The scene of Gerty cutting Sam’s' hair was really important to the story as Sam is preparing himself to return to Earth and re-integrate himself with his family and former life which he is understandably very anxious about. The scene called for Sam to sit restlessly in his favourite chair stressing out to Gerty about Tess being a bit weird whilst Gerty was cutting his hair like the good robotic companion he is. The original plan was to have Gerty’s small arm operating a pair of scissors. We looked into this and the VFX budget suddenly took a big jump, this one scene was moving into a whole CG animated arm sequence with clumps of CG hair being attached to Sam’s head to be cut and all the associated lighting and animation work. We had an allocation of VFX shots for the entire film and it was a simple case of "use one here, loose one somewhere else".
We were trying our hardest to use them where they counted the most and it weighed up quite simply: If we did the haircut scene in CG we'd be losing another ten or twelve shots elsewhere in the film where we could otherwise have a full CG Gerty somewhere in a beauty shot. As our resources were so tight we felt we really needed to see as many of these other shots as possible so that evening myself and Duncan were going over all the possible options whilst digging around on the internet and he went and found this amazing gadget. It's called a Suck'n'Cut and is basically a series of attachments that fit onto the end of any domestic vacuum cleaner and is designed to be moved across the surface of any hairy thing sucking the hair up and chopping it off. It comes with the most amazing manual, which shows all the practical uses in the form of line drawings of the type of haircuts you could be expected to give your elderly relative, child or dog. I'm sure I've got this lying around somewhere, I'll have to have a dig around and try and find it becasue it's a work of art.
Our amazing Prop master Mr Simon Bailey let me paint his vacuum cleaner orange and put some stickers on it and that became Gertys' hair-cutting device. I did this a lot whilst we were shooting; need a Lunar Industries coffee cup? Just grab one from the kitchen, spray it orange in the car park and put a couple of logos on it. One of the things I love about having a realtively sophisticated robot like Gerty using a Suck'n'Cut is the juxtaposition of new and old technology. In theory it's not actually that bad of an invention, which is, I guess, why they're still able to sell the things. It cuts the hair and sucks up the bits at the same time, which must certainly appeal to lazy bastards. But it does give you a rubbish haircut. I really like the idea of old things coming back into circulation again in the future. I always find the best science fiction tends to have one foot in the future and one foot in the present and that's why things like this are such a nice solution to something that was starting to become a bit of a problem for our budget. Plus, we saved the pretty CG Gerty shots for later. We were always worried about Gerty not being in the film enough as every time the CG robot appeared in a shot, KERCHING, that's another ten thousand quid evaporated from the budget.
Sam wanted to grow a real beard for the start of the film because he's a pro, so Duncan and I grew our hair all over the place in solidarity, which is why in pictures of us shooting Dunc looks like Sergeant Pinback from Dark Star and I look like I've got a crash-helmet on made of hair. Anyway, when the flowbee turned up we were dying to give it a crack and so Mr. Jones thought he's start off with the "recent brain operation" look by just doing a patch on the back of his head. It's actually quite hard to get a decent volume of hair through this thing but I do remember crying laughing when we were doing this. It's an emotional rollercoaster doing stuff like this and breaks in the pressure can set you off in all sorts of ways but there were a lot of comedy moments whilst we were making Moon.