Christoper Nolan hates CGI and prefers to use practical effects for insane shots.

Here are 5 gems.

1/ INTERSTELLAR: Nolan spent $100k to plant 500 real acres of corn in Alberta. After filming, he sold the crop for profit.


You know that spinning hallway where Joseph-Gordon Levitt is fighting some bad guys.

Yeah, Nolan built a giant rotating centrifuge and put a hallway in it along with ridiculously expensive cameras.


Batman flips Joker’s 18-wheeler truck.

To get the FX, a piston was put under the trailer with TNT. When the TNT blows, the piston hit the ground so hard, it flips the truck.

The only CGI used was to *remove* the piston from the shot.


Watched the film twice. Have no idea what the plot is, but mad respect for Nolan crashing a real 747 into an airport hangar.

Turns out it was cheaper to buy a 747 and crash it vs. doing CGI.


Nolan filmed this scene in the Scottish Highlands, and got government sign-off to drop an airplane fuselage into the mountain range.

The stunt crew was legit on the outside of the plane (jumped from a helicopter and wore parachutes).


Nolan’s newest movie (July 2023) is about the Manhattan Project and the making of the atom bomb.

The film apparently recreates a nuclear bomb with practical effects, which is objectively insane (but obviously very cool).
7/ If you enjoyed that, check out my Saturday newsletter on business and tech.

This week I’m writing about James Cameron, Avatar and Titanic (and prob Ceine Dion too, because she’s a legend).

There were ~400k people evacuated from Dunkirk in WWII.

With only a few 1000 extras,
the crew created “fences” made of cardboard cutouts of actors posing as soldiers.

Instead of CGI, 10s of thousands of cutouts were made and put up for far-off beach shots.

And here’s a whole thread of Hans Zimmer music in Nolan movies


Nolan’s partner in crime Christian Bale is equally dedicated to the craft

FYI: To prep on this thread, I used an AI-powered research app I made called Bearly AI.

Usually, I’ll read something then pull an instant summary for notes.

Try it out: Bearly.Ai

A great Nolan interview with BBC on why he prefers shooting on location and with cameras (vs. CGI).

One major reason: It’s “fun for the actors, it’s fun for me.”


Just put together links and notes for this Christopher Nolan and practical effects thread.

It has clarifications and FAQ.
A number of DMs pointed out an omission:

The hospital explosion in The Dark Knight is real and Nolan has a great explainer of how well Heath Ledger played the scene.



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Amazing thread! Read the whole thing and still no clue what's going on in Tenet.