Movie director Christopher Nolan is quickly becoming a legend in Hollywood. Although he’s directed a number of memorable films, you may know him best as the 44 year old director of a trio of “Batman” movies, which together grossed $2.5 billion at the global box office. As he releases his latest film, “Interstellar,” he’s as respected as anyone in Hollywood and studios pay him as much as they do top stars. For instance, Warner Brothers Studios gives him a great studio deal with no strings attached. And in spite of his personal passions (some would say eccentric) like shooting traditional film over digital technology, his preference for IMAX, and his team’s desire for extreme secrecy, he’s given enormous latitude by studio executives. Obviously, his talent has a great deal to do with it, but when you look beneath the obvious, there’s a number of interesting things he values that most of us could learn from. For instance:
1. He doesn’t have a cell phone or email account. It could be to add to his mystery, or perhaps he understands the importance of focus when it comes to massive projects. You can’t execute $100+ million movies and be distracted by the need to Instagram your every move.
2. He’s not excessive. For his latest movie “Interstellar,” insiders say the studio was prepared to spend up to $200 million. But he kept the budget at $165 million. That’s significantly less. There’s not many directors out there today that wouldn’t have asked for it all.
3. He has a reputation for delivering movies on schedule and under budget. Want to inspire loyalty and confidence from your boss? Do the same with your projects – whatever the size.
4. He doesn’t play the “artist” card. While he knows what he wants, he ultimately creates movies that are remarkably close to what he pitched the studio and the investors. He doesn’t play creative games, and delivers on his promises.
5. He wears a suit. (Yes, you heard me.) In an age where movie directors (and even major CEO’s) show up in jeans and a t-shirt, he dresses well. Say what you like, but when you look important, people treat you that way.
6. In spite of his success, he’s remarkably humble. Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios and former president of Warner Brothers said, “I’m continually impressed by his self-deprecation and humility, but with that comes supreme confidence.” That’s something to remember. Humility doesn’t come from insecure people, it comes from people who see the big picture.
I’m not a fan of following anyone’s “10 Steps to Success,” but watching Nolan’s career, these principles stood out as something worth noting. I’d love to know if you think any of these ideas could help your own career…..