Ever since Dylan Moran was a kid, he wanted to make movies. Growing up, he and his friends and cousins made countless short films on a home video camera.
On Sept. 1, he’ll get his chance – along with audiences – to see his work on the big screen, as his first feature film, “Get Big,” which he wrote, directed and co-stars in, debuts at AMC theaters in Fashion Valley, La Jolla and Mission Valley.
Moran, 24, splits his time between Los Angeles and his family’s home in Rancho Santa Fe. He’s a 2015 graduate of the USC film school, and he’s excited about the prospect of audiences seeing his first movie, which is about two friends and their adventures leading up to a high school classmate’s wedding.
“It’s amazing. I’m really excited to show this on the big screen,” Moran said. In spite of the many short films he’s made over the years, “I haven’t done anything of this magnitude before.”
Moran calls “Get Big” a “coming-of-age comedy,” which is loosely based on his own experiences of coming home from college during the summer and hanging out with his high school friends (Moran attended San Pasqual High School in Escondido).
“I really just wanted to make a movie to show that relationship we had, the good times we had entertaining each other,” said Moran, who names Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Judd Apatow, Richard Linklater and Paul Thomas Anderson as his greatest influences.
Moran said he had been writing action scripts with wild plot lines, akin to “Pulp Fiction,” but the stories just didn’t feel authentic.
“I wanted to write something more true to life, more honest, and this is what I came up with,” he said.
Moran said his character is an “exaggerated version of my personality,” who reconnects with a high school friend, played by actor Tanner Stine. The film takes place over a 24-hour period, as the two friends look to buy marijuana and enjoy each other’s company. “It’s about them zig-zagging around town before the wedding,” he said.
According to the movie’s website, www.getbigmovie.com, the pair “cross paths with oddball cops, curmudgeonly neighbors, drug dealers, psychopaths, escorts and pretty girls.”
Moran said the movie is considered a “micro-budget indie film” because it cost less than $250,000 to make, and it was not affiliated with a studio. As a new filmmaker, Moran relied on favors from family and friends, who allowed the use of homes, restaurants and other places for filming. Family and friends also provided financing for such items as actor salaries and equipment. Moran’s father, Anthony Moran, was an investor, and is listed on the film credits as executive producer.
Because of the timing of the film’s completion, Moran said, he would have had to wait several months to be eligible to enter it into a film festival. Instead, he and his colleagues approached the AMC movie chain, which has a program to support independent films such as his.
AMC liked the movie and agreed to screen it at three locations over Labor Day weekend, Moran said. If the film does well enough, he said, the engagement could go longer and be expanded to more screens outside of San Diego.
“This is an opportunity for film-goers to see something very new and very fresh,” he said, and predicted that the actors in the film will have successful careers. “It’s a chance for people to see these young actors before they make it big.”
One of his challenges in making the film, Moran said, was having to act on-camera for the first time. But he said it helped to have the inspiration of Stine, his co-star, a professional actor.
“The part felt too personal for me not to play it, so I went ahead and did it and I think it worked out for the best,” he said.
Moran urged people to follow the film on its website, Facebook and other social media. He’s already writing a new screenplay, and said his next film will be easier to make if this one does well.
He’s eager to get to work on his next project, he said, because, “I love doing this so much.”