“MOON” director, Duncan Jones
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Friday, Jan. 23, 6:15 pm — Eccles Theatre, Park City]
Moon was a challenge to write. There were a set of pretty stringent criteria that we had come up with for ourselves in order to give us the best chance of getting the film made.
I had to keep in mind a very limited budget, keep the cast as small as possible, write something that would best be done in a controlled, studio environment all while utilizing a very specific set of visual effects that would maximize production value for minimum cost. All that, and we didn’t want it to feel like a little
British film. To quote Donald Rumsfeld, these were the “known knowns.”
I knew from before I began that I wanted Sam Rockwell to play the lead. I was writing it specifically for him, so it had to have something fundamentally challenging or at least exciting for him to get his teeth into as an actor, but the film as a whole also needed to have mainstream appeal.
I have always been a fan of science-fiction films. In my mind, the golden age of sci-fi cinema was the ’70s, early ’80s, when films like Silent Running, Alien, Blade Runner and Outland told human stories in future environments. I wanted to make a film that felt like it could fit into that canon.
Gavin Rothery, my concept artist and longtime fellow nerd, and I also knew that by going in that direction we could use old-school techniques, model miniatures, a retro (and cost-effective) production design and then build a layer of contemporary CG effects on top of it to create a hybrid live-action/CG look. It’s something we had done numerous times in commercials, and it creates a sumptuous and textured look beyond what you get with pure CG. But it’s something you don’t see much of in feature films.
This became the underlying armature I would have to build my story on top of, these restrictive but in some ways inspiring criteria.
It didn’t take long to nail the location. The Moon always seemed to me to be an obvious place to do a science fiction film; it has floated above our head since civilization began and yet it still remains so mysterious. It’s a location that everyone could relate to, and I wanted Sam’s story to be something that everyone could also relate to.
It occurred to me that I could address many of the criteria we had set ourselves if Sam were to play multiple roles. Sam would get a challenge as an actor, I could keep my cast small and as a team we could focus most of our efforts on achieving a very specific type of visual effect. Cloning seemed to fit well into the embryonic story I was playing with of a man stuck in a moon base. But cloning is just about bodies. Identical twins are technically clones. What matters is what’s inside, and if that’s the same… or in Moon’s case, three years apart, what happens? That’s when I got excited. It was a pure, universal and important question that I didn’t believe I had seen addressed in many films (filmophiles out there, if I’m wrong, please forgive me,): “If you met you in person, would you like yourself?”
I think it’s the most brutal, honest and human question there is…and that makes it perfect for sci-fi.”