Unlike Moon, which he shepherded from an idea to a finalized film, Jones came aboard Source Code courtesy of the film's star, with a a script ready to shoot. He says,
"When Jake came to see me, we hadn’t made our money back on Moon, we hadn’t won any awards, I was still a young independent filmmaker scratching out a living trying to work out how I was going to get my next film made. When we met up I wanted to discuss a project of my own with him, and he said, “That sounds fascinating, but I’ve got a project here that I’d like you to direct.” Source Code was an opportunity to show what I could do with a big-name star on a bigger budget. Jake was excited visually by Moon and by what Sam [Rockwell] was doing in it. He wanted me to do the same thing on Source Code."
When Inception managed to make a commercial hit out of cerebral sci fi and trippy visuals last summer, Jones took and company took comfort in the financial viability of their film.
"I knew nothing about Inception when we started working on it but I have to admit: When we heard Inception was coming out, there was a lot of nervousness on our part, not because of the subject matter, but because we wondered, 'Is there an audience out there for this kind of film?'
So when Inception became such a big movie, it gave us an awful lot more confidence to push things even that little bit more and make the film even a little more surreal in places than we had originally intended."
With two films now based on science fiction premises, he seems to have found a niche creating simultaneously thoughtful and exciting sci fi with abundant technological aspects. He compares the two films, saying,
"Source Code is a little softer science than Moon, which I would posit is pretty hard science fiction. I believe there will be some kind of mining setup on the moon at some point in the future. The Chinese are already working on plans about how they could do that.
As far as what we’re doing on Source Code, without giving away too much, I would say that we play around with alternative and parallel realities, talking about how that might work and how one might get access to it. We’re taking quite a big leap but you know, a few years ago we wouldn’t have believed teleportation would be possible even if it’s on the molecular level or quantum level, and now we’re talking about the idea that it is possible.
And we wouldn’t have thought that cloaking devices might become a reality. These things are becoming possible, even if it’s not exact way we thought they would."
As for his next project, Duncan Jones is coy, revealing little more than the fairly obvious fact that it will be an original work of science fiction. He also affirms that he'll work with both Sam Rockwell and Jake Gyllenhaal again. Of a possible science fiction resurgence in film, he believes, "There’s absolutely a robust future for technology-themed movies in Hollywood." We'll find out if he's right in the short term when Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan, and Jeffrey Wright, opens nationwide on April 1st.
For the full interview, head over to Wired.
Do you think Jones' optimism on the future of cinematic sci fi is well founded?