This week, I’ve been looking into other industries to gain some perspective and knowledge that I can apply to my work in design. This week, it’s been film.
One of my favourite duos in filmmaking comes from the pairing of director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar) and the composer Hans Zimmer. For Interstellar, Nolan didn’t direct Zimmer on what to write so as to free him up in the creative process. Starting this way is virtually unheard of.
Nolan himself is passionate about “shooting in camera” and on film, only using visual effects to enhance the picture. He recognises that the industry is moving to digital, but wants to continue shooting on film because it has the “superior resolution and analog colour” that when projected, presents a unique experience that’s “very important”. He’s worked from the audience experience back to the technology.
Zimmer makes the point that he loves breaking the rules. He likes figuring out how to use woodwind and violin instruments in ways “you weren’t supposed to.” Recreating a ticking clock by hitting the violin strings with a pencil for example - it’s pure crazy! “Well, it sounds great - let me tell you” remarks Zimmer. And it does.
Using instruments in a unique way, recording in an old church rather than a recording studio and using the church organ itself as the principle instrument for a large-scale science fiction film fits the emotion of the story, rather that matching the genre.
What do I take from this?
They are experts in their craft. They’re not swayed by trends or what’s normal. They don’t plan everything on day one. They innovate and to do that, they hang on the emotion of the story and aim towards creating the very best work, contribute something original, not afraid to break “the rules.”
Personally, I just love basking in the excellence of experts pushing the envelope of their craft, rarely content with good and pushing for great relentlessly. Focusing on the details adds up to a high-quality product.
If you want to learn more, take a look at this documentary for how they created the Interstellar soundtrack. It’s perfect.
Another observation: They work on one project, deeply, for a couple of years, together, then move to the next one - something I’m trying to do in my work - work in weeks, rather than days and something I talked about at this week’s Winchester Creatives - check out the video below.
As ever, thank you for supporting this issue,