Damien Chazelle on Why They Created the Biggest Film Light Ever Used in ‘First Man’

     October 11, 2018

One of the best films of 2018 is First Man. Directed by Oscar-winning Whiplash and La La Land filmmaker Damien Chazelle, the film is based on a book by James R. Hansen and chronicles the amazing behind-the-scenes story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong between the years of 1961 and 1969. Ryan Gosling fills the role of Armstrong in the film, with Emmy-winning The Crown actress Claire Foy playing Armstrong’s wife Janet. The film also stars Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Patrick FugitCiaran HindsEthan Embry, Lukas Haas, Shea Whigham, Corey Stoll, and Pablo SchreiberFirst Man was written by Oscar-winning Spotlight and The Post co-writer Josh Singer and produced by Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen alongside Chazelle and Gosling.


Image via Universal Pictures

While we’ve all seen a number of movie and TV projects about the early days of NASA and the space race, Chazelle opens the door to a new way of looking at the subject matter with the way he frames the events on screen. Trust me, even though I knew which missions were successful I was on the edge of my seat as I watched the astronauts attempt to do the impossible. I cannot recommend this movie enough and I’m extremely confident it will be up for all the big awards at the upcoming Oscars.

Last week, I got to visit Kennedy Space Center in Florida to conduct interviews for the film. In today’s installment, Damien Chazelle talks about the various challenges of filming the astronauts on the Moon, how they ended up creating the biggest film light that’s ever been used to recreate the Sun, the reason they never cut back to NASA during a key sequence in the film, why he wanted to tell this amazing true story, wanting to immerse the audience in the experience, and getting to meet Hans Zimmer at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Check out what he had to say in the player above and look for more interviews all week.


Image via Universal

Damien Chazelle:

  • How I introduced him to Hans Zimmer at TIFF and if that will always help me get one on one interviews with him.
  • The challenges of filming the Moon sequence and how they created the biggest film light that’s ever been used.
  • Why he never cut back to NASA on the mission to the Moon?
  • On wanting to immerse the audience in the experience.
  • What was it about the story that made him want to make a movie?

Here’s the official synopsis for First Man:

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

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