Up and Away With Nat Geo’s APOLLO: Mission to the Moon

National Geographic‘s APOLLO: Mission to the Moon, which premiered Sunday, July 7 and will re-air this week as part of the net’s Space Week programming,  is “not just a film, it’s an experience,” says Geoff Daniels, EVP of Global Unscripted Entertainment, National Geographic. Here’s why.

How does “Apollo: Missions to the Moon” fit into the network’s programming strategy?

As National Geographic, we’re uniquely positioned to amplifying the story of Apollo and space exploration across our platforms. Not only is APOLLO: Missions to the Moon available on linear, and after premiere on NatGeo.com, VOD and TV Everywhere, but we’re celebrating off the small screen as well. Our July issue of National Geographic magazine looks at the history and future of space exploration, including original photography and extensive graphics. The issue features an up-to-date lunar map, following in the tradition of the iconic 1969 version that, at the time, was the first of its kind. 

What makes this project unique?

The film was made from hundreds of hours of never-before-seen and restored footage, audio recordings, and thousands of photos. Researchers spent more than 10 years marrying together the tracks from 30 different audio lines in Mission Control, meaning that for the first time, we can hear the conversations of everyone in the room. In total, the filmmakers culled through 800 hours of rare audio, 500 hours of rare footage and 10,000 rare photographs to tell this epic saga. And unlike other films of similar nature, it covers the full breadth of the Apollo space program – its successes and failures over 17 missions, 12 of which were crewed. APOLLO: Missions to the Moon is not just a film; it’s an experience. 

What will surprise viewers?

Seeing the full sweep of the Apollo story–riding the razor’s edge of the full Apollo Program played out in real time–creates something really powerful and emotional. The film puts you right in the moment, on the edge of your seat, revealing the human face of heroism and brings to life, not just the astronauts, but also hidden figures like the wives of these astronauts, their children, and other remarkable people. You feel the audacity, courage, stakes and are uplifted by a boundless sense of home and purpose.

Why is producer/directorTom Jennings a good fit for Nat Geo?

We’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with Tom on one of our highest rated global documentary specials, Diana: In Her Own Words, where we witnessed his distinctive way of storytelling firsthand. He has the unique ability to find archival gems and weave them into deeply immersive experiences so that the viewer feels like they’re right there in that moment. For APOLLO: Missions to the Moo” it feels as if we’re seeing and hearing Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon directly from the people that were there. We also were thrilled to have worked with him previously on the Emmy-award winning Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes, Emmy-nominated The Lost JFK Tape and most recently the three-part series In Their Own Words, all of which were truly riveting specials that captivated viewers

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