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Straight from the source: Duncan Jones talks making of new film

‘Source Code’ to hit theaters April 1

By Michelle Tennis

Moviegoers attending an advance screening March 15 in Tempe, Ariz. of “Source Code” (Summit Entertainment) got a special treat as director Duncan Jones dropped by for a Q&A session, following the movie.

“Source Code,” which hits theaters April 1, is a sci-fi thriller that centers on a soldier sent back in time on a unique mission and has limited time to gather clues and stop a bomber­­­ in his tracks—which, if successful, could potentially save the lives of millions. Written by Ben Ripley, the film features Jake Gyllenhaal, heading up the cast as Captain Colter Stevens, and also stars Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.

The film comes on the heels of the success of Jones’s first feature film, “Moon” (2009). And one audience member/fan had mentioned driving 30 miles and watching the film six times. The audience seemed just as receptive to his sophomore directorial release. Here are a few highlights from the Q&A session. To learn more about the film and to follow Jones on his domestic press tour, visit or

(Q): Coming from that movie [“Moon”] that had a $4 or $5 million budget, which is nothing to make a movie, into something like this which is not a $200 million-movie, but obviously you have a lot more to play with, do you have to remember in the back of your mind that: ‘I don’t need all the money to make the movie, so how can I maximize the movie I do have?’COURCE CODE Q & A with Duncan Jones in Tempe

(Jones): This is definitely a step up from ‘Moon’ but it was ambitious, even for the budget we had. There’s over 800 special effect shots, stunt work fighting, location changes and big set builds. The money gets used up fast. Even with this big of a budget, we were having to pick and choose where we went through the bigger and more ambitious special effect sequences. And that’s part of the job is trying to work out where best to spend the money and how to get the most on screen.

(Q): There’s also a bigger expectation with a bigger budget, so how do you manage that artistically? At a certain point there’s a pecking order to getting these films out. How much of that [marketing, etc.] do you have to take on when you get a bigger project like this?

(Jones): I learned an awful lot from the experience on ‘Moon.’ Sony Classics were the ones who released it and I think now looking back they did a really good job. I have to admit. And I may not have agreed with everything they did, but they were right.  It was very, very precious. I had just made my first film and I was treating it like a baby. So I learned a lot from that and I think on ‘Source Code’ I did what I wanted to do making the film, but when it came to marketing the film, I had a lot of trust in Summit to get it right. And I think they’re doing a really good job.

(Q): Why the name Source Code?

(Jones): I can’t take credit for that. Ben Ripley who wrote the script called it ‘Source Code’ right from the start. From what I understand, his idea was that the source code was the programming language of the technology that allowed this to happen. That’s the reason it was called ‘Source Code’ and it kind of stuck. We did look into changing the name for a little while, but none of us felt like we found something that really kind of encapsulated the idea the way that ‘Source Code’ did.

(Q): Did the script blow your mind, too, or did it just form that way into the movie?SOURCE CODE Q & A in Tempe

(Jones): That’s an interesting question because the script was different in many ways compared to the film we made. Not narratively [the story’s exactly the same], but it was much more serious in tone. It was kind of like an episode of ‘24’ with some science fiction ideas on the side. And because the technology is kind of quirky, kind of weird, and as someone who loves hard science fiction, I was kind of concerned that this is not strictly something where I necessarily see how this works. But, I love the idea of it and I think it definitely works as a story. So, my feeling was let’s lighten the tone of the film and try to inject some humor into it. And Jake [Gyllenhaal] and I kind of thought yeah this is the way to go. Let’s make it feel like a sci-fi ‘Indiana Jones’ movie where he’s Indiana Jones and everyone else is just frustrating him and pissing him off. And that’s the way we approached it.

(Q): I saw Scott Bakula played the voice of the [Colter’s] father. How much did the TV show ‘Quantum Leap’ play into this movie because I saw a lot of similarities?

(Jones): So did I when I was reading the script. And that’s why I wanted Scott Bakula to do that voice. I don’t know if you noticed, but I got him to say ‘oh boy’ as well.

Michelle Tennis, social media manager and feature writer for, can be reached at or follow her on twitter @CinemaCLIPS.  

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