Go south, young man

Most people probably think moving to Hollywood is the only way to make a name for themselves in the film industry. But not filmmaker Trent Moran. After five years off and on in Los Angeles, Moran is coming home and he couldn’t be happier.

Moran, a 1997 graduate of Lee High School, likens his story to Poison’s 1988 song “Fallen
Angel.” He stepped into the city streets of L.A. with his “whole life packed in a suitcase by his feet.” With aspirations to become the next great filmmaker, he found himself “in the fast lane living day to day … caught up in the Hollywood scene; all the parties and the limousines.”

“That’s the next step for anyone,” Moran, 28, said about his decision to move from San Antonio to LA in 2002. “You have to know who you’re writing for.”

Although he started as a graphic-art major at the Art Institute of Dallas, Moran’s true passion was revealed when he took a couple of production classes and got the opportunity to stand behind the camera. Screenwriting soon followed.

While in LA, Moran says he landed a gig reading scripts for a production company, where he realized how cutthroat the business really is.

“The `film industry` is geared to keep people out,” Moran said. “To all you screenwriters out there, don’t send in a script. It’ll become firewood.”

Moran might sound a bit jaded by his experiences in Hollywood, but he assures us he is not. He says it took him a couple of years to realize that unless you’re “directly related to the president of New Line Cinema,” filmmaking is going to be a struggle. Still, he doesn’t regret the time he spent there.

“I went over there blindly, but I wouldn’t know where to begin if I hadn’t,” Moran said. “But if you actually want to get something done, do it here.”

Unwilling to “kiss ass” or become a “hack writer doing some TV show,” Moran moved back to San Antonio this year and co-founded the production company Centerstate Pictures Inc.

“Trent’s imagination is so great, it doesn’t matter where he is just as long as he’s comfortable,” said Allen Bates III, president of Reserve Entertainment Group in Beverly Hills, a company Moran is currently working with. “When you read one of Trent’s scripts, you will get completely immersed in the story.”

Some might find many of Moran’s statements overconfident (“I want to be the biggest studio in the United States and destroy everybody” and “In about three years my studio is going to be about as big as Lionsgate” are bold statements). However, Moran holds that his cockiness is needed to make the kind of significant mark he wants to on a local level. With a handful of scripts completed, a film currently in production, and a couple of confirmed screenplays in the making — including a new film for Chinese actress Bai Ling (The Crow) — Moran desires to lead the city into becoming the next great place to make movies.

“`The film industry` needs a central hub,” Moran said. “I’m not going to say, ‘Screw LA,’ but I’d like to help bring some stuff here. I mean, we have the same cameras in Texas that they do in LA, don’t we? I really think the Gulf Coast is going to be the new Eastern seaboard in the next few years.”

Like the gold miners of yesteryear, the young entrepreneurs and pioneers heading toward the Wild West in the mid-19th century, Moran is, too, looking for his fortune. Call it his personal Manifest Destiny.

“It’s going to get pretty big over here,” Moran said. “San Antonio has the capacity and the talent. I’m just trying to beat everyone to it.”

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