How to Write a Screenplay like Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

Do you have an idea that you think would make a great movie, TV show or webisode, but have no idea how to write a screenplay?  It is not uncommon for people to have a screenplay idea, but have no clue where to start.

Like many other skills in life, learning to write a solid screenplay takes a good amount of research, practice and repetition. The following are some things that you can do to help yourself learn:

  • Read screenplays
  • Understand the format of a screenplay
  • Watch television shows and movies
  • Study some of the most successful screenplay writers
  • Come up with an idea for a screenplay
  • Develop screenplay ideas through outlines and storyboards

Christopher Nolan is best known for his work on the Batman franchise and his 2010 film Inception. He has been described as one of the most accomplished and influential filmmakers of his generation. In total, his films have earned $3.5 billion worldwide, and they have been nominated for 21 Academy Awards. In July 2012, Nolan became the youngest director to be honored at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Christopher Nolan was born in London on July 30, 1970. Because he is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States (his mother is American), Nolan divided his childhood between London and Chicago. He began making short films at the age of seven using his father’s Super 8 camera. Nolan was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, and later studied English Literature at University College London. He chose that particular university specifically for its filmmaking facilities; Nolan was president of the college film society from 1992 until 1994, and another student at the university described him as, “talented and focused on learning as much as possible about the mechanics and technology of filmmaking.” Nolan graduated in 1993 and continued to associate with the film society while earning a living by directing corporate videos and industrial films before moving to Los Angeles, securing a freelance job reading screenplays.

Nolan directed his first feature film, Following, in 1998; the film depicts an unemployed writer who trails strangers through London in the hope that they will provide inspiration for his first novel. The film was made with a budget of only 3,000 Pounds Sterling, and was shot on weekends over the course of a year. It began to receive notice following a screening at the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival and eventually was distributed on a limited basis in 1999. As a result of the film’s success, Newmarket Films decided to option the screenplay for Nolan’s next film, Memento. The film follows amnesiac Leonard Shelby as he uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man who he thinks killed his wife. The film received a standing ovation at its premiere on September 5, 2000 at the Venice International Film Festival and became a box office success, in addition to receiving nominations for the Academy Awards.

Nolan followed the success of Memento with 2002’s Insomnia, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank. In 2005, Nolan co-wrote and directed Batman Begins. After Warner Brothers put the Batman film franchise on indefinite hiatus following negative reviews and disappointing returns on the fourth installment, Nolan and David S. Goyer convinced the studio to entrust the series to a relatively unknown director. The film Batman Begins, released June 15, 2005 to acclaim and commercial success, revived the franchise and heralded a new trend in super hero films; darker aspects of heroes’ backstories were revealed in the re-telling, or the series were rebooted altogether. Batman Begins earned distinction as the eighth highest-grossing film of 2005 and the ninth highest worldwide.

Taking time away from the Batman franchise, Nolan directed, co-wrote and produced 2006’s The Prestige. The film received a positive response from critics and made over $109 million worldwide. In 2008, Nolan released the sequel to Batman Begins, entitled The Dark Knight. Considered one of the best superhero films ever made, the film set numerous records during its theatrical run. Nolan went on to direct 2010’s Inception and to complete the Batman trilogy with 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. Despite the tragedy of a shooting at the premiere in Aurora, Colorado, The Dark Knight Rises became the thirteenth film to cross the $1 billion mark, and Nolan became the second film director to have two separate films doing so.

Nolan has been nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay twice, for Inception in 2010 and Memento in 2001. Inception was also nominated for Best Picture. Nolan won the 2001 American Film Institute Award for Screenwriter of the Year for Memento.  Memento also won a Critics Choice award for Best Screenplay. The Critic’s Choice Awards also recognized The Dark Knight in the category of Best Action Film in 2008 and Inception in the same category in 2010.

New Show Studios is a company designed specifically for everyday people with ideas for screens big and small (TV shows, movies, webisodes).  The company has all the resources under one roof to develop your screenplay idea into a concept package and present it to an entertainment company through its exclusive licensing agent, SFM Entertainment.  SFM Entertainment has over 40 years of experience in the entertainment industry.

Don’t be the person kicking yourself because you sat on your idea only to see it in theaters or on television one day, because someone else had a similar idea.  New Show Studios can help you take action and pursue your screenplay idea.


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