Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell and John Nolan
Country: United Kingdom
Running Time: 70 min
Year: 1998

Everybody knows Christopher Nolan. His trilogy of Batman films are widely considered to be some of the greatest comic-book movies ever made. Interstellar and Inception are science-fiction staples. His latest film Oppenheimer is currently the second-highest grossing R-Rated film of all time and it’s only been out for a month and a half. If Christopher Nolan is attached to a project, it’s guaranteed that there’ll be eyes on it. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1990s, Nolan had yet to direct anything feature length and after some experience with short films, he decided to get to work on his debut film, Following.

Made for £6,000 and shot over the course of four months, Following is the definition of an independent feature. With the crew consisting mostly of friends and family, everybody involved poured their hearts into bringing Christopher’s vision to life and in 1998, at the San Francisco International Film Festival, the world was introduced to Nolan.

Following tells the tale of a writer who has a strange pastime. While walking around London in his spare time, he likes to shadow random individuals around. But when he becomes particularly obsessed with one person who notices he’s being shadowed, the writer’s life becomes intertwined with burglars, murderers and gangsters. 

It’s an interesting film in many ways, even though I wouldn’t consider it a great one. The performances are all adequate and the on-going narrative, while having a lot of intrigue on display, doesn’t have a whole lot engaging going on, unfortunately. Like many of Nolan’s films that would come after, Following is told in a non-linear fashion and even though a lot of the technical aspects don’t compare to his future work, the foundations of his directorial style are present here. It’s an admirable film that didn’t fully captivate me in the ways I was hoping, but more than anything, it offers a unique portrait into the world of an up-and-coming Christopher Nolan.

I’m a fan of the filmic look of Following as well as the eerie score by David Julyan, who’d work with Nolan again in the future on Memento, The Prestige and Insomnia. There’s this off-kilter feel whenever you hear the score play that I really liked and as the interview with Julyan highlights on this disc, it has this Tangerine Dream feel to it which really stuck out to me. 

While I’m not in love with it, Following is a time capsule and the debut of one of the most prolific directors of our generation. It’s rough, amateur and flawed, but when you take into consideration that it’s a passion project that the cast and crew spent months of their lives working on, it’s something that’s hard to really dislike. It’s the definition of a no-budget feature where the end-goal wasn’t commercial success or critical acclaim, it was to create a piece of film that would fulfil those involved and in that regard, Following succeeds. 


Following comes out on Limited Edition Blu-ray from 101 Films on September 11th. It’s title number 30 in their ‘Black Label’ collection and I viewed the Blu-ray. The transfer is great, and seems to be identical to the US Criterion release, with the film even opening with the Criterion Collection logo at the start. Image quality is clear and the transfer looks faithful to the 16mm source material. Given the lower budget nature of the film, there’s some audio hiccups that are a product of making a film for £6,000, but none of them are distracting to the end product. The following bonus features are included: 

Special Features:

• Commentary with Actor Jeremy Theobald and Film Critic James Mottram
• Unfollow – Director Christopher Nolan on Following
• Dreamcatching – Producer Emma Thomas on Following
• Wandering – Actor Jeremy Theobald on Following
• The Blonde – Actor Lucy Russell on Following
• Backtracking – Editor Gareth Heal on Following
• Setting the Pace – Composer David Julyan on Following • Pay Attention – Jonathan Nolan on Following
• Following in their Footsteps – Actors Jeremy Theobald & Lucy Russell revisit exterior locations from Following
• Doodlebug – Short Film by Christopher Nolan
• Theatrical trailer
• Limited Edition Booklet: What’s in the box? Lifting the lid on Christopher Nolan’s debut Following by James Mottram and Lingering Shadows: A look at Christopher Nolan’s early neo-noir, Following by Andrew Graves. 

Audio Commentary – Lead actor Jeremy Theobald and film critic James Mottram lead this commentary track, which is a fairly dry affair. Still, it’s an informative listen and the pair discuss some of the production issues, goofs and more. Theobald speaks highly of the experience and Mottram did his homework on Following and the work of Nolan. Overall, it’s a decent listen.

Unfollow – A brand new interview with director Christopher Nolan, where he touches on why he wanted to make Following. Influences such as the low-budget success of Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi. He also talks about blockbusters like Star Wars and the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me being an influence on Nolan’s movie-making ambitions. Nolan’s always a delight to listen to, and hearing the process of creating Following was incredibly interesting. It’s a great interview.

Dreamcatching – An interview with producer Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan’s wife. She recounts her first cinematic experiences, meeting her husband at university and watching all of the latest films, such as Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Thomas also dives into the experiences making Following. An insightful interview.

Wandering – An interview with actor Jeremy Theobald. Theobald discusses how he met Christopher Nolan, his early experiences in film prior to working with Nolan, as well as their work together on Following. He explains that he and Nolan shot the short film Doodlebug while in the middle of shooting Following, which was interesting to learn about. Hearing Theobald talk about getting bruised ribs after some of the more intense violent sequences in the film was also interesting.

The Blonde – An interview with actress Lucy Russell. Russell discusses how the project came to her, including a funny story about the audition process. She details her theatre background, and how Following was her first film experience and she wanted to challenge herself with it.

Backtracking – An interview with editor Gareth Heal. Heal talks about his early work as an editor, before meeting Christopher Nolan and editing Following. It was an interesting listen, especially hearing how the complications with editing the film to fit the non-linear method of storytelling. The most technical of the interviews, but a worthwhile watch.

Setting the Pace – An interview with composer David Julyan. Julyan talks about where his love for music came from, as well as its influences such as Tangerine Dream that made him want to explore music. He also details how Following was shot almost exclusively on weekends over the course of six months. A solid interview.

Pay Attention! – An interview with grip Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan’s brother. Similar to Chris, he talks about his film influences growing up and mentions the big blockbusters like Ghostbusters, Top Gun and Back to the Future, as well as films such as Akira and Fitzcarraldo. Jonathan is enthusiastic and jokes about spoiling films for his classmates growing up. His memories of helping Christopher with Following are a great listen too.

Following in their Footsteps – A locations featurette with actors Jeremy Theobald & Lucy Russell. It runs for around 11 minutes, and has the pair revisiting locations where Following was shot while reminiscing on how things were during the shoot. Footage from the film is played next to the newly filmed footage, and it’s a fun viewing.

Doodlebug – An early, three minute short film directed by Christopher Nolan. Out of all of his work, I’d say it’s easily the most horror influenced and also feels inspired by the work of David Lynch. It’s full of ominous music and unsettling cinematography. It’s a really solid short film that puts you into the perspective of the paranoid protagonist.

A theatrical trailer is also included.

I wasn’t provided with a copy of the booklet, but it contains the following (no pun intended) essays: Lifting the Lid by James Mottram and Lingering Shadows by Andrew Graves.

While the film itself didn’t do much for me, I applaud 101 Films for putting all the stops out to deliver a jam-packed release with extras galore, the solid Criterion Collection scan that UK viewers have been missing out on for 11 years and a release with new essays included. It’s another great addition into 101’s Black Label and is worth picking up for fans of Christopher Nolan. 


Where to watch Following
Following - 101 Films
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