Christopher Nolan Cut ‘Oppenheimer’ Production Schedule to Allocate Budget to Los Alamos Production Design
ManOfTheCenturyMovie News Christopher Nolan Cut ‘Oppenheimer’ Production Schedule to Allocate Budget to Los Alamos Production Design

Christopher Nolan Cut ‘Oppenheimer’ Production Schedule to Allocate Budget to Los Alamos Production Design



Christopher Nolan Cut ‘Oppenheimer’ Production Schedule to Allocate Budget to Los Alamos Production Design

Christopher Nolan threw a bomb into the “Oppenheimer” production schedule: Originally slated for at least 85 days, the writer-director wrapped filming in 57 days. The reason for the rushed shoot? Allocating the film’s budget to production design.

During Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins’ “Team Deakins” podcast, “Oppenheimer” production designer Ruth De Jong revealed that Nolan achieved “the most incredible thing” for below-the-line crafts teams.

“It felt like a $100 million indie,” De Jong said. “This is not ‘Tenet’ (which shot for 96 days). Chris wanted to shoot all over the United States…just plane tickets alone and putting crew up all over the place (is expensive). Not to mention I have to build Los Alamos, it doesn’t exist. That’s where I really felt like it was impossible. Chris said, ‘Forget the money. Let’s just design what we want.’ So that’s what we did, and when construction first budgeted my town it was $20 million. Chris was like, ‘Yeah, no. Stop.’ We had this huge white model and I started pulling buildings out of it, not to mention we want to shoot in New York and New Jersey and Berkeley and Los Angeles and New Mexico.”

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De Jong recalled Nolan telling her “I’ve got to do my homework,” which meant reorganizing the production schedule to fund production design instead and “achieve all of the desired looks and designs.”

“Tom (Hayslip), the executive producer, said, ‘Ruth, you can’t go to Berkley, you can’t do this.’ But we have to go to Berkley. That is Oppenheimer!” De Jong continued. “The producers were asking what I could do on my end to shrink (the budget). Tom then comes into my office and says, ‘Chris is going to shoot this in 55 days.’ That is a lot of money we get back. At that point you feel like I have to deliver above and beyond because he just went and gave up his days. He, more than anyone, knows what he wants to get in every single day and how he wants to get it and he goes from 85 to 55 days.”

De Jong then had the freedom to build Los Alamos from the ground up in New Mexico. She previously told IndieWire that it was essential to recreate the original Los Alamos as the present-day town is “very modernized.”

“Chris and his son took a road trip out there. There’s a Starbucks on every corner and that sort of thing. So he said, ‘If you want to go see Los Alamos, you can go see it, but I’m not interested in shooting there,’” De Jong said.

Instead, De Jong constructed the town on 21,000-acre retreat Ghost Ranch, saying, “We wanted an overwhelmingly epic location that would help the audience understand what it meant for Oppenheimer to have taken his team to the middle of nowhere with nothing around.”

She added of production as a whole, “It was always challenging, but at the end of the day Chris and I were just always pushing for authenticity.”

“Oppenheimer” lead star Cillian Murphy confirmed during Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast that “Oppenheimer” filming took place across 57 days.

“We made the movie unbelievably quickly. We made it in 57 days,” Murphy said. “The pace of that was insane.”

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