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Sunday
Aug212011

Get In The Car

I thought I'd show you something on a bit of a different tack today, so here's my favourite photograph that was taken during the making of Moon. It was shot by Mr. Phellim O'Neill, who also did our behind the scenes EPK for the DVD and press packs that went out when the film was released. Phellim is a very strong and handsome man and can lift very heavy objects right up over his head. You might have read his words of wisdom in the Guardian too. This is the pair of us on the Moon miniature shoot set which looks a bit weird in this context. I love this photo, it always makes me laugh. Look at our thinking faces. 

Anyhow, concept album covers aside, the picture below is the one I actually wanted to show you that Phellim took during the rover-cab green-screen shoot between the end of the Sarang shoot and the start of the miniature shoot. Actually, thinking about it, as this photo was taken, armoured folk-lift trucks were violently smashing the Sarang set to pieces. I wish I'd got some film of that as it was a very wrong-feeling thing to watch. Anyhow, check out the photographic skills of Mr O'Neill going on here capturing a moment during a setup with a sneaky camera-phone pic defying the almost blanket on-set photography ban.

As you can see, the photograph is of myself, Duncan and Sam (wearing his space-baby-bonnet), and was taken towards the end of principal photography. We have the rover-cab set off the gimbal and mounted in the post-crash orientation so it's up and slanted at an angle. The rover set had a bolt-on rear wall, which we attached when we were filming so the set was completely enclosed but every now and again we had to cut a hole in it to point a camera through. In this picture we're blocking out a shot and I'm talking Sam through the escape procedures for the vehicles' occupants. I just like this photo because it shows the three of us in the middle of a pow-wow taking care of business and as we had a photography ban on-set during the whole production there aren't that many pics like this. This is a very honest picture of us actually making the film and I like the way you can see both parts of the set, the nicely dressed interior part but also the rubbish wooden supports round the back. The whole film is painted wood with plastic glued onto it but when you watch the film as an audience member you're not supposed to realize it. This is my job, to put something in front of you and try and make you believe it is something else. Gerty is not a plastic box with me lying on the ground wiggling it left and right. It is a robot and it loves you. But it might kill you.

When I was working out the designs I put all sorts of little details into them and so I tended to spend a lot of time explaining things to people pertaining to how all this imaginary stuff actually worked. Escaping from the Rover would be a bit tricky as a rollover would have blocked the hatch leaving the occupant with no way out. I put this into the design to try and add a little bit to the sense of opression and danger of Sam driving around on the lunar surface, as I didn't want it to be too comfortable. As soon as that rover started rolling, Sam would have been freaking out, as he'd know how bad things might be about to get. Current lunar exploration plans have the astronauts driving around in a pressurised cab in shirtsleeves and this just didn't suit where we were coming from with Moon.

Despite looking like an upended graden shed filled with techno-junk, the rover set was actually the most dangerous set we filmed in. The surfaces were covered in fine grey dust, which made them incredibly slippery. There wasn't much solid to grab hold of either and a fall against a wall would likely send you right through it. Plus, there was quite a lot of knobbly stuff to bang your head on. Quite dangerous pretending to drive a car on the moon. Especially when you're wearing a pretend space suit that kills your hearing, balance, peripheral vision and any tactile senses from your hands and feet. And you can't bend your ankles. Hard work being a space-man.

The rover-cab interior was a particularly interesting set if you're an aviation buff. We had a few parts in there from junked vintage RAF aricraft. The dual joystick-type controls in the centre of the console underneath the monitor were bomb aiming equipment form an old Royal Navy Vampire, there was a panel from the original Trident (Nuclear Missile) launch unit, and the big round unit on the roof smack in the middle is a gyroscope from an RAF Vulcan Bomber. I've always loved these beautiful aircraft and one day I hope to be able to travel to work in one.


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Reader Comments (3)

Love the photo, thanks for sharing. Almost makes me want to get into filmmaking, seeing photos like this. Looks like a wonderful experience.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBritta

Vehicles are really very necessary for several works. Whether for traveling or for defense issues, the vehicles are needed. Vehicle like car used for traveling to different places and particularly it is used for personal needs. Similarly, bus and train used for public transportation. Airlines are there for public transportation. Fighter planes are used for defense.

October 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Atherton

Brilliant! "Despite looking like an upended graden shed filled with techno-junk, the rover set was actually the most dangerous set we filmed in. The surfaces were covered in fine grey dust, which made them incredibly slippery. There wasn't much solid to grab hold of either and a fall against a wall would likely send you right through it. Plus, there was quite a lot of knobbly stuff to bang your head on. Quite dangerous pretending to drive a car on the moon. Especially when you're wearing a pretend space suit that kills your hearing, balance, peripheral vision and any tactile senses from your hands and feet. And you can't bend your ankles. Hard work being a space-man."

I am loving hearing about all the details above actually. Next watching I have a load of notes to look for! It just gets better with repeated viewings and I'm really gaining an appreciation for all the work that goes into a film and the fine differences that make it great art that lasts the ages, or a campy mess.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiora

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