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.
Moonlight 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 to create a unique sound.
Both director Barry Jenkins and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney's vision was pretty clear and singular in that both men grew up in the same Liberty City neighborhood of Miami with mothers who had both 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.
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.
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."
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.
When first approached, Naomie Harris was very reluctant to play a crack addict since it was so alien to her teetotaling persona. Naomie 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.
The song "One Step Ahead" by Aretha Franklin plays twice in the film. In the first act, it is playing in the living room after Chiron comes home from the swimming lesson. You can also hear it playing in the Diner on the jukebox in the third act.