Watch Brad Pitt in a Chase on the Moon in ‘Ad Astra’ | Anatomy of a Scene

Watch Brad Pitt in a Chase on the Moon in ‘Ad Astra’ | Anatomy of a Scene

How do you make it look like you’re shooting a scene on the surface of the moon without going to the moon? How about a little help from … the moon?

The science-fiction tale “Ad Astra” takes place in a near future where the moon has become, to some degree, the Wild West, with treaties being made to create settlements. This scene has lunar pirates trying to thwart the work of astronauts, including one played by Brad Pitt.

In this video, the director James Gray explains his two goals for this sequence. He wanted it to play as a subjective kind of experience, immersing you in “the strangeness of the moon,” he says. But he also wanted to “illustrate what it means when there is a total lack of order.” That plays out here in harrowing ways.

Gray describes the challenges of making the scene feel authentic, including shooting in the desert at another frame rate to make it look as if the moon rovers were affected by the different gravitational pull, then enhancing that footage with visual effects. And he elaborates on how he and his team used photography of the moon and digitally covered it over the desert lands to help simulate the moon’s surface in a convincing way.

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