Private Project

Life Heist

Directed by debut filmmaker James Moore, this story of desperation, passion, and redemption stars breakout performances from Tom Ferguson, Conor Harrington, Chaston Finaldi, and Ellie Williams. All shot on location in Manchester, Vermont, Life Heist captures a small-town feel that's intimate and personal. But with this it also has immense energy with it's inventive cinematography and stylish flare.

In Manchester, Vermont, security is minimal...real minimal. Folks don't even lock their doors when they go on vacation. When two Manchester high schoolers John (Harrington) and Alex (Finaldi) learn that a loved one has a rare kind of cancer, not covered by insurance, they take advantage of Manchester's minimal security by robbing the local bank. With the help of a janitor from their high school (Ferguson), and a crew of fellow high schoolers, the boys embark on a journey that entails excitement, love, betrayal, and redemption. Feel your heart beating and breaking in a chaotic harmony of life and death. Feel the desperation, perspiration, and redemption while laughing the whole way. This is Life Heist.

  • James Moore
  • Chaston Finaldi
    Key Cast
  • Conor Harrington
    Key Cast
  • Tom Ferguson
    Key Cast
  • Ellie Williams
    Key Cast
  • Koben Pottala
    Key Cast
  • Adrian Woodrow
    Key Cast
  • Julian Woodrow
    Key Cast
  • Debbie Moore
  • Bill Muench
  • Jim Moore
  • Project Type:
    Feature, Student
  • Genres:
    Crime, Comedy
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 11 minutes 26 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 6, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    13,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Laughlin International Film Festival
    Laughlin, Nevada
    United States
    October 14, 2016
    Nevada Premier
    Best Youth Feature Film
  • Indigo Moon Film Festival
    Fayetteville, NC
    United States
    October 8, 2016
    North Carolina Premiere
  • New Filmmakers New York-- Film Forum
    New York, New York
    United States
    December 10, 2016
    New York City Premeier
  • Santa Monica Independent Film Festival
    Santa Monica, CA
    United States
    November 15, 2016
    Honorable Mention
  • Bethel Cinemas Screening
    Bethel, CT
    United States
    January 4, 2017
    Connecticut Premier
Director Biography

James Moore, 18-year-old filmmaker, writer, actor, and all around storyteller has grown up in the rural valleys of Vermont mastering the art of the story. Moore attended Burr and Burton Academy and collected five Gawlik Awards (the school's Academy Awards) including Best Comedy Short, Best Commercial Bit, two Best Film awards, and The Gawlik Award for best Senior Filmmaker.

Captain of his high school debate team, Moore was able to use his diplomacy in order to convince locals to act in the film, a bank owner to allow him to shoot a heist scene in the lobby, and gather over 350 people to attend the first screenings of the film.

Inspired by writer/directors Woody Allen, Ethan Coen, Wes Anderson, and Terrence Malick, in addition to film critic Gene Siskel, Moore will be studying philosophy at Pepperdine University in the fall of 2016.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"In March of 2015, on my 17th birthday, my parents got me a boxset of Quentin Tarantino movies. At this point I had made countless Youtube videos since the age of 10, had been an avid moviegoer since even younger, and had a low budget short film under my belt that won the "Best Picture" award at our school's Academy Awards.

I popped in the disk and, having already seen the movie upwards of ten times, went straight to the bonus features. I went to the behind-the-scenes documentary. (I had watched a lot of them, living in Vermont that's the closest you can get to a film set.) Halfway through the documentary, Tarantino (manning an early 90's digital camera) walks up to Bruce Willis and starts shooting the breeze. At one point, Willis sees the camera in Tarantino's hand, points at it, and says "You know one of these days some 17-year-old kid is going to take one of those things and make a movie with it. Some kid's gonna make a killer, drop dead, poorly lit video movie that's gonna be the hippest f***king thing..and then there'll be a 100 of them after that."

I sat there on my 17th birthday, listening to what I thought were prophetic words from one of my favorite actors. What came from it in the following year and a half was one of the best experiences of my life. I made friends I'll remember forever, I got to do what I love the entire summer, and it didn't look bad on college apps!

The product is Life Heist, a 73-minute feature that is very personal to me...the characters are characters I know. They're exaggerated, yes, but I've seen these kids, seen what their circumstances have been and how that really screws up their lives as a result of it. The film has high production value despite it's minimal budget. It was funded by my parents, who were kind enough to say that if I skipped out on a summer film camp I was planning on attending that I could use the money for this project. The actors are all locals, a few with stage experience. I like to think it's my homage to the Italian Neorealist films that used locals, but I know in reality they were the only people who were wiling to embark on this adventure with me. I owe each of them a lot.

I'd like to thank the community of Manchester, Vermont, for making this movie happen. Manchester is really the town that's portrayed in the movie. It's like Mayberry R.F.D., everyone trusts everyone and hardly any disturbances happen in the course of the year. In order to shoot the bank scene, I called up the branch manager, a friend of my father and hockey coach of my younger brother, and simply asked for permission. This was extraordinary and I now realize that if I were growing up in L.A. or New York City, I would've never got this movie made. The rurality of Manchester allowed us to shot in restaurants, schools, movie theaters, houses because we were on a first-name basis with everyone in the town.

However, it wasn't all fun and laughs. When you're working with a shoestring budget, I'm talking sub-10,000 dollar budget, the director is forced to do a lot of jobs. For the majority of the film I was the cinematographer, art director, sound guy a couple times, an actor, gaffer, and script supervisor. A lot of mornings I was up at 4 AM and wouldn't get back home till 2 AM the next day. About halfway through the summer, when we had about 10 minutes of the film done, I was ready to give up. But thanks to my tremendous cast and crew, who all encouraged me to keep working and keep the energy up and give a reason for the rest of crew to keep showing up every day, we pushed through it and got it done. I gained a lot of not only film experience during this movie but life experience: persistence, working with people, patience... I'm very grateful for it all.

I think the story behind this film provides it with some good marketability and I think that the first 15 minutes of the film gains the audience's trust and interest to hold on and watch the whole thing. We had three local screenings for the cast and crew and their friends and families and we were able to get more than 350 people to show up.

The entire crew has been breaking their backs trying to get this thing ready for festivals. A lot of the production crew are currently in film school aspiring for their big break. Several of the actors are majoring in acting in college also looking for theirs. I'm not calling this thing "Citizen Kane," nowhere near it...but if any of us get the opportunity to be seen, to show the film in front of a room of passionate audience members, it would mean the world to us to know our work was worth it.

Finally, I'd like to thank some of my influences whom without, I would've never been inspired enough to make this movie. First and foremost is Wes Anderson, specifically his films "Rushmore" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel." If you draw comparisons to "Bottle Rocket" and Life Heist, you are not alone..but oddly enough I hadn't seen Bottle Rocket before making this movie. It was the only Anderson picture I hadn't watched. Secondly is Jean-Luc Godard, particularly his films "Breathless" and "Band of Outsiders", they showed me that you could make a low budget movie that resonated with people. Last and not least, Orson Welles with "Citizen Kane", "The Magnificent Ambersons", and "Touch of Evil" really inspired me to go for it, to break your comfort zone. There are many many more who I could thank but in the name of time and space, I choose to omit.

I thank you for taking the time to look at this movie that provided me and my friends so much joy and memories during the summer of 2015. Enjoy it.

-James Moore"