Despite consistently churning out visual spectacles, Christopher Nolan’s approach to filmmaking remains very traditional. I mean that as a compliment. While many directors today increasingly turn to CGI and VFX shots, Nolan prefers using practical shots and effects. To put things into perspective, an article on Collider states that
Avengers: Endgame reportedly featured more than 2,000 VFX shots — a number that Nolan has likely only approached with Interstellar. Even Nolan’s superhero outings had relatively little VFX shots (620 in Batman Begins and 450 in The Dark Knight Rises). What about his mind-bending espionage epic, Inception? 500 VFX shots.
But it looks like he has really outdone himself this time around. In an interview with ICG Magazine, Tenet editor Jeffifer Lame said that there are less than 300 VFX shots in the entire movie. Nolan concurred, saying that it has fewer VFX shots than most romantic comedies.
“The visual side of the film is huge in scale, but our VFX shot count is probably lower than most romantic comedies. Visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson was responsible for coming up with our safety net. We wanted it all in-camera, but if it couldn’t be done, what choices are there in post-production? I like to say Andrew kind of bid himself out of a job because he helped us achieve such an enormous amount practically. There were still very complicated visual effects for the team at Double Negative, but Andrew’s expertise and background in on-set effects benefitted us enormously.”
Nolan also credited his cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who worked together with Nolan on his past two films, as well as Tenet.
“The director/DP relationship is at least as important as the one I establish with a lead actor. The greatest DPs help you find a storytelling balance between creative exploration and practical execution.”