© Photo by Lillian Simmons/Special to The Telegram
Filmmaker Tom Moore recently moved back to St. John's where he's working on his latest project called
"They say if you turn around in a supermarket in Los Angeles and say to the guy next to you, 'How's your script going?' he'll say 'I'm having trouble with Act II. Act II is some slow.'"
That's Newfoundlander Thomas Moore's take on the city where everyone seems to be trying to break into show business.
"They're all doing the same thing you're doing," he says. "That's the beauty of being there. Everybody is doing it, even the waiters. Everybody is working there just waiting to get their foot in the door."
A year ago, Moore graduated as a filmmaker from Los Angeles City College film school, the same school that's turned out actors like Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood.
Moore's been out of the province for almost a decade, but now he's back in St. John's and looking for help with his latest project, one that began in LA.
He's currently working on the second draft of the script called "GGG: A Guy, a Girl, a Ghost" - a typical love story, he says.
"But this guy has a secret - we all have our secrets. His secret is that his mother is a demon. He was raised by her to keep the species going, because he's half human. He falls for this girl, who he wants to bring home to meet his parents. But he's afraid to."
So far Moore has a one-minute trailer completed and a 13-minute short.
"Right now I'm trying to meet people in the Newfoundland film industry and I'm getting advice and finding out who's who," he says. "There's some great work being done here now. They know what they're doing."
But, with everyone working on the popular TV show "Republic of Doyle" at the moment, he's having a little difficulty.
"I'm looking for people interested in working on this project - actors, everyone who can be involved right from getting the film from paper to the screen. The project is pretty well explained on my film website (thomasmooreproductions.com) and people can contact me through that," says Moore.
A writer for more than 40 years, by 1981 Moore had published three books of poetry.
While he was teaching Grade 7 English in Clarenville in 1973 he discovered there were no books about kids growing up in Newfoundland. His "Good-bye Momma" successfully filled that void.
The book was distributed throughout Canada and became a national bestseller.
Reviewed in Chatelaine, it was picked as one of the 10 best children's books in Canada. "Good-bye Momma" has been used in classrooms across the country and was translated into Danish and Romanian.
It tells the story of Felix, who after his mother dies, runs away from home and moves in with his grandparents, hoping things will be the way they were.
"On another level it's a good-bye to a way of life in Newfoundland because it was changing a lot. Kids were becoming more exposed to North American life. It's set in earlier times, when I was a boy, when Canada was becoming a big part of our life. A lot of things, like our oral culture, were changing and I thought it wasn't good that we were just gonna flip them all over and become Canadians. But it's a good-bye to childhood as well."
Moore's next success came following a shocking tragedy. He was teaching in his hometown of Avondale at the time.
"One of my students committed suicide. There was very little information about what happened to her. She was in my classroom that June when school ended and when we came back in September they were taking her body out of the harbour."
"Angels Crying" is the true story of the life and death of Trudy Ann Butt, a foster child.
"Her foster father had subsequently been charged with sexual assault against other girls who lived in the same home. So I started to research what had happened. It's the true story of her life and death."
First he had difficulty getting the facts.
"There was a kind of embarrassed secrecy about it all," Moore says.
Then he had problems getting support.
"A lot of well-intentioned people tried to dissuade me from writing it. That's how this thing drives, this sexual abuse thing. In my opinion the secrecy is what keeps it alive."
RCMP officers and social workers refused talk to him. Then with the Hughes Inquiry into Mount Cashel everything changed.
"The government of the day expanded the purview of the inquiry to include foster care and so all the documents become public information, so I could get all the files."
It took Moore three years to gather the information.
Then, although he had all the documented facts to back the story up, he couldn't get the story published. His publishers were afraid of litigation.
"So I published it myself out of my basement."
"Angels Crying" received great reviews, was translated into Chinese, and is used in four universities as case studies in their schools of social work.
Moore's latest book, "Plains of Madness," published in 2001 is a Canadian historical fiction tracing one man's life from 1698, during D'Iberville's Raid, and ends when he is killed on the Plains of Abraham, some 60 years later.
"I was seven years writing this. I was in Quebec three times. I thought it was great. I thought it was going to change the world. And nobody liked it, only me and the judge for the Percy Janes award," Moore says, throwing up his hands with exaggerated surprise. "It won the Percy Janes award that year. You can't give it away. ... You never know what's gonna work," he adds, shaking his head with a chuckle.
His sequel to "Good-bye Momma," "Bridges Burning," lies waiting in a drawer, until he gets around to submitting it to a publisher. His books are no longer available in bookstores but are available at thomasmoorewriter.com.
"My life has taken me around the world, but now that I'm back and settled down, I'll be able to concentrate," he says.
For years Moore worked hard teaching English so he could put a roof over his head and spend his spare time writing novels. He's eagerly looked forward to the day he can retire and write full time. That day came nine years ago.
"And I hated it. I didn't enjoy it one bit. I missed the carpool. I missed the people. I thought I was going to be a writer all my life. I had two successes and a number of failures, but I was happy doing it."
When he told a friend, that retirement life was "lousy," his friend, who was teaching in Qatar suggested Moore join him.
"I had to look it up on the map. I didn't know where it was," he says.
Moore spent the next five years in the Persian Gulf with the College of the North Atlantic teaching English as a foreign language.
While in Qatar he wrote a film script called "Killers," which won first prize in the Arts and Letters competition.
"Killers" is the story of a clash between two men with equally strong patterns of beliefs and moral codes. One's a terrorist; the other's a doctor.
"The doctor goes to work in the Persian Gulf and meets this guy who is there to blow up the airport. There's sort of a moment of human kindness where the terrorist doesn't want to blow up the doctor, so he goes to another section of the airport and blows it up."
The terrorist lives through the blast and the two men meet in the hospital.
"And that's where the story gets rolling."
While he was in L.A., Moore made several student films, one a 15-minute short called "Razor," about a girl who goes to a church to commit suicide and is dissuaded by the janitor, who happens to have been in jail with her father.
He needed a cast, but could only pay in a film credit and free food during the filming.
"In the States right now there's no money. People are just happy to get their name on what you're doing. I put an ad in L.A. Casting looking for a girl (for the part) and I got 155 replies from professional people. They're happy to do it."
Moore says he's happy to be home now, "where there's no shortage of unique shots" and he has endless ideas.
The problem, he says, is the years it takes to write the script, get the people together, raise the money and film it.
"But I'm really happy to be back in Newfoundland, because while I learned a lot, I didn't know anybody. I'm happy that I'm back and perhaps I'll get the chance to show Newfoundland to L.A., rather than the other way around," says Moore.