Kevin Spacey read the script and agreed to voice GERTY, but only when the film was finished and if he liked it. Having loved it, he recorded his lines in half a day.
The film was written for Sam Rockwell, who Duncan Jones wanted to cast in a different film, but Jones and Rockwell could never come to an agreement on which part he should play. Because he wanted to work with Rockwell so much, he created this film for him.
Outdoor moon scenes were shot using practical effects (small models). Shooting took place over 8 days according to Cinefex magazine July 2009.
Shot during a writer's strike, which had caused most other productions at Shepperton studios to shut down. Director Duncan Jones says he got a number of top-class effects people on the crew because of the lull.
The film takes place in 2035.
As part of the presentation of the movie at NASA, the director was asked about the sturdy, bunker-like design for the base. The director explained that he thought that astronauts would build the base using material dug out of the moon itself, instead of bringing a habitat with them and placing it on the surface. As it happened, one of the other audience members was working on "mooncrete", which as she explained to the director is a concrete-like material that could be made out of rocky "regolith" on the lunar surface.
According to director Duncan Jones, the film was shown to some NASA scientists who questioned why harvesting of He3 would not take place on the near side of the moon, where He3 is in more abundance. The explanation given was that the choice was made to harvest the far side so as not to affect wildlife.
Shot in 33 days.
Made on a 5 million dollar budget.
The four harvesters are nicknamed Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - corresponding with the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible. During the post-screening Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival, screenwriter Nathan Parker said that he just needed four names; no particular symbolism was intended.
The film makes several references to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). GERTY looks and sounds similar to HAL 9000. They also have a similar dot: HAL's is red and GERTY's is blue. This film choreographs scenes in space to classical music, just as Kubrick did.
The name of the Lunar station, also written on one of the mineral tubes that Sam unloads from the mining machine, has the word Sarang written in English and Korean. Sarang is Korean for "love." Sarang also means "peacock" in Sanskrit language and means "nest" in the Indonesian language.
In the galley, the shelf is marked 'Soylent'.
Since Duncan Jones came from an effects background in commercials, he drew upon his past experiences in creating effects under low budgets when making this film.
Duncan Jones's directorial debut.
Producer Stuart Fenegan performed the stunt when Sam hits his head, because the stuntman was not present on that day and, as Fenegan put it in the DVD commentary, he was the only person who would not have sued the production in case of the stunt going wrong. Fenegan was quite proud of how his shot turned out.
Before making this film, Duncan Jones was more famous for being the son of David Bowie.
In order to prepare for the movie, Sam Rockwell watched Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Dead Ringers (1988).
The five dots arranged in a quincunx (a single dot surrounded by four other dots), a motif that occurs at various points throughout the movie, in the criminal underworld represents prison, the central dot being the person while the other four represent the prison walls.
When Sam is taking care of the small plants, he refers to one of them as "Ridley", while another one is labeled as "Kathryn", a likely reference to Ridley Scott and Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed science-fiction movies.
The "rescue mission" Sam is expecting is named Eliza. ELIZA was a 1960's computer program created by M.I.T. which mimicked chatting with a human operator in the manner of a therapist or psychologist. This is an obscure reference but obviously one pointed toward GERTY in the film. Its banal responses to Sam's statements and questions are very much in the manner which ELIZA used to provide.
Rosie Shaw ("Little Eve") is the daughter of Gary Shaw, the director of photography.
Appeared on Entertainment Weekly's list of "The 50 Best Movies You've Never Seen," in the July 16, 2012 issue.
Many of the "girlie" pictures taped next to Sam Bell's bathroom mirror are by the classic American pinup artist Gil Elvgren (1914-1980).
At around 13 mins, there is a shot of the magazine 'Take Off' on the shelf while the camera shows Sam in bed. This magazine was an episodic, collectors aviation magazine in the UK in the 1990s.
The film opens with a line "Where are we now?". This also happens to be the title of a 2013 song by David Bowie, director Duncan Jones's father.
The engines of the vehicles could not be heard as there is no sound on the moon.
Sam Rockwell would go on to play a character named John Moon in A Single Shot (2013).
Italian censorship visa # 103017 delivered on 12 November 2009.
Gavin Rothery: visual effects supervisor as Rothery, Eliza rescue team captain.
Mick Ward: first assistant director as Ward, Eliza rescue team member.
Gary Shaw: director of photography as Shaw, Eliza rescue team member.
Duncan Jones: The shadow of one of the rescuers coming through the door at the end (as confirmed by DVD commentary). Jones is also one of the radio voices at the end.
Just before Sam leaves for Earth, he is carrying a cylindrical object under his left arm. In the director's commentary, Duncan Jones says that it is a storage canister containing $15 million worth of Helium 3, and that selling it would allow Sam to live well on Earth over his 3-year lifespan. This plot point didn't make the final cut.
Eve's age of 15 and the standard contract of three years, indicating that the Sam that began the film was clone #5 and the new Sam, the one who eventually escapes to Earth is clone #6. There are also 6 chambers in the "secret room" containing the clones of Sam which are lit red, denoting that they are now empty. It is confirmed in the news report audio that is played over the final few seconds of the film when a reporter is heard saying, "Clone 6, the clone of Sam Bell, has been giving evidence..."
The song that plays on Sam's alarm clock is 'The One and Only' by British one hit wonder Chesney Hawkes. Ironic, being that Sam is a clone.
The last word that the announcer says on the video shown before the return to Earth capsule is launched is "Annyeonghikyeseyo," which is Korean for "good-bye," but only if the speaker is leaving, and the listener is remaining put. It could therefore be more accurately construed as "you're not going anywhere." Seeing as Sam is a clone and the so-called "pod" is in reality an incineration chamber, the use of "annyeonghiKYEseyo" (as opposed to "annyeonghiKAseyo") is probably a deliberate in-joke. The director claimed to have been dating a Korean at the time he either wrote or shot this film, so the nuance is plausible.
Within the first 10 minutes of the film, Sam receives a transmission from his wife. During the transmission, Sam's daughter is told what to say by his wife. This seems innocent until a few moments later when a figure wearing a suit appears on the right side of the television screen (though only slightly visible) and remains there until the transmission is complete. This is alluding to the fact that the transmissions were scripted and prerecorded to uphold the lie that the Sam clone is living on the moon base. The figure to the side was either overseeing the recording, or possibly the "real" Sam.
According to Duncan Jones, the original Sam allowed the company to have his genetic material taken, certain memories to be downloaded and all of his transmission with his wife to be used. The company gave him a heap of money so after his 3 years of actually doing the job on the Moon, he went back to Earth, his family was taken care of and the guys on the Moon took care of the actual job.
The text on Sam's t-shirt at the opening of the movie reads "Wake me when it's quitting time." A similar t-shirt can later be seen inside a "dormant" clone's unit in the secret chamber. This can be a reference to Lunar Industries' policy of waking a new clone when the three-year contract ("quitting time") of a clone ends.
The symptoms Sam is showing, and the time of their onset, indicate he's suffering from acute radiation poisoning: starting with headaches, moving on to bleeding, paler skin, dizziness and fevers. This would suggest that exposing the clones to a large dose of radiation is how the company is making them ill.
At around 25 minutes into Duncan Jones's movie Mute (2018), there is a short Spiegel TV breaking news piece with the caption: "The 156 face their maker - Lunar Industries ex-employee questioned by panel in presence of scores of the clones". Sam Rockwell is seen playing Sam Bell and at least 28 clones.
Concept Designer/VFX Supervisor Gavin Rothery did all the EVA stunt work in the film. Due to being the same height and build as Sam Rockwell, the space suits fit both perfectly. He is also the "Rescue" team member entering the cab of the crashed Rover at the end of the film. The weapon used is Rothery's own customized paint-ball gun.
According to Duncan Jones, when Sam talks to Eve, the voice of the man in the background is that of the original Sam and the only time he is heard in the movie.
The message containing the Eliza rescue crew manifest reads: "Lunar Industries rescue crews have your best intentions at heart. Please try not to panic until they arrive. Remain on-station and make sure you obey their instructions no matter how strange they may seem. After all, they're here to help! Thank you for helping us to help you."
The "Rescue Team" are crew members who made the film. They feature Concept Designer/VFX Supervisor Gavin Rothery as the captain on screen left, First Assist Director Mick Ward and Director of Photography Gary Shaw.
The "Harvester NAV" screen into which Sam changes the track of the harvesters at the end of the film has a window with the following 2-line program: 20 GOTO 10; 10 GOTO 20. This is an infinite loop in BASIC.
When Sam is transmitting a message to Earth from the rover, the image of the Earth is identical to a photo taken by the Apollo 17 crew.
Aside from those played by Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey, there are no other major characters in the film.
The alarm that sounds when Sam 2 is boarding the helium-3 transport is the same as an alarm sound used on the iPhone.
This movie is highly influenced by the movie Outland (1981) starring Sean Connery. Interestingly, Outland is felt, by many critics, to be a remake of the classic Gary Cooper western High Noon, only set in outer space. Both Outland (1981) and Moon (2009) contain similar plot elements; namely a mining company using questionable methods driven only by profits at the expense of their employees. The digital countdown clock is nearly identical in size, shape, and readout. Also both are counting down the arrival of assassins sponsored by a shady corporation who intend to use murder to cover up acts of corporate greed.
When the rescue crew is shown on the screen during the transmission from Earth, the last name of one of the crew is Rothery. This is the last name of the film's visual effects supervisor, Gavin Rothery.
At about an 1 hour and 2 minutes into the movie Sam is learning more specifics to the clone situation as he is listening to the technician on the TV. The technician ends with saying, "Annyeonghi gyeseyo". This is "goodbye" in Korean. This would fit as it seems there's a joint moon operation between Korea and USA as indicated by the name of the lunar station, which is Sarang. Sarang in Korean means "love".