'People will ask me if I'm a production assistant or an assistant director,' Glen Moorman says, 'and I always tell them, if you have a $50,000 budget, I'm your first assistant director, and, if you have a $50 million budget, I'm the last production assistant hired.'
GLEN MOORMANASSISTANT DIRECTOR/PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
"People will ask me if I'm a production assistant or an assistant director, and I always tell them, if you have a $50,000 budget, I'm your first assistant director, and, if you have a $50 million budget, I'm the last production assistant hired." That's Glen Moorman, late of LSU, who, like a lot of people these days, moved to Austin eight years ago with zero film experience and ended up catching River City Fever, or as it's called in the trenches, working long hours for low pay on any film production he could manage to attach himself to.
"I actually started off on Secondhand Lions as Robert Duvall's stand-in," Moorman explains. "Being a stand-in is a great training tool, but it's not something you'd want to do as a career because you only work 10 minutes out of every hour while you're sitting near the camera and watching what goes on in the scene. But, as a way to learn about filmmaking, it's great, because I got to watch all the departments for a month and just figure out how films are made from the inside out."
From there, it was only a vertical hop up to the level of production assistant on such films as Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, The Alamo, and the Tommy Lee Jones UT cheerleader comedy Man of the House before Moorman moved on to the position of assistant director on Jason S. Dennis' indie feature McCartney's Genes and on fellow Secondhand Lions alum Paul Alvarado-Dykstra's short "Termination."
"I like to refer to the assistant director's job as being the on-set manager," Moorman says. "They're the people that make the shooting schedules, the daily call sheet schedules to get the crew there on time and working, they watch the clock all day to make sure that everything's getting filmed and getting filmed on time, and they just generally handle the various logistics of the day-to-day shooting. Once the director's on the set, you primarily want him dealing with the actors and the director of photography to figure out what the shot should look like, and the assistant director is responsible for getting all the other departments in line so that when the director calls 'action,' the magic can happen."
Like most freelancing crew members in Austin, Moorman divides his time between working on big-budget incoming Hollywood productions and smaller (okay, way smaller) locally produced indies, but unlike a lot of crew stories we've heard, he's not in any rush to pull up stakes and head out to the left coast: "My goal is to AD big-budget, $100 million-$200 million films but never leave Austin. And the great thing about Austin is that there's enough film work here that you can get really good training and accrue experience and then get on bigger and bigger jobs here or elsewhere. It's the ideal training ground."
"Crew Stories" is a sporadic series that spotlights the Austinites whose work behind the scenes on locally shot productions often goes unrecognized off the set. For past interviews, see austinchronicle.com. If you have an idea for a future "Crew Stories" subject, e-mail email@example.com.