I was first introduced to Christopher Nolan on Tuesday, May 5th at 1:00pm, when he and his assistant were brought over to the cinema by Walker's Senior Film Curator and Program Manager. At the time he met everyone working on the Regis Dialogue for the evening, but then requested to see my projection booth.
I gave Nolan a tour of my booth, then we chatted for a short period of time about projection equipment, different film formats. He thought it was especially fantastic that the Walker's Kinoton projectors could switch between 16mm and 35mm, then he said, "I heard you ran a 70mm print of Interstellar here in the state." He asked if Walker ever considered putting in 70mm projectors. I explained, "It was discussed, but ultimately scrapped because 70mm didn't have the pull or interest even 4/5 years ago. It was only a year later that Paul Thomas Anderson would release The Master on 70mm, then you would bring 70mm to the forefront, now Quentin Tarantino and JJ Abrams will be releasing films on 70mm." At the time we needed to begin the tech-check for the clip session with Nolan and Scott Foundas.
A week prior to Tuesday's Dialogue, Chief Film Critic for Variety magazine, Scott Foundas, sent me a list of all six clips he wanted to run through-out the duration of the Dialogue. The idea being, he and Nolan would discuss a particular film and the themes, etc on stage, then I would project a specific clip out on screen. Because the clips were 35mm, I had very specific in and out points to follow. For instance, when I got an in-point time of 01hr 26min 41sec for The Dark Knight, I know that's at the beginning of reel 5, so I begin searching through reel 5 to find and mark the clip, prepping it for show. The afternoon clip session was done primarily for Nolan and Foundas, to see if they approved of the ins and outs I selected. Nolan and Foundas approved of all clips.
By some miracle, at the very last minute I was able to get Dave a ticket for the Dialogue, so sure enough Dave was the second to last person picked to ask Christopher Nolan a question during the Q&A. Dave stood up, took the microphone, told Nolan he had ran a 70mm print of Interstellar perfectly for 10 weeks straight at Willow Creek, explained his love for film, the importance of keeping it alive, to which Nolan smiled and Dave received a loving, warm round of applause from 339 people in the auditorium.
After the Q&A wrapped up, Dave came up into the booth to look at my equipment. About five minutes into me giving Dave a tour, one of my colleagues opens the booth door, "Mr. Justin, Christopher Nolan has requested your presence in the green room." I leave the booth and walk back stage.
Nolan, Scott Foundas and a few others are enjoying some post-show snacks in the green room. Nolan smiles, shakes my hand and thanks me for "running a smooth clip show", he went on to say, "It's nice to see someone so young have an interest in running 35mm film."
I added, "You know the second to last gentleman you picked for the Q&A? That's my Jedi Master, he's the one that trained me in 13 years ago at Willow Creek. He's the reason I do what I do. He trained me in on 70mm."
Foundas and Nolan begin to smile after I mention this. Nolan adds, "You know, I was thinking that in the back of my mind when he said he ran Interstellar in 70mm. Because you just seem so young to know so much about 70mm." I laughed a little bit, as did Nolan and Foundas. At the time, I asked both of them if I could get a photo, to which they said it would be their pleasure.
For all the loud, epic, intense and busy films he makes, he's a very calm, quiet and peaceful person. And that's the story of when I met Christopher Nolan.