I wanted Sam Rockwell to play the villain in Mute, a film I later made for Netflix. But he wanted to play a blue-collar kind of guy. We both liked the sci-fi films of the 70s and early 80s – Silent Running, Alien, Outland – and the sense of realism and mundanity they brought to space, with a lot of the day-to-day grind comparable to jobs on Earth. So I said: “Let me see if I can write something.”
I developed the story, about a man mining helium-3 on the moon who meets his clone – and Nathan Parker wrote the script. The moon base is called Sarang, the Korean word for love, because I was in a long-distance relationship with a Korean girl at the time. The frustration and sense of isolation that Sam Bell, the main character, feels is definitely something I was channelling. I also thought there was something interesting about having the opportunity to meet yourself from a different point in your life, to see how a mature version of yourself would interact with a rawer, more emotional one. That’s certainly how I’ve changed in the course of getting older.
Flatmate - Gavin - Rothery - Lot - Art
My flatmate Gavin Rothery did a lot of the concept art. He gave the moon base and Gerty, the robot voiced by Kevin Spacey, their look. While we were working on it in London, we ordered so much food from Mexicali on Fulham Road that we ended up using their takeaway boxes for Sam’s space rations. We built the moon base as a full 360-degree set and we would seal the cast and crew in at the start of the day. That set gave us confidence, though it cost close to a third of our $5m (£3.9m) budget. It’s hard enough to make a low-budget movie without fretting...
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