A quarry in Atlanta was filmed as the lunar surface for the oscar-nominated movie “First Man”, which charts the efforts it took to get Apollo 11 to the moon in mid-1969.
Production was based in Atlanta, which is one of the top filming hubs in the US through a combination of its incentive support, experienced crews and studio infrastructure.
Director Damien Chazelle and his team decided against a studio shoot for the moon landing scenes, choosing instead to film on an outdoor set at night.
“I knew we either needed a quarry or cement, and somewhere that was vast enough that could give us the scale of the moon,” says Nathan Crowley, the film’s production designer. “I knew the quarry would be the best option, but to match the moon’s surface we needed a grey quarry, which is rare.
“We were lucky enough that Atlanta happens to have grey quarries. Through the friendliness of the industries that work here, we found our moon at the Vulcan Rock Quarry in Stockbridge, just south of the city; they let us sculpt the landscape to our direction.”
Lighting the set turned out to be one of the bigger challenges, given that in reality the lunar surface is only illuminated by one source – the sun.
Weather also became an issue, especially as the moon scenes were shot during Atlanta’s winter. “The natural challenges we’ve had is that when it suddenly started to snow, we had to break for a little bit and move back to stage for a few days,” says Sandgren.
Atlanta has become a favourite filming location for Marvel’s superhero movies, with many of its shoots based at Pinewood Atlanta Studios.