is Christopher Nolan’s directing style?

Well, that’s exactly what we are going to find out in this article! And we’re going to start by looking at a question you might be asking yourself right now…

christopher nolan’s directing & Screenwriting Tips

What Is christopher nolan’s directing style?

Christopher Nolan is a renowned English-American film director, producer and screenwriter. His directorial style is known for a distinctive visual style. He is best known for his creative and innovative approach towards movies.

Nolan is a highly ambitious director and has always tried to incorporate something new in each of his films.

He is best known for directing some of the highest-grossing films in history, including The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, and Interstellar.

Trying to understand the mind-boggling direction process Christopher Nolan uses can be extremely challenging.

His storied process contains many different steps, which he credits to his years spent working as a screenwriter before ever becoming a director.



Before we jump into what makes up Christopher Nolan’s directing process, you should know that the man has an incredible memory. One of his greatest strengths when dealing with a script is storyboarding.

This enables him to create extremely detailed drawings of every single scene in his head before even stepping on set. Christopher Nolan is also able to absorb an incredible amount of information as a child due to an issue with dyslexia.

His struggles with reading allowed him to develop skills for absorbing visual information at a much faster rate than most others just by watching television or reading comic books.

With this skill, he began building the foundation for his other talents such as cinematography and sound editing.

How Christopher Nolan Works With Time

Movie buffs love to talk about time, specifically how directors manipulate it. Watch any film by Christopher Nolan and you’ll see he has a thing for time.

Tossing aside linear storytelling, the Dark Knight director makes movies with non-linear narratives that unfold in a mosaic of memories, dreams, and fantasy sequences. 

He also uses real-time and altered or stretched out time — he’s even been known to go into bullet time, where everything is slowed down — like in the famous scene when Batman played by Christian Bale takes on a room full of mobsters at once.

Time isn’t just a narrative device in Nolan’s films, it’s a theme, too. In his latest film Interstellar, astronauts travel through a wormhole in space to find a new home for humanity because Earth is no longer hospitable.

Nolan tells CBS News’ Anthony Mason how he came up with the idea for his movie: 

“We started talking about it about five years ago and had worked on many different ideas over that period of time and hadn’t hit upon one that felt fresh enough and exciting enough,” Nolan said. “And then I had this idea of the sort of bending space to go through it.”

Christopher Nolan Script Writing Process

His movies deal with complex and philosophic themes, and he has a reputation for being one of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood.

He is also known for being very secretive about his work process. When Nolan was asked about this in an interview, he said that he starts writing without an idea of where the story will go, but with a central theme or event such as “What if the world stopped making sense?” 

In other words, he uses a question as a starting point.

After deciding on a question, he creates a structure for the story by using index cards. Each card represents a scene or episode in the film and each card contains two elements: an image to help him visualize the scene and words that capture what happens in the scene.

For example, one card might have an image of two men fighting, with words that say “One man can’t see” or “One man can’t speak.” Nolan says that while writing these cards, many ideas occur to him that doesn’t make it into the movie.

The act of writing down the ideas helps him understand their relevance to the story and decide whether they need to be included or not.

Screenwriting Wisdom From Christopher Nolan

“Screenwriting is a craft. You can learn the basics from books, but you have to do the work to get better.

I’ve read a lot of scripts, and I’ve written quite a few myself, so I know about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Treat your writing like a job.

If you’re not getting paid for it, then it’s not real work. The good news is that working on your craft doesn’t require much time.

For example, I set aside one day each week specifically to work on my next screenplay. I don’t write that day – I only focus on other elements of my script that need work.

And because I’m not writing, I’m not distracted by the story and can focus on my weaknesses as a writer. This practice allows me to quickly identify my strengths and weaknesses as a screenwriter.

I find if I try to write something new every day or even multiple times per week, it feels like work and I don’t make any progress because more important things in life will come up and shove the screenplay out of my head until later when they are taken care of. 

But by setting aside one specific day each week for refining my craft, it becomes a scheduled time for me to lock myself in a room with no distractions.”

Creative Process Of Christopher Nolan

While he is often credited as a visual filmmaker, Nolan’s movies feature intricate storylines, impressive performances, and complex characters. These factors make his films unique, but they also reveal how he crafts his films through the creative process.

Nolan is known for writing his scripts and directing his films. However, he often collaborates with other people who help him shape the story further.

In an interview with the American Film Institute, Nolan described how he comes up with ideas for his films: 

“I always write my own original stories. What I do is try to imagine something that hasn’t existed before or invent something that doesn’t exist in the world, and then I write about it.

Sometimes I’m trying to create an illusion that something is happening on screen that hasn’t happened before. Other times I’m trying to take a familiar idea and look at it from a new perspective that might reveal something about it we haven’t seen before.”


What Is Christopher Nolan Best Known For

Christopher Nolan made his feature film debut after completing a short film with his brother, Jonathan Nolan.

The two brothers created the short film Doodlebug and won acclaim for their work at the 1997 Slamdance Film Festival. Afterwards, Christopher Nolan began working in television, directing episodes of hit shows like The X-Files and Millennium.

He also wrote a screenplay based on the Stephen King story, Memento, which was released in 2000 to critical acclaim. His first major blockbuster hit came in 2005 with Batman Begins.

He would continue to direct another two films in that series as well as other big-screen hits including Inception and Interstellar. In 2014 he was awarded an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) for his work on the mystery-thriller film, Gravity.

Christopher Nolan Directing And Screenwriting – Wrapping Up

Nolan is a director that has produced some of the best superhero movies of all time, as well as some of the best movie franchises ever. 

His final film in the Dark Knight Trilogy grossed a total of $1 billion worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing movies ever. Truly, Nolan has made an impact on Hollywood and its fans alike.

His movies have moved filmgoers to tears or entertained them with action-packed fights. He has created some fantastic stories that are truly awesome to watch unfold right before our very eyes.

Nolan’s work has been nominated for several awards, including three Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. He has also been nominated for seven Saturn Awards and won two.

He has also won many nominations for the BAFTA Film Award, including Best Director for Inception. Nolan is a man who is passionate about filmmaking and continues to make great movies that make his viewers think about what they have just seen.

There are many other directors out there who do not take the time to create a perfect product, but Nolan makes sure he takes his time to present us with something we can enjoy for years to come.