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Trivia on the film Moon

When I saw Moon there followed a Q&A session with the film’s director, Duncan Jones. What follows is a bit of a brain dump of some of what I felt were the more interesting things raised. Spoilers throughout, so don’t read until you’ve seen the film.

There were four ways of filming Sam: one was to use a body double, acting alongside Sam; two was to film Sam doing one half of the conversation with a static camera, then shoot again doing the other half with the camera in the same place; three was to use a robotic camera capable of following the same path multiple times to the same schedule, shooting the scene twice then putting them together in post-production, removing/replacing bits of Sam as and when appropriate; four was a mixture of the previous three to allow one Sam to touch the other.

To pull off the effect of one Sam touching the other, they would shoot the scene with Rockwell’s arm tied behind his back, leaning his shoulder against a tennis ball on the wall as a mark point. Then they’d shoot the scene again with him in the second place, his body double in the first place, the body double’s shoulder leaning against the tennis ball but actually doing the touching action. In post, they would then splice the double’s arm onto Sam’s body, giving the illusion of the two clones touching.

The use of the song “We’re Walking on Sunshine” is a dig at Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.

While filming at Shepperton, a load of big-budget, big-name productions (such as Ridley Scott’s Nottingham) shut down because of the writers’ strike, leaving Moon the only production still going. The result of this was a load of highly-talented crew wandering around looking for things to do, and Jones ended up getting the man who did the model work for Alien’s Nostromo to do the model work for Moon.

The woman that Sam keeps seeing is his grown-up daughter, the implication being that all the Sams — originals and clones alike — are in some way connected. See also the bit where one Sam is sleeping and dreaming of the trapped Sam.

Jones’ next film is to be SF again, and will be set in the same universe as Moon, around the same time but a different, unrelated story, and set in Berlin. He described his next film as a “love letter to Blade Runner”. Sam Rockwell has agreed to a small cameo as the original Sam Bell. The film is currently titled Mute

Kevin Spacey recorded his lines in an afternoon. Jones’ told him that they had flirted with the idea of approaching Christopher Walken for the role if Spacey wasn’t interested, so Spacey did some of the lines while impersonating Walken, just to show Jones how bad a choice that would have been.

They experimented with a more scientifically-accurate vision of the Moon — no visible stars and silence on the surface — but abandoned the idea as it didn’t work dramatically; it just looked like someone pulling a model across a fake lunar surface.

Use of the Chesney Hawkes’ song as a wake-up call always gets a laugh in the UK; in the US, the clapper-driven TV and the haircutting apparatus get bigger laughs.

The idea of mining the Moon for Helium-3 came from a book by Harrison Schmitt, entitled Return to the Moon, which explores how space could be explored in a financially-viable fashion.

Jones described GERTY as being ‘the anti-HAL’. He figured everybody would expect the machine to be the villain of the piece, when what actually happens is that GERTY just carries on with his program of keeping Sam safe, mentally and physically, subverting our expectations.

By Paul Haine, in