Grant Moore is just settling back into his life in Burbank, Calif., when I call him. His 20-minute short film Pickle recently won a bronze medal at the International Student Film and Video Festival in Beijing. Next week, he’ll take his work back here to Fort Worth for the Lone Star Film Festival. The 26-year-old TCU graduate made his first trip to Asia to promote his film, and even though immigration concerns prevented two of his Chinese crewmembers from going with him, he still remembered the trip with exhilaration. “I got to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall,” he said. “Getting to see short films from all over the world [at the festival] was amazing.”
Moore was born in Kansas City but moved to Dallas at the age of 10 because of his dad’s promotion. He started making films at Highland Park High School with his friends. “We had an English class that allowed us to do our assignments in non-written form, so we persuaded my teacher to let us make a film,” he said. “The other students weren’t happy because we always did well on them.”
Deciding against a career in physics, Moore had to scramble to apply to colleges with film programs, handicapped as he was by the fact that he hadn’t started filmmaking early enough to have a serious portfolio.
It was TCU that he chose over other Texas schools. “They don’t have a huge film program, but its greatest strength is that it’s what you make of it,” he said. “They offer a lot of freedom to explore things on your own terms.”
In addition to serving as president of the Student Filmmakers Association there, he also held a similar position with the school’s improv troupe, Senseless Acts of Comedy. “I enjoyed managing those groups as well as working on the creative side,” he remembered. “It was very good preparation for becoming a director.”
He’s now doing graduate study at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, the film school at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., whose famous alumni include Dear White People creator Justin Simien. Dodge is where Moore made Pickle as his thesis film. It’s about a Colorado man (Nat Topping) who tries to bond with his new girlfriend’s angry 7-year-old son (Zakary Risinger) by taking him on a road trip to scatter the ashes of the family dog, which the man accidentally killed. He had originally written the film as a feature for a TCU screenwriting class, and his friends pushed him to do it as his thesis at Chapman, but he resisted because of the difficulties of shooting in the middle of the desert with such a young actor. The process, though, was less painful than he expected.
“There’s much more paperwork to fill out in California than in Texas, especially when you’re working with a child,” he said, citing regulations that prevent a child that age from spending more than five hours per day on set. “Adult actors understand when things get tough, but when a child actor is tired, you’re done for the day.”
Moore attended LSFF last year for a showing of his previous short, Fair Games, but he’s always excited to return to North Texas. While he hopes to make Pickle as a feature one day, he’s happy to concentrate on showing audiences the short version now