ADG Perspective

November-December 2023

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1 3 6 P E R S P E C T I V E | N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 3 Fall 2021. I wrapped Nope on Tuesday and read the script for Oppenheimer on Wednesday. At one hundred eightly pages, it took half the day to get through. Written in first-person, it included detailed character descriptions, stage directions, settings and locations. Director Christopher Nolan laid out exactly how he wanted audiences to experience the film: looking through Oppenheimer's eyes, walking in his shoes—never judging him from afar. In addition, Chris planned to shoot on film in both color and black-and-white, with no computer-generated graphics (CGI). The directive was to shoot everything in camera, including all the visual effects, for the largest format possible—70mm and IMAX. (He'd tasked Kodak Film Lab with manufacturing its first-ever black-and-white 65mm film stock for this project.) My mind and heart raced with the scope and scale of this script. Not only would the film span wide physical distances/locations, but also four decades. My central concern was how and where to build the secret town of Los Alamos, a character in its own right. I also had a massive character study ahead of me, not just with J. Robert Oppenheimer but also with the fascinating personalities surrounding him. It felt necessary to craft a world that would facilitate audiences losing themselves in Oppenheimer's story, immersing themselves fully in his journey. When Oppenheimer was tapped to head the Manhattan Project, he was given the task of assembling a team and building a town in very little time, with very little pre-existing infrastructure. My brief felt similar, but with even less time and resources to do so! Chris and I worked closely together for about ten straight weeks ahead of the 12-week preproduction schedule—a tight ask for a period film that would go on to shoot in only fifty-seven days A B

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