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Saturday, January 24, 2009

John Moore: A True Rebelutionary

May 2008, we posted about a coming film production entitled The Widow's Might. Little did we know then that it's going to bag the Audience Choice and Best of Festival Award seven months later in the 2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

As a requirement for a writing subject sometime last October, I had to make my own magazine. In it are some rebelutionaries including John Moore. I had the honor and opportunity to "interview" him and make an article about him. Upon making the article, I knew then that John is one of the truest rebelutionaries one can know. His passion to use his gifts for advancing God's kingdom will inspire not just aspiring filmmakers but anybody who is passionate in honoring and glorifying Him. Below is the article I made with some rough additions and editions to effect timeliness.

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John Moore is like any other teen guy you would meet on a block down the street. Tall and blonde. Just the typical American you’d probably see. But there’s more than meets the eye. At 19, he is an actor, writer, director and producer of a feature film, The Widow’s Might.

The Beginnings

John began his interest in filmmaking back in 2003 through an old HI-8 camera his dad bought for family videos. Together with his friend David Heustis they made silly movies for pure childish fun. They did not have prearranged stories or editing. Just plain fun.

In 2004, however, John attended the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) in Texas which changed his whole perspective in filmmaking. He and David launched into filmmaking without so much focus or priority on the messages and philosophies of their project but now, “I can’t even tell you why we’re so driven to make films,” John says. “Without a purpose, it seems like it would be a dismal craft. But with the real reason for outreach—that’s the most blessed experience I’ve ever had the honor of being a part.

With a new focus on priorities, John bought a semi-pro level camera worth $2400—his pride and joy at a very young age. With partner David on board and siblings as cast he produced What A Blast, Bubble Trouble, and A Lifetime of Childlike Faith. They were not film quality but it was good enough for television and DVD release.

Film Education

Many would probably think that John has been formally educated in filmmaking. Well, the answer is no. John was never educated formally in filmmaking. He read all he can to educate himself; from online articles to occasional buying of books with tips and tricks. But as the cliché goes, nothing beats hands on experience. “The best [education] is getting out there and having fun with a video camera. Feeling it out. Nothing beats hands on experience!”

In 2006, John attended a three-day filmmaking workshop by the SAICFF. He returned in 2007 and January 2009. All in all he had a ‘formal education’ that consists of 9 days to date. “I’ve learned so much from the lectures and I recommend them more than any tool, book, and gear I’ve purchased for filmmaking.”

The faculty of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Academy believe in the principle, “faithful with the pen, faithful with the camera.” Through that they teach aspiring filmmakers to be faithful in the smallest details of crafting a God-honoring story—something John has learned to put into action.

The Widow's Might



The Widow’s Might is a huge project compared to HeuMoore’s previous film ventures. Beginning with twosome friends in 2003, today HeuMoore has professionals on board the team. John admits that it’s daunting to work with professionals but he trusts that the team was hand selected by God.

The inspiration to do The Widow’s Might began in a local thrift store in his county when the owner of the store told him about an old widow actually losing her home due to tax foreclosure. John was angered by such injustice but it gave him an opportunity to make a film that deals with a local political issue—the real deal for an outreach.

John loves musicals and is intrigued by the Westerns, so we are likely to expect some aria and some ‘wild, wild, West’ action come to life in The Widow’s Might while not losing the focus on the outcry of widows.

On Production Costs

Some photos on the set

John like any other teen is unemployed but he shares where HeuMoore gets its funding in the films they make. “Keeping money rolling in to fund the next project is very important, but we try to tackle important issues and make that our focus, rather than what will bring in the cash. Our philosophy is that excellent filmmaking will not go unrewarded today, so if we prioritize ourselves with principles and quality at the forefront, the money will take care of itself.”

Heartstrings was funded by his parents, and a good friend who donated to the project. Heartstrings then became the stepping stone to show investors what kinds of stories HeuMoore wanted to tell. The Widow's Might has a growing team of private investors who believe in the message first, and if the film makes some money back, that's just icing on the cake.

In HeuMoore, they are all about the message than the profit. Their mission is not just to make films to get profits as many in Hollywood do. John states that HeuMoore’s mission is to create family entertainment that will raise the next generation of kids to be educated, mature thinkers. “Not grunge or action films; think more like Old Yeller, Mary Poppins, The Black Stallion. Real people, some adventure tossed in, but just entertaining, loveable movies.”

Being An Actor, Writer, Producer, and Director (and Singer) In One Movie

If many will think that it’s awesome to be an actor, writer, producer, and director at the same time---it’s not! John says of himself as an actor and director, “It's VERY tough! If I could take back a decision, I would definitely not cast myself in the film over again. In fact, I asked another man to direct the film, but he turned it down. Writing is easy for me; I simply throw out concepts and my friends and family develop them into feature films. I just throw away the plot points that don't fit, and presto! Instant screenplay. But acting and directing at the same time is nearly impossible. Directing is all about being able to objectively gauge an actor's performance, and give an unbiased critique on improving the performance. It's hard to be objective about your own work though; thankfully, Jeff Moreland, executive producer, was able to direct my acting.”

The Cream of the Crop

John’s 2007 film entry for the SAICFF, Heartstrings received the Young Filmmaker’s Award and the Audience Choice Award—the first time the award was garnered by a teen. And just two weeks ago, he and his team again won the Audience Choice, this time for The Widow’s Might. Also adding unexpectedly to HeuMoore’s recognitions is the prestigious Best of Festival Award with the cash prize $101,000, beating stalwart independent films such as Fireproof and Expelled. It surely feels great to win awards but for John they are just decorative etched glass and what matters most to him is that the right people recognize his film—the audiences and the judges. Which all of course he got in the 2009 SAICFF.

Receiving the Best of Festival Award and the $101,000 cash prize

The HeuMoore team still in awe of the unexpected award from the SAICFF

Many young filmmakers are daunted by the expensive filmmaking business and so they leave filmmaking to those who have the money but John tells us otherwise,

“Filmmaking, yes [is expensive]. Storytelling, is not. And with the constant shaping of stories and improving storytelling techniques, the money for filmmaking will come. God provides the resources, when we prove ourselves to be faithful servants. Faithful in little, faithful in much. When we become faithful with the printed page, our Lord will entrust us with DVD's. That principle of being faithful in little, to be faithful in much, is something that Americans often don't grasp. It's too easy to run out, borrow the money and start making films, without having earned that level of trust. But if we keep our nose to the grindstone and prove ourselves trustworthy with the pen, the celluloid will come. ◘◘◘

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Related Media:

  • Listen to John Moore and David Heustis' interview with SAICFF judge Kevin Swanson about winning the Grand Prize at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, how HeuMoore was formed, and where HeuMoore is going. Listen and download the interview here.
  • Kyle Prohaska of Praise Pictures interviews John Moore. "We interview John Moore Writer/Director of The Widow's Might, and ask him all sorts of questions about the film, his company, winning at the 2009 SAICFF, what he learned, where HeuMoore is going, and much more!" Read it here.
  • Read about The Widow's Might victory here.
  • Doug Phillips' recap of the SAICFF, History Has Been Made is available here.
  • Praise Pictures review The Widow's Might here.
  • Kaufman Herald: An Award-winning Effort

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