Exclusive: Duncan Jones on MOON, Source Code & Judge Dredd

Duncan Jones - Photo by Rodene Ronquillo - 2010
Duncan Jones – Photo by Rodene Ronquillo – 2010

MOON and Source Code Director Duncan Jones took time out of his busy schedule to do a little e-mail interview for us last night. There is still a large amount of interest in MOON, and anticipation for Duncan’s next film Source Code, with Jake Gyllenhaal. Hopefully we asked the right questions, and got the answers some of you may have been looking for…

MOON

With MOON just past it’s 1st Birthday on general release, tell us a bit about how the year has panned out, compared to what your hopes may have been last year prior to release?

The madness is that we really, truly had NO idea what to expect before the film came out!

All I remember was being in a perpetual state of shitting myself, along with Stu, (Stuart Fenegan, producer,) Gav, (Gavin Rothery, concept artist, house-mate and VFX supervisor,) & Baz, (Barrett Heathcote, VFX editor and other house mate,). It was our first film, and we had no idea what to expect, and as things happened, from Sundance to Tribeca, the US theatrical release, watching the numbers grow, to the UK release and then traveling the globe supporting the film, we never really knew what was supposed to happen next! A bit of a never ending story… and with the German release only just happening, it goes on!

The crazy thing is the business side of things. Moon is out in Germany now, Switzerland, and has maybe a couple of other smaller territories to be released in. It has earned nearly $9.5M so far, worldwide… it cost just under $5M to make… and yet we are STILL trying to pay back our initial investors. That was always one of the biggest priorities for me and it has been the most frustrating part about our apparent success. The lesson of the film business they don’t tell you in film school is this; if you make back everything you spent on making your movie, you’re still barely half-way to going into profit. That certainly educated the hell out of me!

On the HUGE plus side, we made a film that actually means something to a lot of people! We threw something at the wall that maybe stuck, a little bit. That feels good. In twenty years time, there is good chance that people will still be watching Gerty and Sam and marveling at Gav’s beautiful vehicle designs. Thats if they can get the blu-rays to work with their holo-suites.

Congratulations on the SFF award for MOON, seems you just can’t stop winning, have you got used to the attention MOONs success has brought?

Hah! I am a director! We don’t get attention! At least not at my level. …and I would know; I walked through Comicon this last weekend with Ro, (my lovely girl friend,) wearing a not too subtle Moon t-shirt and not even a batted eye-lid! All for the best, probably. If anyone had come up to us, I would have crumbled into my usual pile of nerves! On the plus side, it does go down well at meetings, and it does give me the chance to get meetings with actors and writers I would like to work with.

How do you feel about MOON being regarded as a Cult Classic already?

Bit premature for that! But love the sentiment… and certainly hope that over the years, those that took the film to their respective hearts will pass it on. Let their mates and loved ones know about it… but for God’s sake.. there are people out there who havent heard of Blade Runner! What chance has Moon got!?

Source Code

 

Source Code Comicon 2010 Promo Thingy? @dsatthemovies
Source Code Comicon 2010 Promo Thingy? @dsatthemovies

Back in January, you blogged here at the start of the Source Code process. Can you tell us a bit about how it all panned out after that, the experience of working, the learning experience, the cast, managing a second unit in Chicago etc?

It has been a seismic shift on how I would normally work, but I think I have adjusted ok. It all makes complete sense, when you think about it. With more money, there is more caution, more advice, more suggestion, and over the course of making the film, I had to keep reminding myself that I was asked to direct the film because the people in charge trusted my choices. I think that was the real turning point. At first it was a little over whelming, being second-guessed so much, but I educated myself fast, and fortunately I was supported by the incredibly gracious and talented Jake G, who really got behind me and trusted my instincts. It would have been easy to lose my perspective, with so many others being offered.

Edit started May 17th on SC, how has that whole experience been, moving to LA, working with a legend like Paul Hirsch?

Now there is a perspective I can live with! Paul Hirsch is right up there as a major part of modern US cinema history. If they ever carve a Mount Rushmore to film people, his face should be up there… If you dont know who he is, and you work in film, shame on you! Star Wars. Empire Strikes Back. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ray, Mission Impossible… to name a few. Look him up, but dont look him in the eye! He is too brilliant for the likes of us to gaze upon!

Paul Hirsch on Mount Rushmore by Jack Stevens
Paul Hirsch on Mount Rushmore by Jack Stevens

Where are you at with the edit process now, we’re obviously starting to get people asking when they are going to see a trailer, whether there is a release date yet, etc?

Well, I think it is safe to say that the film will be out early next year. My edit is complete, and we are working hard on visual effects, choosing a composer and trying the film out on a few people just to see how it goes over. Lots to do really, but everything is coming together, and I am in the capable hands of Paul “Mount Rushmore” Hirsch!

To date, we have seen no (official) footage, or even a single still from SC, is this a conscious thing? More & more films these days seem to start releasing promotional material earlier & earlier in the process.

Absolutely. We showed a lot early, on Moon. People knew more than they should have just by watching the trailer. I think for a small film like Moon, it was probably the right move, but this film is a little bigger, and I think we can afford to hold our cards a little closer to our chest. I feel much more comfortable with that, because it means that when we DO release stuff, we will have had a chance to really work on it, think it through and make sure it really gives everyone a good sense of what we are trying to make. Source Code is very different than Moon… its quite a bit different from a lot of films, to be honest, and Im hoping when we are ready to show people, the patience will pay off.

We’re all REALLY looking forward to Source Code, especially after the great feedback from Jake Gyllenhaal while being interviewed on PoP promotional tour, if you could take a step back, like Worzel Gummidge, and pop on an audience head, what would you think of what you have all achieved?

Too close to it, to be honest! I know that performance-wise we got some great stuff from Jake, Michelle, Vera and Jeffrey. I know that the script was always tight, and the film has a hell of a fast pace to it. I know that I did my best to inject some humor where I could. But other than that, we float, helpless in the post-production maelstrom right now!

A unique score can add so much to the experience of watching a film, any news on who may score Source Code (Obv we are hoping for more Mansell magic)

Not yet! We are RIGHT in the middle of that process though, so watch this space. As soon as it gets nailed down, Ill be twittering about it like a monkey with the last banana on the shelf.

Onwards

You worked your socks off on MOON, roaming the globe as a one man PR machine, looking forward to sharing that burden with Source Code cast?

Massively! Moon was a huge labour of love. It drained us, broke our hearts, lifted us up and then drained us again. I would never change it though. I think everyone who worked on it is as proud as they can be about it, but the PR effort was gigantic for me. Twitter and the net I can handle, but I did about 8 months of non stop traveling supporting the film. that was necessary but crazy. I look forward to being able to pick my PR trips a little more carefully on SC… which is why all my press junkets will be in Hawaii! ;)

Obviously your in the eye on the storm with Source Code at the moment. But any news on what might be next, any news on MUTE? Anything you’d REALLY love to do?

I would have loved to do the Judge Dredd movie that is underway. I was in fact sent the script to look at. Its a great script, and I hope I will not rue the decision of passing on it. Thing was, I had such a strong idea of what I wanted to do with a Dredd movie, I could not bring myself to take it on and not do it my way! … and its not like I could do it as a sequel either; my Dredd would have been really weird, and dark and funny, but not your traditional introduction to a hero character. I dont even know if I could have made my version of the film pitch-able. It was maybe too off the wall.

Finally, any words for all the peeps that have come on board with MOON, spread the word, and looking forward to your work in the future?

Well, you know me better than most. I will do what I always do! I’ll keep twittering, I’ll keep trying to let people know what I am up to, and I’ll keep asking everyone to pass on the word about Moon!

Thanks to photographer Rodene Ronquillo for the fantastic pic of Duncan. To Jack Stevens for the Mount Hirschmore pic (at very short notice), Digital Spy Movies for the Comicon ‘Source Code’ find. And to  Special thanks obviously to Duncan Jones :)

21 thoughts on “Exclusive: Duncan Jones on MOON, Source Code & Judge Dredd”

  1. Great interview!!!!
    And choosing Sam Rockwell to play in your debut was absolutely hit the mark!!! You’ve got and very great intuition!!!And of course professional skills!
    Oh, yes!!! MOON is already becoming MOON a Cult Classic!!! And this process can’t be stopped!!!))
    I’m a HUGE fan of your MOON!!!
    Lena, St-Petersburg, Russia
    Can’t wait for your SC!)

  2. MOON rocks. As I watched it I felt a slow sadness and almost unbearable nostalgia for things I’ve never even experienced. Dreamlike – the longing I felt when I watched 2001, Silent Running and Dark Star. A stripped-down luminous poetry pulses through the film. Glacial yet gripping. Isolated. Sad and wonderful with a masterful touch. I’m a little worried when I hear talk of sequels though – I feel that would tarnish this little gem. Let it spin in the darkness!

    1. Thanks for the comment Dave, lovely. There is no sequel planned as such, ‘Mute’ is potentially the next written by Duncan, but based in the same universe, not a follow up, although may include a cameo from Sam Bell…

  3. Lovely interview. And Mr Jones still seems the humble film maker he was on the London releases. Looking forward to Source Code :D

  4. That was a great read, and now I’m really really curious about the Dredd pitch Duncan would have made. I want to see him make that movie anyway and just adapt it to not actually be Judge Dredd. Drudge Jedd, anyone?!

  5. What a great interview!! Very VERY excited for Source Code. Loved the music in Moon, Mansell would be great. I watched Moon for the 5th time tonight ;) it is such an amazing film, i tell everyone to watch it, i want everyone to see it :)

  6. Hey,
    great interview, was lovely to read! Well done :)
    Looking forward to Source Code too….curious when and where the premiere will be this time :)

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