Dune scenes in Abu Dhabi were filmed with only 15 people

Denis Villeneuve was strict about only having 15 people when shooting on location for Dune

Timothée Chalamet and Jessica ferguson in Dune by Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is an impressive science fiction movie. Hearing how it was made only makes that more apparent since some parts of the blockbuster were filmed using only 15 people.

Cinematographer Greig Fraser discussed working with Villeneuve on the action movie in a roundtable for The Hollywood Reporter. It was their first collaboration, and some of the locations, like Abu Dhabi, weren’t the easiest to film in. Especially not when the crew is small by design. “Abu Dhabi probably ended up being the most challenging; we went there with 15 people, and Denis was absolutely diligent about keeping 15 people, which meant we were limited by what we could do,” Fraser says. “But those limitations ended up being probably the best time that we had on the entire movie – going from this big production to this tiny little film.”

These would’ve been some of the scenes on Arrakis, replicating the harsh desert environment of Dune‘s sand-logged planet. While less than ideal for the filmmakers, it does add a further edge to the desolation to know there was a skeleton crew.

Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Jessica shared the bulk of these moments when they’re presumed dead after House Harkonnen‘s sneak attack. They work their way through the desert, avoid sandworms, to the Fremen, whom they join in the Dune ending.

Since Dune 2 has been greenlit, we’ll have to see if Villeneuve will maintain his ethos of finding ways to be an indie crew within this massive production. His adventure movie drew quite the audience, getting the highest box office any day-and-date release on streaming service HBO Max.

Dune 2 comes out October 20, 2023, and if you’re lucky, you can still catch Dune in theatres before it heads to home media.