1. The swimming scene was realer than we thought

When Juan teaches Little how to swim in the movie, Mahershala Ali (the actor) was actually teaching Alex R. Hibbert (the actor) how to swim. When production started, Hibbert did not know how to swim.

The script originally featured two scenes of Juan attempting to teach Little how to do somethingriding a bike and swimmingbut Jenkins realized the latter was the far more potent of the two. It also fit the developing theme of water and ocean as this place of possibility. They put the camera in the water with the characters, and after realizing that an impending storm was cutting their time short they captured one of the years most beautiful sequences.

2. Now that's true talent

Naomie Harris had to shoot her entire role in three days, in between her promotional tour of Spectre (2015), due to a visa problem (Harris is British). The scenes spanned 15 years in the character's life and were filmed out of sequence.

3. The actors never got to meet the other "them"

In an interview, Barry Jenkins said that the three actors who play Chiron never met during production. He wanted each of them to build their own persona of Chiron during their respective segments, with no influence from the other portrayals. The same technique was used with the actors who play Kevin. Afterward, they all got meet the other "them's".

4. The director and writer drew a lot from their own upbringings

Both director Barry Jenkins and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney's vision was pretty clear and singular. Even though they didn't know each other before the film, both of these men grew up in the same Liberty City neighborhood of Miami with mothers who struggled with drug addiction. Roughly 80% of the film was shot on location here one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the United States. Initially the production was apprehensive about safety issues until the word got out that Jenkins was from the neighborhood - then everything changed for the better. The locals couldn't have been more welcoming and cooperative. Naomie Harris has said that she'd never felt so appreciated and at ease on a film set during the shoot.

5. The movie was based on a play of a similar name

The film is based on the unproduced play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney.

6. There wasn't enough money for more than one trailer

Budgetary constraints on this production made it so that the cast had to share one trailer for costume, hair and makeup and one rest room stall had to be (Continued)

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one restroom stall had to be shared by cast and crew. "Hurry up, I can't hold it any longer!" was probably a common phrase on set.

7. Jenkins and Jerome decided that Chiron had never kissed anybody before.

The director didnt want to avoid an overt moment of sensuality in the film as it felt like a cop-out. The beach scene between Chiron and Kevin (played by Jharrel Jerome) felt like the moment where this [more overt] side of the character had to come to the surface. Jerome, the actor, asked the director before shooting the scene what it was about, and Jenkins described it as a moment about caring for someone else. Jenkins explained that, He got really, really quiet, and I knew he wanted to ask a question. And hes like, Is this the first time this character has ever kissed another man? And I said no. Is this the first time Chiron kissed another man? I didnt say anything. Jenkins says he prefers arriving at an answer with the actors rather than simply giving them one, and Jerome concluded that Chiron had never kissed anybody, period. And from then he knew what his role was in the scene.

8. Barry Jenkins decided to play Jukebox music on the actual jukebox

The second song that plays in the Diner is "Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis. Director Barry Jenkins made the decision to actually play the song on the jukebox in the background while they were filming to make it more authentic.

9. The game the boys play in the field has an interestingly related name

"Throw up tackle" is the name of a game that the boys play in the field. The game involves creating a ball of some sort, throwing it into the air, and then tackling whoever catches it. Interestingly, Jenkins recalls a crew-member saying that where he grew up they called it Smear the Queer. He finds that interesting as he never heard it referred to by that name despite the black community being the one supposedly known for its rampant homophobia.

10. There was an impromptu scene to make you engage with Paula

Director Barry Jenkins' favorite scene in his film was an impromptu sequence of Paula (Naomie Harris) staring straight into the camera overcranked at 48fps. This was a last-minute decision by Jenkins specifically intended to fully engage the audience with Paula's character.

11. Jenkins' own childhood setting inspired Moonlight's

For the setting, Director Barry Jenkins was inspired by his own childhood in Miami, where he was "always surrounded by this very lush green grass and these beautiful golden sunsets." He grew up in "an awesome neighborhood where some very dark things happened." He feels as though his childhood was "a beautiful struggle."

12. Hopefully the forth of many...

With his Oscar nomination, Barry Jenkins has become only the (Continued)

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only the fourth black filmmaker nominated in the Best Director category.

13. Brad Pitt backed the movie financially

An early meeting with Brad Pitt helped director Barry Jenkins get the necessary funds and distribution deal he required.

14. Naomie Harris almost turned down the role of Paula

When first approached, Naomie Harris was very reluctant to play a crack addict since it was so alien to her teetotaling persona. Harris had been insistent from the start on a career plan to only portray women in a positive light. However, when Barry Jenkins confided to her that she'd be portraying a character based on his own crack-addicted mother, she agreed to take on the role. In preparation for the part she spent a month researching the lives of drug addicts by watching several videos of crack addicts on YouTube. Who knew Youtube would become such a good source of inspiration to actors!

15. This was a movie of many firsts

Mahershala Ali is the first Muslim person to win an Academy Award for acting. On top of this, producer Dede Gardner is the first woman to win the Academy Award for 'Best Picture' twice. Her first award was for 12 Years a Slave (2013).

16. Moonlight's budget was the smallest of any 'Best Picture' winner ever

According to cinematographer James Laxton Moonlight (2016) only had a small budget of $1.5 million (Variety). Director Barry Jenkins confirmed at a Q&A at the BFI in London, that this was indeed the budget. This is a lower budget than any other 'Best Picture' winner since Rocky (1976) had, which cost a reported $1.1 million in its day. But if the budgets are adjusted for inflation, then "Moonlight" has to be regarded as the 'Best Picture' winner with the lowest budget ever.

17. Did you notice the license plate?

The adult Chiron drives a car with the license plate number "BLACK305." 'Black' is the (Continued)

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was the nickname Kevin gives to Chiron when they are teenagers, and 305 is the area code for Miami.

18. Something seems not quite right here...

This is the first film since Braveheart (1995) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without winning awards from the Producers Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, or Directors Guild of America. And they almost didn't even get the Academy Award (by accident). Hmmmm...

19. The music was A++

Moonlight (2016) has a very diverse score, with music ranging from orchestra to "chopped and screwed." And as the film goes on, composer Nicholas Britell decided to "chop and screw" the orchestra. Voila! A unique sound was born.

20. Another movie inspired the narrative structure of Moonlight

The inspiration for the narrative structure of the film came from Taiwanese director Hsiao-Hsien Hou's film Three Times (2005).

21. Remember those light flashes in the movie? They're there for a reason.

The light flashes in the transitions between chapters is actually an out of focus digital timecode from a camera slate. During filming the actors were sprayed with oil so their skin would shine on camera and the crew would hold the running slate against the lens to protect it from the sprays. Barry Jenkins saw the out of focus timecode on his view monitor and decided to add it to the film as the light flashes are literally showing time moving forward. How innovative!

22. We're moving forward in the world

This is the first LGBT film, and the first film featuring an all black cast, to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

23. Okay, I guess it's time to acknowledge the Oscar mixups

Yep, it was one of the biggest blunders in Oscar history. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm responsible for tabulating the results, preparing awards envelopes and handing them to presenters apologized profusely to the makers of La La Land (2016) and Moonlight (2016), as well as everyone involved, after an envelope mix-up caused the former to be incorrectly announced as Best Picture: "We sincerely apologize to (Continued)

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"We sincerely apologize to Moonlight (2016), La La Land (2016), Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. [sic] We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation."

24. Jaden Piner and Alex Hibbert had only been acting for two weeks before Moonlight

Jaden Piner, who plays little Kevin, is from the same drama program as Hibbert. Theyd only been acting for two weeks when the casting directors found them.

25. The first chapter of the film wasn't about sexuality

The director of the film stated that he doesnt see the first chapter as being about sexuality, saying Its more about this idea of exploration, of really beginning to feel your body to sort of even feel the idea of sexual identity.

26. DVD commentaries are important to Director Barry Jenkins

When he was in film school Jenkins would listen to DVD commentaries for technical advice and detail, so he shares some of his own in his director's commentary. We shot on the Alexa 235 anamorphic, he says, adding that they also used a modified Angenieux zoom lens.

27. Moonlight was featured at a museum

Moonlight was only the second film to be officially screened at the "National Museum of African American History and Culture" and (Continued)

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and it opened to the public in Washington D.C. in 2016 (the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution).

28. "No one touched my hair."

Jenkins and Mccraney feel that there has been absolutely no compromise in the production of this film. Quoting Solange at a question and answer session at The Ritzy, Brixton, Jenkins said, No one touched my hair. During filming, Jenkins forgot to call cut on a scene as cast and crew were too involved in what was being organically produced. So, everyone just kept going until he realized! This scene never made it to the final cut as it felt too sweet and did not follow their story.

29. Mahershala Ali was afraid to attend the BAFTA awards because of Trump's travel ban

Mahershala Ali did not attend this years BAFTA awards where he was nominated as Best Supporting Actor because his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, was expecting their first child and Mahershala did not want to run the risk of not being allowed to re-enter the US under President Trumps recent travel ban.

30. The penis-comparison sequence was from Jenkins' real life

The penis-comparison sequence happened to Jenkins when he was in middle school although he suspects some viewers might have thought it was one of McCraneys memories, as the writer is gay while Jenkins is not. I think theres something very universal about the way boys grow up, he says.

31. They decided not to explain Juan's absence in the second chapter

The script originally featured a more direct dialogue regarding the absence of Juan in the second story, but Jenkins thought it important for viewers to deal with his sudden absence as a character actually would have. The scene where Chiron (now played by Ashton Sanders) and Teresa (Mone) make the bed featured them saying Juan is gone, but the director thought it felt false. Instead of speaking it, he wanted Juans absence to be felt in their expressions and silence.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

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