First Moon, then Source Code: Duncan Jones is doing well for himself, and no mistake. A week after Source Code's release, Mr. Jones thought he'd fly back to London town to speak with us in Empire towers, answer your questions, and generally be a lovely person. Here's the transcript of the conversation we enjoyed, full of stories about Jake, Michelle, GERTY and Mute. Oh, and looking like Duncan Jones' dad. Of course.
Duncan's Bitch says: Duncan why did you choose to do Source Code and not another of your own stories?
Basically I very much wanted to work with Jake Gyllenhaal. He passed the script on to me, and I have a very, very long-term strategy about the kinds of films I want to make, and this was a good opportunity to prove that I could work at this bigger budget level.
Quentin_Cappucino says: If you had to re-live eight minutes of your life over and over again, which would you choose?
Well, we've been on a press tour around America and Europe for about a month now, and I am so jet lagged that I would just use that eight minutes to get an extra eight minutes of sleep.
badabing says: Duncan, loved the use of 'One And Only' as Christina's ringtone. Brilliant little in-joke. What's the status of Mute being turned into a graphic novel? And is there a release date at all ?
Thank you very much and expect to hear it again in the future. As for Mute, as I said I've been running around doing press for a while now. But as soon as this is over, I already have some meetings set up to start discussing how the graphic novel will come together.
Shadowman13 says: What did you see in Jake that you didn't see in the other actors that auditioned for the part?
Well, I did not get to audition Jake; Jake auditioned me. Jake was already interested in the project and Jake and I wanted to work together on something, and Jake was the one who gave me the Source Code script to read. I thought it was a great idea and I loved the pace of it, and when I told Jake what my take on it would be, fortunately he liked my interpretation.
Oscar Harding says: Did your years studying philosophy at university help in the creative process of making your films?
|Special effects are a bit played out. Going to see a movie just for the visuals is becoming a harder sell.|
Big_Pants says: Hey Duncan! So is that really Scott Bakula as the voice of Colter's dad in Source Code? If so that's a great nod to Quantum Leap. I may have soiled myself in the cinema when I "thought" I heard his voice.
What an appropriate username you have, grandma. Yes, it is really Scott Bakula, and it was something we thought would be great fun to do if it didn't pull you out of the story. So it wasn't until after we had recorded him that we were able to judge whether or not it was going to work. Fortunately, his performance was so heartbreaking that it was an easy decision.
Darkovsky says: Compared to Moon, Source Code looks very action-packed. Was it difficult to adjust to a different genre?
I wouldn't say difficult, I'd say it was incredibly exciting. Part of the appeal to me of doing Source Code was to do something which was so different in so many respects from Moon. And yet, when you look at the two films together, there's definitely some similarities.
Oscar Harding says: What has been your most challenging moment as a filmmaker so far?
I think turning up at the first meeting with producers for Source Code. I'd done one British, indie sci-fi film, and a room full of Hollywood producers were giving me that "impress me" look. It took a while to earn their trust. I'd say that the difference between working on an indie film and a Hollywood film is a bit like the difference between driving a motorboat and captaining an oil tanker.
JG96 says: The feature on your favourite sci-fi films on Empire was really interesting but without limiting it to just that genre what is your favourite film?
Well, Blade Runner really is one of my favourite films. I know it's sci-fi. I have a huge collection of films that I would consider my second-favourite. But Blade Runner is always going to stand out.
My guilty pleasure, if it's sci-fi, is Blood of Heroes, from that period after Blade Runner where Rutger Hauer was doing lots of other films to make him a star. It's pretty much like a post-apocalyptic future sports movie. It was directed by David Peoples, one of his first directing gigs after writing Blade Runner.
Oscar Harding says: How involved were you with Kevin Spacey in his voice recording for Moon? Did he ever come on set?
He never came on set. I was very involved with him for the four hours we needed him for to record GERTY's lines. He's a very impressive chap when it comes to performing. We played around with a few different approaches to what GERTY might sound like, chose one, recorded a few different takes, and then had enough time for him to do Christopher Walken impressions of GERTY. Unfortunately, I'm never going to be able to get those cleared for anyone else to hear.
netinyahoo says: Loved Moon. Are you still planning to do more films in the same universe? Any chance of seeing references back to Moon? Cameo from Rockwell? Or even GERTY type machines?
Yes, yes yes and maybe.
Big_Pants says: There have been an awful lot of remakes lately, is there a film you'd like to remake?
I dunno. I'd have to think about that. I think the best remakes tend to be films that didn't really work the first time around but had a great idea at the heart of them. I'm not going to name names, but there are some sci-fi films that would make great remakes, and Blade Runner better not be one of them!
MOOOOON says: Have you seen the Sam Rockwell dance video collection on YouTube? It's one of the best things ever! Includes some Moon boogieing too...
I have not seen that yet. But I was a big fan of the Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind dance audition. It wouldn't be too far wrong to say that that's one of the things that sold me on Sam Rockwell.
derek says: Which filmmakers currently are inspiring you, and similarly, do you measure yourself up against anyone in style or reception?
Right now I am in awe of the tag team of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin. And they need to keep working together, cause they truly complement each other perfectly. I'm not entirely comfortable trying to measure myself up against any other directors, certainly not on a personal level. But I am always interested in seeing new things in other films and then trying to work out if there are ways that I can outdo them.
Shadowman13 says: What can you say about The Wolverine rumours?
It's been a very busy time working on the press for Source Code. Who knows what'll be coming up next but I know I have a lot of meetings and catching-up to do when I get back to LA.
moonboy says: Duncan could you comment on the thematic similarities between Moon and Source Code?
Well, they both touch on questions of identity. And they also both involve a working person who's trying to fight against an authority that holds complete power over them. The funny thing is that when I was reading the script I didn't see any of that, at all. I literally was only seeing what I thought were the differences between Source Code and Moon. The fact that there was going to be more than one actor to work with, there was going to be some stunts and action, and I would get the chance to work with a bit more money.
Rgirvan44 says: Can you settle a debate for me? Was the use of Bewitched in Moon a joke about how the actor playing Darren was changed mid-way through the series, and no-one noticed?
That is fantastically deep! I can't claim I thought of that, although it's so brilliant I now shall.
Quentin_Cappucino says: Is it true that you played Jake weird music on-set so he'd look really confused?
Hehe, yes, it is. I think Jake got very excited by the idea of being able to wear an earwig on set, after I'd told him how Sam and I worked together to make the Moon stuff work. Jake liked the idea of being able to make himself feel discombobulated while he was sitting across from Michelle. Some of the time it worked great; some of the time he was tapping away to Abba. Couldn't use that bit.
|Duncan on the set of Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal|
Rgirvan44 says: Do you think we are seeing a new golden age of sci-fi cinema with people like yourself, Neill Blomkamp and Gareth Edwards leading the way?
I think what's going on in sci-fi now is very interesting. I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that I think special effects are a bit played out. I think going to see a movie just for the visuals is becoming a harder sell because we've seen so much and there hasn't always been a lot more to go with that. I think now we're getting a group of directors who know how to use special effects to tell stories, and I think that's the way it should be.
neawom says: The score to Moon was fantastic. How much involvement did you have with its creation? Or was Clint Mansell left to weave his magic?
When we were in the edit, we put together a temp track using other people's pre-existing music to give us a flavour of what the film should be. Most of that music was Clint's, so when it came to working with him, he obviously was the right person but wanted to find a way to do something original. He would send new pieces of music to replace the temp that we had, and I would give my feedback and make changes long-distance. But that wasn't going to be enough, so as the edit started to settle down, I was able to get out to LA a number of times to work with him in person.
MoonFood says: Do you have a favourite soundtrack?
When I'm writing, I often use The Insider, which I think is a terrific soundtrack, but there are a lot of them. It also depends on what type of material I'm writing. Mishima is a good one too, by Phillip Glass.
Oscar Harding says: I saw on your website you wanted Terry Gilliam, Neil Gaiman and Ridley Scott to see Moon. Have any of them seen it yet?
All three! Yeah, it was amazing to actually hear from all three as well, what they thought of it. Certainly made me feel pretty special.
Gerard_Lough says: There was talk a couple of years ago about a remake of The Man Who Fell To Earth. Bad idea or an interesting proposition?
I guess it depends whether you think it's a good film or not. If you think it's good, leave it as it is!
Hawke says: Were you ever a big Poppies fan?
I can't claim to be, although I'm a big Clint fan. I was never as into the music scene as my mates, who were. But I'm just very glad that he decided to make film music.
carryon_grant says: Is Michelle Monaghan really lovely in real life? Please tell me Michelle Monaghan is lovely in real life.
She absolutely is. The first time I met her was actually over Skype, to discuss Source Code. And it really was like talking to a mate from school. Very easygoing, very friendly, and truly good fun to work with on set. And she's married, so I'm very sorry. But best of luck.
ThusSpokeZarathustra says: Dr. Rutledge alludes to quantum mechanics as a key aspect to the Source Code in the movie. Taking M-Theory into account, that predicts the existence of seven new dimensions, was your idea relating to the consciousness as a metaphysical entity existing in a separate dimension. Thanks, loved the movie.
Partly. You'll of course be aware that I have very little idea of what that means. But I will continue to nod sagely [nods sagely].
Gerard_Lough says: Before Moon you had directed both commercials and short films. Which do you think was the more valuable filmmaking experience?
Oh, that's a good question. I'd say short films were the best training ground for my first film, for an independent film. Commercials definitely benefited me when I did my first, more Hollywood film, in particular understanding how to deal with the politics of working with producers. It's very much like having clients and agents on set with you when you're shooting a commercial.
Schnorbitz says: One of the many things to love about Moon was the use of models to portray the vehicles on the surface - added a real depth and solidity - as I think you said on the DVD. But the main train explosion in Source Code looked like CGI. Was there a reason for this?
|I wanted to jump in with both feet into this Hollywood malarkey.|
Hawke says: Hey Duncan, I hear you're a big videogame RPG fan, but weren't so keen on Dragon Age 2. Where did BioWare go wrong with that, and would you like to direct the mooted Mass Effect movie?
I loved Mass Effect 2, can't wait for the sequel. I think it could make a good movie but I'm not entirely sure. I think it would very much be up to the script, and finding something very distinctive about that universe that really makes making a movie about it worthwhile. As for Dragon Age, I do think it's rubbish. As much as I really want it to be good, but then I was brought up during the golden age of RPGs when games like Bard's Tale, The Ultima series, Wizardry and others were really in their heyday. Dragon Age just doesn't measure up. But then maybe I'm wearing rose-tinted spectacles.
kathen says: Not sure if it hasn't already came up but, still, what's your favourite sandwich?
That's a tricky one. I think a good baguette filled with salami, gruyère cheese, bit of ham, some red onion, touch of mustard... I'm getting hungry now.
netinyahoo says: What are you thoughts on filmmaking moving from film to digital shooting formats such as Red?
I'm really a believer that the format that you capture an image in is far less important than the grade and the way that the film is projected at the cinema. Frankly, with the right subject matter I think you could probably shoot a film on an iPhone if you treated it right in post. What I am a huge fan of is digital projection as you get a clarity with that you just don't get with film projection.
sergithegreek says: Hi Duncan! What helpful and inspiring guidance can you offer a young filmmaker / writer who is almost near the end of his TV & Film degree?
Gather a group of like-minded people around you, find people who want to be producers, cinematographers, actors and composers, because you're always going to have far more ability to get things made if you have the momentum of a group of people working together. It's hard work trying to do it on your own, and you'll be taken more seriously if there's a group of you.
StWilson says: Given the differences in resource and budget, was Moon or Source Code the easier project to finish, and why?
I have a particular way of working that very much incorporates the budget into it. It's part of my approach to bear in mind the budget as part of the puzzle I have to solve. Producers may like that fact, but really I do it on a creative level as it helps me come up with ideas. So I wouldn't say that one was any easier than the other. Both of them just had a different set of challenges.
MOOOOON says: There was some pretty noticeable product placement in Source Code -- was this something you tried to rally against?
Not really. I wanted to jump in with both feet into this Hollywood malarkey. And if we were going to do it, I was going to have some fun with it. So Dunkin' Donuts was my cameo.
deniz says: Favourite comic book movie?
You can't go wrong with Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight. Sam Raimi did a great job with the first Spider-Man, and the first Iron Man was great too. Still, I know it's not a comic, but I can't wait to see Sam Raimi's World of Warcraft movie.
Quentin_Cappucino says: I'm a big fan of Matt Berry - he has the greatest voice in England - and loved seeing him do serious work in Moon. How did that come about and was he fun to have around?
He was only there for half a day, but Matt and I knew each other from before the film. We used to be acquaintances at a local drinking establishment. I'm sure the decision to work with him may have come out of one of those nights at said drinking establishment, but I'm very glad it happened. He is a top chap.
Man On the Moon says: Hi Duncan. You were name amongst others was being linked with the new Superman project for a while. To add to your favourite comic book movie question, would you like to do one yourself some day?
Being a Brit, my preference would be to do a 2000AD character, which is why I got very excited about Judge Dredd. But unfortunately I had such a strong idea of what I wanted to do with that that it wasn't going to mesh with the very strong script that they had. Maybe I'll get another shot one day, or maybe I'll get the chance to try one of the other characters from Britain's sci-fi bible.
|Duncan Jones discussing the finer points of what makes a great sandwich with Empire's Phil de Semlyen|
James says: Sorry to ask but I loved Source Code so much, would you ever consider a sequel?
Never say never, but I do really have a lot of films that I want to get made that I've been working on for a while. Very glad that you liked the film though.
Oscar Harding says: How serious was the story that you and Simon Pegg would like to do a black comedy in the vein of Peeping Tom?
Just lads having a chat on twitter. But I would very much like to work with Simon. We'll find something one day.
Kapowie says: is there a movie you saw recently where you thought 'Damn, I wish I'd done that'?
Four Lions. But not that I'd done it, but that I had the balls to do something like it.
Deviation says: Would you do a Rouge Trooper film?
Absolutely: Rouge Trooper! Featuring his sidekick, Mascara Boy.
Duncan's Bitch says: Are you a 'geek' or a 'nerd'? This is *very* important.
I believe that there is a Venn diagram online that helps a person identify themselves. I'll have to look for it at some point. But I know I fit somewhere on there.
MOOOOON says: What's the most brilliant thing about Twitter? Also, what's the most annoying thing about Twitter?
The brilliant thing about it is that you always have people to talk rubbish with and the most annoying thing is there's never any possibility of an end to a conversation.
fanana says: Hi Duncan. Looking forward to seeing Source Code. Moon was bloody brilliant. Love your tweets. I'm working on my third screenplay although no sale under my hat yet. What advice can you give on writing a killer screenplay?
Hopefully you'll have already a group of people that you trust to read your work. If not, that's what you need.
Oscar Harding says: Have you seen Monsters? Have you met Gareth Edwards?
Yes and yes. Absolutely lovely guy, very talented, very young, and of course I hate him. Actually I'm very excited to see what he does with Godzilla cause I really do have faith in him and also that the studio are going to let him get in there and do his thing. I think we live in interesting times right now where a director who's only done one feature, like Gareth, will be able to put his stamp on the movie because it's sci-fi.
Rhu says: Has anyone gone up to your dad and asked if he's Duncan Jones' dad yet?
Not yet. I think I need a few more films under my belt. I have actually had someone come up to me and ask me if I'm Duncan Jones' dad, but I think that's because of the jetlag.
|Duncan Jones and Sam Rockwell on the set of Moon|
sam says: The inspiration of 2001 is quite apparent on Moon. Is Groundhog Day is inspiration behind Source Code?
I can't claim responsibility for Source Code because I didn't write it, but I think it's fairly obvious that Ben Ripley's script really understands the science fiction that it draws from, and I think it does a bloody good job of it. Moon certainly was inspired by 2001 but also many other science fiction films.
stark says: What is your view on 3D in film now, a gimmick or something long lasting?
I think 3D can be used very effectively, but you have to plan SO much, so far ahead of time. There are some serious limitations on how you move the camera, and how you edit the film, when you're working in 3D. And the question has to be whether those limitations fit the story you're trying to tell, or whether you're making a rod for your own back by doing it. I'm not sure how many projects can afford the pre-production that would be needed to know ahead of time that 3D is absolutely the right way to go.
Again, I give props to Christopher Nolan for choosing to use aspect ratio and IMAX resolutions as an alternative to 3D to give his action scenes more impact.
thereallovefilm says: Hi Duncan! I usually can't stand sci-fi (sorry) but I absolutely loved Moon, so I might be a convert yet. What sci-fi movies raise the sort of questions about personhood that 'Moon' does? Also, I'm curious - is it difficult to balance being a director (the boss) and developing/maintaining friendly relationships with actors on the set?
Start with THX 1138, I guess. Blade Runner, of course. I'm a bit jetlagged so I'm sure there's many others that I'm not thinking of. As far as working with actors, I think it really depends on what school of directing you come from. I very much believe that I'm hiring the best people for the job, so I want to create an environment where they can do what they do. That lends itself to being friends on set. For others, it's more about telling the actors what to do, and I think if you direct that way, you may be losing what's best about those actors.
MrEnumber6 says: I've heard one of your inspirations on Source Code was the great Brian de Palma. Have you ever met him and talked movies? Of course you had Paul Hirsch. He must have had some tales.
Paul Hirsch definitely had some tales, none of which I am at liberty to discuss. But frankly working with Paul was like going back to film school all over again, an absolutely treasured experience.
ludivico says: Next for Duncan Jones?
Wasn't that already made, Next? I told you, I'm not doing remakes.
andygnelson says: Do you think Sam Rockwell should have received an Oscar nomination for his performance in Moon?
Absolutely, 100%. And it's funny how it didn't happen, seeing as at every meeting I go to with Hollywood execs, they all say that he should have gotten it.
Thank you so much for spending time in front of your computers on this sunny day. You're all bloomin' fools! Get outside and enjoy the sun! And then go inside and watch Source Code. Thank you.