The Making of Following
The director shot the film himself on 16mm black and white film. Most of the filmmaking was handheld and much of it was done with only available light.
On many of the shoots, the entire production (cast, crew and all of the equipment) could be squeezed into a single London taxi.
Shooting was usually done on Saturdays over a year since all those involved had full-time jobs during the week.
Since the production's main expense was raw stock and processing, each scene had to be rehearsed extensively so that the film could be crafted from first and second takes.
Towards the end of the shoot, certain insert shots were made more difficult when some of the items which are stolen in one of the film's fictional burglaries were stolen for real during an actual burglary.
Christopher Nolan says about the making of his first full-feature:
"FOLLOWING was always planned as an ultra-low budget film, so the substance of the film was both inspired by and planned around the shooting style which we developed to accommodate our limited resources.
The script was written along the lines of what I see as the most interesting aspect of film noir and crime fiction; not baroque lighting setups and sinister villains, but simply that character is ultimately defined by action. In a compelling story of this genre we are continually being asked to rethink our assessment of the relationship between the various characters, and I decided to structure my story in such a way as to emphasize the audience's incomplete understanding of each new scene as it is first presented.
I saw the hand-held, black-and-white 16mm cinematography as a way of tapping into the cinematic feel of film noir, whilst giving it a different spin by shooting the scenes in a more modern documentary style. By operating the camera myself and by using minimal lighting, I was able to place the actors within each location in a relatively natural and interference-free environment. Extensive rehearsal in the months before shooting meant that on each shoot the actors were able to quickly and efficiently adapt the scene to the location we found ourselves in, and the hand-held, "newsreel" style camerawork let me be spontaneous in blocking out the scene, generally shooting just two long singles which were then intercut. I feel that this gave certain scenes an energy and spontaneity which would have been hard to achieve using more conventional production methods.
Even for a "no-budget" film our production methods were extreme. All of us were in full-time employment throughout the production, meaning that we were only able to shoot on Saturdays. As a result, it took us a year to get all the filming done, a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to pay for all the stock and processing from my salary without getting into debt. Knowing from the outset that our restrictive shooting "schedule" would require unusually dedicated actors, I asked Jeremy Theobald (for whom I had written the central role) to come on as a producer, and as such to help find the other actors we needed. Realizing that stage experience would be an asset in terms of getting through each scene first time (I needed a usable take every time we rolled the camera), Jerry looked back into his college drama society days and found Alex Haw and Lucy Russell, both of whom agreed to not cut their hair or leave the country unexpectedly for as long as it would take (I told them three months). We rehearsed two evenings a week for six months before shooting anything. The actors developed a familiarity with the material which meant that the finished film could be edited using almost exclusively first of second takes, and which allowed us to set up and shoot entire scenes in the two hours or so which we were sometimes given in our locations.
Locations were begged, borrowed, stolen... for the most part the film was shot in our own friends' flats. The main location was my parents' house, which worked perfectly - not only because the house is great, but also because the catering was excellent. The only hitch came when the house was burgled and ironically enough, some of the items which are stolen in one of our fictional burglaries, were stolen in real life. Thankfully we had most of what we needed although some of the inserts I had planned were now impossible to shoot.