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Exclusive Interview – Duncan Jones. Director of Moon.


Moon is the cool looking science fiction film starring Sam Rockwell as a lone lunar miner who’s time on Earth’s satellite is almost over. During his last few days on the Moon things begin to get a little weird. The film is produced by Liberty Films and is the feature debut of director Duncan Jones.

I recently got in touch with Duncan to ask him a few questions about the film and himself. He was kind enough to take the time to answer them and provide me with the photos in this post.

He has some good advice for new filmmakers and it is always good to speak to a fellow computer game and comic book fan. I am itching to know what games and comics he wants to adapt, but he won’t say any more!

Without further ado here is the interview.

How did you get into filmmaking?

I kind of started filmmaking to begin with when I was a kid, got distracted during puberty and slowly made my way back after a long diversion into academia. I had been in grad school for a few years, was miserable and got the chance to work on a TV show Tony Scott was directing. He was incredibly cool and supportive and told me to get off my ass, go back to London and work my way into commercials as a route into films. I took his advice and about ten years later… made my first feature film!

Can you tell us a little more about your new film Moon?

Well, its an indie sci-fi film, but we were painstaking in the way we put it together to make sure it looked and felt like a much bigger film. For that reason alone, I am incredibly proud of the result, but the real coup was getting Sam Rockwell to not only be in the film, but to give what he himself admits is one of his best ever acting performances. Its smart sci-fi, but it’s also funny, sad, hopeful and very human. I think there’s a lot of goodness for all sorts of people in this film.
How did you get Sam Rockwell involved? If he had been unable to do it who else would you have liked for the part?

Sam and I met up about 3 years ago to discuss another project. That one didn’t work out, but we got on really well, and I knew I wanted him in my first feature no matter what, so I decided I would write something for him. It took about 9 months to get the script together, and about 3 more for him to agree to do it, but frankly, if he hadn’t agreed, I don’t know who else could have. It was very specific to his talents. Characters name was “Sam!”
Was Moon always planned to be a small 2000AD Future Shocks story or was it scaled down due to the budget?

Oh God yes! It was designed to be a low budget, “calling-card” first feature film, with a very heavy list of priorities and requirements as to what we hoped to achieve. It was like a military objective; make this film for this much money using these resources, at this time and knock the studios socks off so that NEXT time I get to make a REAL film! Fortunately everything went so well, we ended up with a film we could be proud of in its own right.
Would you do anything differently on your next feature?

Of course. This film was designed to succeed under incredibly adverse conditions; Not enough time, money, pre-production… all sorts. It worked out in the end, but we really gave ourselves the mother of all challenges making it. I’ll probably scoff at this in years to come, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in the future, I remember this as one of the most challenging films I ever had to make.

What is your favourite genre? Will you be sticking to science-fiction?

The next film will be sci-fi, but that is in no way the only kind of film I want to make. I would love to do some other genres. I was a little bummed to hear about Inglorious Basterds when Tarantino announced it, as I have always wanted to do a WW2 gang on a mission movie, but things are cyclical.. I may still get a chance. And frankly, I am just excited to see what he has made! Westerns, deffo… and as you mentioned 2000AD, there are certain stories and characters from that holy book I have wanted to make since I was a kid.
Your favourite piece of science-fiction technology?

The automated sentry gun in Aliens was the coolest thing I had ever seen, when that film came out… Deckard’s photo analysis computer from Blade Runner was right up there too. I know its not a film, but I NEVER felt like anyone captured cyberspace as I imagined it in William Giobson’s Neuromancer. Robocop’s ED-209… Winner!

Who are your favourite filmmakers?

Too many to mention.. its like asking “what’s your favorite food flavor?” Im inspired, in awe, shocked, angered, upset and more by all sorts of films, and even if I dont like a film, it informs and hopefully refines what I want to do in my own work. I admire visualists like Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Tim Burton and Luc Besson. I love story tellers like Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, I love mavericks like Robert Altman and Terry Gilliam. Sometimes I get as big a kick out of “bad” films as I do out of well made ones. Its a difficult, possibly impossible question to answer.

If you could have made one film, what would it have been?

If it was a film I admired, I dont think I would want to touch it, as I might break it… if it were crap to begin with, I would rather work on something of my own. Still… I was on “the twitter” the other day, talking about remakes, and did mention that I thought as sacriligious as it might be, I could see myself trying to remake Fritz Lang’s “M,” given half a chance.

What is your favourite video game of all time and what are you playing at the moment?

Oh! For sheer life changing, defining nerd making moment, it has to be Richard Garriot’s Exodus Ultima IIIon the c-64… I spent SO MUCH TIME drawing out maps one bloody step at a time on graph paper! hahaha… and then there was the Amiga 500. Oh man. Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, Dungeon Master, Lemmings, Shadow of the Beast, Neuromancer the game! Lots of great stuff… As for now, been giving WOW a revisit, but its not the game I want to play. Frankly the game I want doesnt exist. I may have to see if I can ever get the clout to have my rough designs for a game turned into something. Call of Duty “World at War” is a beautifully made game on the PC. I have consoles, but I still only really play games on the PC. Im old school that way.

Are there any comic books or video games you would like to adapt for the big screen?

Yes to the first, yes to the second and I’m afraid I couldnt tell you even if I wanted to. 😉

What film do you first remember watching?

Probably Errol Flynn’s “The Seahawks” I LOVED that film.. Pirates, heroes, adventures. Think its part of what gave me the desire to do a “guys on a mission” film.

Which actors/actresses, dead or alive, would you like to work with?

Easiest question you have given me! I am SO upset I never got to meet, or work with Oliver Reed. If I had been around earlier, or he had been around later… ahhh.. the films we could have made!

What happened to your Dad’s character in David Lynch’s Fire Walk With Me? (Duncan’s Dad is David Bowie)

No idea.

Have you ever found your Dad’s legacy to be a burden?

I do my best to be judged by my own achievements. If what I do is worthwhile, things should go ok. If I suck at my job, I’m sure there will be some schadenfreudian bastards out there happy to slam me twice as hard. Them’s the knocks.

What advice can you give to any new filmmakers reading this?

Create a gang. Get together people around you and build a team. There are two things that make films happen 1) a good script and 2) momentum. Having a group of people of various talents wanting to make your project happen is the fastest and best way to create momentum. The script is up to you.

What are you favourite films and what film are most looking forward to seeing this year?

Again, too many to mention… I always go back to Altman’s MASH and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner at least once a year. There is a little known sci-fi B-movie called “Blood of Heroes,” (also known as “Salute of the Jugger”) starring Rutger Hauer and Joan Chenn that puts a smile on my face. It created a vivid, imaginative future world and is, in my opinion, right up there with the original Roller Ball as the best future sport film ever!

If you were going to be killed by any movie villain or monster who or what would it be? What would your last words be?

Michael Ironside in Cronenberg’s Scanners… and I wouldn’t have a last word, I would just throw him one of those stares that they all use to communicate to the audience they are doing some seriously evil mental shit.

What are you working on next?

Hopefully another sci-fi film! A slightly bigger budget, and a very different feel, as its a city based thriller that takes place in a future Berlin. It’s a loving homage and companion piece to Blade Runner, even if the story has nothing in common.

When and where can we see Moon?

Well! Comes out on June 12th in NY and LA, then rolls out across the US week by week. It comes out in the UK on July 17th! the UK release should be pretty widespread from week one… Im so excited and terrified at the same time, I don’t really know what to do with myself… I just hope British audiences are proud of what a little British indie film has been able to pull off!

Duncan Jones thanks for your time and good luck with the film.

Check out the official Moon site.

You can also follow Duncan Jones on Twitter.


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