Christopher Nolan is the master of deconstructing time as a narrative structure. He's the seventh-highest grossing director of all time. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time and appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by his home country. Among his accolades, he's also proven to be a successful corn farmer.
Nolan has always rejected CGI for practical effects whenever possible, even going to some insane measures to do so. As a producer, it allows him to save money on his films. As a director, it allows him to have some of the most visually outstanding films of his generation.
The space-traveling Interstellar (2014) may have been his visual masterpiece. As always, he focused on practical effects. For this movie, that partly meant growing an entire field of corn.
In Interstellar, a plague called "The Blight" wiped out most of humanity's crops. It forces Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) to travel through space and time in search of a new home for the human race. Corn is one of the last two crops that earthlings could viably grow. The plant itself served as a MacGuffin to the main storyline, but Nolan still went all out in creating Cooper's cornfield.
Nolan's script said that Cooper's farm was surrounded by both cornfields and mountains. As it turns out, most places in the world don't have both corn and mountainsides. Adamantly against using computer effects to make it "look" right, Nolan and the studio planted a $100,000 cornfield outside of Calgary, Canada – a place where all experts said it wouldn't last.
It did last, and it turned a heavy profit. By the most conservative estimate, by selling the leftover corn not destroyed during filming, he made $162,000.
Of course, Nolan didn't care if the crop lasted, much less turned a profit. All that mattered was that he could create a true, genuine, beautiful shot of Cooper driving through a real cornfield.
Nolan told the Hollywood Reporter that he talked to fellow filmmaker Zack Snyder about the prospect of growing corn for film. Snyder had done the same thing for 2013's Man of Steel, a film Nolan produced. Snyder elected for CGI corn in the 2017 sequel Justice League, and the difference is stark.
Interstellar won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, the second of his three films that win the award (Inception in 2010, Tenet in 2020) – though the award goes to the visual effects team of DNEG rather than Nolan himself. In fact, the auteur has somehow never won an Oscar – not for his directing, screenwriting, or production.
Nolan will be releasing Oppenheimer later this year. With the announcement that he somehow shot an atomic bomb explosion scene practically, it looks like he's got his eyes set on another Visual Effects Oscar.