Moonlight is a 2016 American drama film written and directed by Barry Jenkins, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about it!
1. The film stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali.
2. After the release of his debut feature film Medicine for Melancholy in 2008, Barry Jenkins wrote various screenplays, none of which entered production. In January 2013, producer Adele Romanski urged Jenkins to make a second film.
3. The two brainstormed a few times a month through video-chat, with the goal of producing a low-budget “cinematic and personal” film.
4. Jenkins was introduced to Tarell Alvin McCraney’s piece, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, through the Borscht arts collective in Miami.
5. After discussions with McCraney, Jenkins wrote the first draft of the film in a month-long visit to Brussels, choosing to split the original piece into three chapters while keeping the homosexuality aspects to honor McCraney’s side of the story.
6. Many characteristics of the film reflected both Jenkins and McCraney’s upbringings, since both grew up in Liberty Square and had mothers with drug addictions.
7. Jenkins looked for financing for the film during 2013, finding success after sharing the script with the executives of Plan B Entertainment at the year’s Telluride Film Festival. Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner of Plan B Entertainment became producers of the film and A24 undertook to finance it and handle worldwide distribution, which marked the company’s first production.
8. Different actors portrayed Chiron and Kevin in each chapter of the film. Ashton Sanders was cast in the role of teen Chiron.
9. Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner were cast for the roles of child Chiron and child Kevin, respectively, in an open casting call in Miami.
10. Trevante Rhodes originally auditioned for the role of Kevin, before he was cast as adult Chiron.
11. André Holland had previously acted in McCraney’s plays, and had read the piece In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue a decade before the release of the film.
12. Holland was attracted to the role of adult Kevin when later reading the script of the film, stating “[The script] was the best thing I’ve ever read”.
13. Naomie Harris was initially reluctant to portray Paula, stating that she did not want to play a stereotypical depiction of a black woman.
14. When addressing her concerns, Jenkins emphasized the character’s representation of both his and McCraney’s mothers.
15. Harris later commented that although she had previously vowed not to portray a crack addict, the film’s script and director’s tolerance appealed to her.
16. In preparation for her role, Harris watched interviews of those with addiction to crack cocaine, and met with addicted women.
18. She related her experiences of bullying to the addicts’ attempts of escaping trauma.
18. Adele Romanski proposed for Juan to be played by Mahershala Ali, who had a role in one of her previously produced films, Kicks. Jenkins was hesitant when casting Ali, due to his role as Remy Danton in House of Cards; however, he was convinced after witnessing Ali’s acting range and understanding of his character.
19. Ali considered the role an important opportunity to portray an African-American male mentor,and drew on his experiences of “[growing] up with a Juan”.
20. Janelle Monáe was sent the script and immediately connected to her role as Teresa, commenting that she too had family members with similar struggles relating to drugs and sexual identity.[
21. Filming began on October 14, 2015, in Miami, Florida.
22. After scouting for locations in Miami with Romanski,Jenkins made an effort to film in locations where he previously lived.
23. Liberty Square, a housing project located in the neighborhood of Liberty City, was chosen as one of the primary locations as both McCraney and Jenkins grew up in the area.
24. The film was shot undisturbed since Jenkins had relatives living in the area, though the cast and crew had police escorts.
25. During filming, Jenkins made sure that the three actors for Chiron did not meet each other until after filming to avoid any imitations of one another.
26. Consequently, Rhodes, Sanders, and Hibbert filmed in separate two-week periods.
27. Mahershala Ali frequently flew to Miami on consecutive weekends to film during the production of other projects.
28. Naomie Harris shot all of her scenes in three days without rehearsals, while André Holland filmed the totality of his scenes in five.
29. Jenkins worked with cinematographer and longtime friend James Laxton, who previously shot Medicine for Melancholy.
30. The two chose to avoid the “documentary look” and thus shot the film using widescreen CinemaScope on an Arri Alexa digital camera, which better rendered skin tone.
31. With colorist Alex Bickel, they further achieved this by creating a color grade that increased the contrast and saturation while preserving the detail and color. As a result, the three chapters of the film were designed to imitate different film stocks.
32. The first chapter emulated the Fuji film stock to intensify the cast’s skin tones.
33. The second chapter imitated the Agfa film stock, which added cyan to the images, while the third chapter used a modified Kodak film stock
34. The film was edited in Los Angeles by Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders, former university schoolmates of Jenkins.
35. The score of Moonlight was composed by Nicholas Britell. Britell applied the chopped and screwed technique from hip hop remixes to orchestral music, producing a “fluid, bass-heavy score”.
36. The soundtrack, released on October 21, 2016, consists of eighteen original songs by Britell along with others by Goodie Mob, Boris Gardiner, and Barbara Lewis.
37. Moonlight has received near unanimous praise from critics for its acting, direction, screenplay, cinematography, subject matter and score.
38. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 99%, based on 202 reviews, with an average rating of 9/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Moonlight uses one man’s story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.”
39. On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 99 out of 100, based on 48 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”.
40. It is the second highest-rated film of the 21st century listed on the site, after Boyhood.