We’re back from our Comic-Con hiatus with the fifth film in our Student Animation Festival. The Impossible Moon comes to us from Meinardas Valkevicius who produced it at the Vilniaus Academy of Arts in Lithuania.
The Impossible Moon asks the audacious question, Was the Apollo 11 moon landing a hoax? Conspiracy theories have floated around for decades, but Valkevicius succeeds in refreshing the controversy by avoiding a pedantic conspiracist approach. His cockeyed glance at the topic is funny and good-natured, and casually raises questions in an entertaining package. The incorporation of documentary footage is an inspired touch, and the dramatic heft is heightened by Valkevicius’s cinematic approach to filmmaking and exquisite sound design.
As much as we like the film though, we probably won’t be showing it to Buzz Aldrin anytime soon.
Meinardas (above) provided us with detailed production notes about how he made The Impossible Moon:
Film creation process took around two years. Everything started back in 2009, when I was studying my third year at the Academy and taking the directing course. I was discussing possible topics for animation films with my lecturer. Unexpectedly the topic changed to the Moon and the possibility of a fictional landing on it in 1969. This idea struck me and I started researching the topic intensively.
I managed to find tons of information about it on the Internet. NASA was celebrating its 40th Moon landing anniversary that year. I’ve looked through as many movies as possible and understood that the topic is really valuable due to continuing interest in it. All the people I’ve been talking to about the landing on the Moon were excited and highly engaged in the discussion. All this motivated me and I was excited realizing that my movie will raise even more questions than answers and people will be forced to question the reality after seeing my movie’s funny interpretation of the various landing details.
The next step was drawing sketches. By 2010, I had gathered loads of information and written around forty versions of the script. I was getting advices from people around me, especially my lecturers. It all led to the start of experiments with the animation itself. I had already had the characters drawn at that time, although they’ve been constantly updated throughout production. Next, I made a storyboard, which was very long. In fact, after creating the animatic I realized that it was even longer than 10 minutes, so I cut some scenes out and changed the script so I could complete the movie by the diploma deadline.
The movie was created using Photoshop, Flash and After Effects. The longest stage was the script, which took over a year to produce. Production (animation, illustration, sound) took an additional 9 months. The sound for the movie was being created at the same time with the help of the sound director Meinardas Brazaitis. I was updating him constantly with the newest animatic version and we were both trying different sounds. Sound effects in the movie were created professionally as well as the main sound track “Selling Dreams,” which was created by the London band called Besureis after I showed them the movie trailer and they became really interested in the idea.
The most exciting production stage for me is the animation itself, especially character animation. If you look closely, you’ll notice that every character has his own unique features–one is calm, another very optimistic and the third one is a little foolish. I also tried to create their visual look according to the real astronauts.
Lastly, I decided to add real documentary fragments, which brought my movie even closer to the reality. The whole movie design is targeted at a wide audience, whether you are young or old, intelligent or just starting to understand the world. Therefore I wanted it to be colorful, with Hollywood-style sound effects and vivacious story.