Wooster alum has directorial debut

Wooster alumnus Duncan Jones, ë95, has recently entered the limelight with the release of his critically acclaimed feature legnth, ìMoon.” Earlier this week Jones was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to reconnect with Wooster students, and participated in a phone interview with The Voice. Below is a transcript of the interview, which offers encouraging insight into how the Wooster experience can impact oneís future in positive and unexpected ways.

How did you first conceive of Moon?

Well, Iíve always been a huge fan of Sam Rockwell, and a few years ago an old film school friend and I wrote a script with Rockwell in mind. We sent the script to Rockwellís agent, and were pleased to hear that he liked what he read. However, Rockwell wanted a different role. After chatting a bit, Rockwell and I found common ground in late 70s, early 80s science fiction movies, and thought about collaborating on something related to these films. In particular, we discussed how the first half of Alien is essentially a low-key film about blue collar work in space. It seemed like a really interesting theme, and one thatís been glossed over a lot in recent science fiction, you know? It seems like now thereís a lot of focus on really grand intergalactic battles, and the world ending, and other big things like that. Sam and I thought it would be interesting to instead make a science fiction movie that focused more on humans.

As a filmmaker, who are some of your biggest influences? Were there any specific cinematic influences you drew upon when making Moon?

Like I mentioned before, I got a lot of inspiration from late 70s, early 80s sci-fi movies. ìOutland,” ìSilent Running,” ìAlien,” ìSolaris” Ö all these films were huge influences. ì2001: A Space Odyssey” was also obviously an influence. You can see in ìMoon” that we really wear our references on our sleeves. Gerty is an obvious tribute to Hal from 2001, for example.

Letís talk a bit about your experiences as a Wooster student. How did you first discover Wooster, and what sparked your decision to attend the† college?

Well, obviously I started in the UK, and over here you have to take A-level examinations in high school, after specializing in three or four subjects. When it came time for me to take my A-Levels, I got very hypo-stressed, and actually fell asleep during my exam! So, the boarding school I was enrolled in asked me to leave.

After this happened I took a year off to sort of figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I then took the SAT, did very well, and applied to many liberal art schools in America. Wooster ended up offering me both an academic and soccer scholarship, so it became my top choice.

I really appreciated how they gave me a second chance, even after getting kicked out of high school. I think itís really important to give young people a second chance.

While a student, what were some of your favorite campus hangouts and activities?

Well, I started the rugby team, and even lived with my teammates in a rugby house just off campus. We all had a great time. It was a really nice group of guys, very laid back. Thatís definitely something I appreciated about Wooster ó the laid back student body. I also used to live in the basement of frat house with some other international students. It was great, because I didnít get any of the intimidation of national frats, you know? It was always very relaxed. I also edited the Year One magazine my senior year, with Professor Grace, which was very fun as well.

Did you have a favorite Lowry dish?

You know, I canít really remember. It may have been sloppy joes. I did used to eat at Momís quite a lot. In fact, there was one item on the menu I ate so much that they nicknamed it the ìDuncan Special.” That was a double cheeseburger with an egg on top! [Laughs] Itís really amazing what we can eat when weíre young!

Moving along, did you ever step foot in the UG? If so, why?

Iím not exactly sure what that is. [Pauses] Oh! I think I did go to that place once, to see a stand up comedian who was visiting!

How would you describe your overall Wooster experience, and how do you think it has impacted your post-graduation life?

Itís been fascinatingly positive, really. In my adolescence I experienced a lot of ups and downs in academics, and Wooster was a definite ìup” period for me. I can remember experiencing so many things I never thought Iíd try ó fencing, sculpture, flag football, editing a magazine. Wooster really encouraged me to embrace a broad range of experiences, and explore many subjects.† ìMoon” sort of reflects that, as itís an almagamation of many interests ó space, energy conservation, philosophy. The whole artificial intelligence thing even goes back to my I.S., which was based on sentient machines.

To conclude, do you have any parting words of wisdom for future Wooster grads?

I guess the best advice I can give is that I know that time is limited, and while at Wooster you may feel like so much of your life hinges on writing the best I.S., or getting the best grades in whatever classes youíre taking. But really, when you get out into the real world, you find that employers donít care about those kinds of things, and are looking for really passionate, interesting people with a broad range of knowledge and experiences. I think I was exposed to that sort of thing at Wooster, and itís helped a lot. I would definitely say donít worry about the future so much when you graduate. Take your time. It took me 10 years after completing film school to make my first movie, and now a lot of very exciting things are happening with my career. I think, when it comes to your education, itís the little things that end up being important in the end, and thatís the main thing I learned from Wooster.

Jones spoke these parting words with the same enthusiastic, strikingly friendly voice he assumed throughout the duration of the interview. Despite his newfound fame, he seemed to be a remarkably approachable, down-to-earth person in conversation, with a great sense of optimism towards his future. Itís clear that he approaches his life with excitement and passion, and his final words are indeed a great source of inspiration to a new generation of Wooster students.