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At Cannes, Christopher Nolan said he "couldn't get into film school"

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(Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Rita Molnár)

At a Q&A session with Christopher Nolan at Cannes (he's showing a 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey), he had some film school advice that was diametrically opposed to Alexander Payne's advice in the article last week:

When asked about forging a career without a film degree, Nolan clarified. "Just to be clear, I didn’t go to film school because I couldn’t get into film school," he said to chuckles. "My father knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, but he advised me to get what he referred to as 'a real degree in a real subject,' so I’d have something to fall back on."

The director continued: "So I studied English because that was the academic subject that I was best at. But what I found when I studied it, is (that) it greatly informed my filmmaking process, my writing process. I started to become more at ease with a lot of the literary concepts that underline film criticism.”

Studying English allowed him to study storytelling which is basically what film is all about. Although in terms of having a degree to "fall back on"... I'm not sure English is any more "valuable" than a film degree in that sense. At least degrees are free or close to it in most of Europe.

Still... honing your storytelling chops is without a doubt one of the best ways to prepare for a career in film.

UPDATE - Here's a new article with more tidbits from his Cannes interview: More interesting tidbits from Christopher Nolan's press gaggle at Cannes
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Chris W
Owner of FilmSchool.org and working as a Film & TV editor and producer in Los Angeles since 2001. Boston University College of Communication Class of 1999 for film (BS).

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