Saturday, 5 December 2009

Tom Moore

Article originally in The Pictures Zine #2

Sleeping Beauty carefully folds a note, 'I AM WAITING TO BE FOUND BY YOU X' and lays down surrounded by tissue paper roses, their petals stained red by her lips. Aeroplanes pass over her gothic palace. The credits appear.

Tom Moore's DV films are steeped in mythologies and haunted by fairytales. Each short, succinct scenario resonates with a very old kind of romance. Old Hollywood melodarma mixes with defiant punk rock sloganeering in a sleepy world inhabited by a reverie of costume characters. Circus people stranded in a town, a tentacled kid in a tree, a man wearing Jackie Curtis' eyes, all moving through the film's psychological space and owning it at the same time, projecting into it. It is of them and belongs to them. Though each film, character, is in itself a world, the films together constitute a larger world - carnivalesque, surreal and filled with icons.

The world of Tom's films is familiar from the mythologies that inform it, be it demonology (The Devil's Eyes), pulp crime (Ding Dongs) or, in one of his most personal films, his father's football career (Equalizer).

Like silent movies made by punks, the films move through deceptively simple narratives, whole images made up of parts invested with histories that tell the story of their characters, seen to in the detail and care put into each expressive makeshift costume or mise en scene. Tom's characters stand glamorous in despair and optimistic in shit. A murder is commited with a sword and not a gun. The tentacle kid faces parliament to protest his lovers' incarceration in bracelets. Each isolated character draws on their history and heroes for strength.

The films are about romance and heroism, or the search for these things though they seem elusive in modern times. They're about the hope to overcome, and the original, very old, notion where films equate to dreams.

THE PICTURES: What first drew you to filmmaking?

TOM: Well, I was writing songs that had stories in them and some of them you couldn't set to music and I always watched lots of films so there was this one story that I decided to make into a film which is The Devil's Eyes and it was, it went OK but there are certain things like, it's harder to say with films but when I started making music I heard Suicide's first album and it was really like wow, I could make music that's like this, I love this music. With films it's harder to pinpoit although there are some, like I saw some of the Warhol films and I saw fragments of Kenneth Anger ones and the Jack Smith films and it seems really, like, friends of mine who'd made films before, I'd acted in some of their films, I don't know, I know someone who's trying to make a film at the moment that I work with who is making, it's like they're making it as if she were a Hollywood studio and is looking for a cinematographer... Just seeing people make films that they were doing all on their own and they knew exactly what they wanted and every step that they took was something that they could do and something that they could do well and they came out with really beautiful films and you don't need to be like the head of this big organisation to do it. It's slightly more complicated than some things but it's really not a difficult thing to do once you know what you want.

TP: How would you describe your aesthetic? What are your influences?

TM: I'm interested in drama quite a lot but also other things. I was talking with a friend of mine abut my camera the other day, and my camera is actually quite a big influence in that it doesn't have a viewfinder, so all of the things have to be looked at on this tiny little screen, so everything that I shoot tends to be in closeup, which when I discovered that most of my films are in closeup and this is why I was a little embarassed, but aside from that, the aesthetic, that is heap, quite cheap but also I mean it's quite cheap in that the first thought is the best thought in a lot of ways and a lot of things that aren't thoughts are important, like just I hesitate to say what's natural, but a little bit what's natural and a little bit of what's not thought out. I really like drawing and so things tend to tend towards that, like movement and that kind of thing, caught up in this art practise and the kind of Warhol films fall into that, but I have a few films that don't really have any actions in, just a set of situations which follow on from watching those. And kind of themes, are a little bit to do with glorification. I like glorification and I like affirmation, affirmation of, even if it's like affirmation of tragedy, it's still something, it's making things real, I think it's important to me, making - I've been thinking about making longer films for a while now and adding things together, like The Devil's Eyes had a plot whereas I don't think any of the other films have a plot as such, there's just a series of things presented, situations that happen.

TP: How important is the DIY aspect to you? Would you consider working another way?

TM: I've thought about instructing more than actors before, like having someone shoot things and having another person do this and that and it's awfully complicated and the films really don't need to be that complicated because they're not, they're very simple...although I love big budget films. Yeah, see it would be great to have just a bunch of people do stuff for you as well. I don't know. I don't think I'm quite egomaniacal enough to deal with too many smart people at once. But I've had people build costumes for me before and I asked them to do it and it was really simple, they did it and it was really good, if I had like... If I had a team of like 30 people building hundreds of costumes that'd be awesome, and then loads of actors who could wear them that'd be really good, and ven the Jack Smith films have quite a large cast it seems, although they're all friends, I mean I have a handful of friends, but it's hard to get them together all at once.

TP: What's your filmmaking process?

TM: I tend to have like an image or an action in mind and then set about the easiest way to do that and then all the kind of moments of technique are just what happens as it progresses, like I don't really think about getting good shots until they're there or, like I hate editing, hate it because I don't know why. It just seems very unnatural. Maybe I should stop editing, maybe I should hire an editor...

TP: Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

TM: Really famous. Like really, really famous! But still don't what I'm doing really.
Photo by Ryan Van Winkle

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