McCraney's play was shelved for about a decade after he first completed in 2003. After the release of his debut feature film Medicine for Melancholy (2008), Jenkins struggled to get future projects off the ground. In January 2013, producer Adele Romanski urged Jenkins to make a second film. The two brainstormed a few times a month through video-chat, with the goal of producing a low-budget "cinematic and personal" film. Jenkins was introduced to McCraney’s play through the Borscht arts collective in Miami. After discussions with McCraney, Jenkins wrote the first draft for the film during his month-long visit to Brussels. Jenkins took narrative structural inspiration from Three Times (2005) by Taiwanese director Hsiao-Hsien Hou. Although the original play contained three parts that chronicled a day in the life of Little, Chiron and Black simultaneously, Jenkins instead chose to split the film into three distinct parts and to focus on Chiron's story from the perspective of an ally. The result was a screenplay that reflected the similar upbringings of Jenkins and McCraney. Both grew up in Miami, specifically in Liberty Square, and both their mothers struggled with drug addiction. In 2013, Jenkins then began his search for financing, which he successfully obtained after an early meeting with Brad Pitt. Pitt helped Jenkins get the necessary funds and distribution deal he required. With a minuscule budget of $1.5 million, Principal photography commenced in October and concluded in November 2015. The film was shot throughout Miami during its breakneck 25-day shoot. In regards to the look of the three different chapters, Jenkins and his longtime cinematographer James Laxton achieved this by shooting on widescreen CinemaScope on an Arri Alexa digital camera. Then manipulated the colours and looks of the different chapters. This was achieved by increasing the contrast and saturation while preserving the detail and color, as well as imitating three different film stocks. The first chapter emulated the Fuji film stock to intensify the cast's skin tones. The second chapter imitated the Agfa film stock, which added cyan to the images, while the third chapter used a modified Kodak film stock.
The film stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali. Each of the cast gave raw, gritty and unique performances that anchored the film and carried it forward.
An honest examination of finding ones self, in this case their sexuality, has rarely impacted more powerfully than Moonlight. The first African-American film in a long line of coming-of-age LGBT dramas. However, the film's merits comes more from its distinctive visual beauty rather than its sometimes chopped and screwed narrative.
Simon says Moonlight receives: