Dane Moreton, television and film producer, presents a documentary film at Tupelo High

March 2—TUPELO — As a working artist, Tupelo native Dane Moreton knows the value of a good story.

“People want to hear amazing stories,” he told a group of high school and middle school students in Tupelo last week. “The kind that makes you prick up your ears a little bit and pay attention, things that might seem unbelievable – stories that are inspiring, unbelievable, those always have a bit of meat to them. And that’s something that as a as a storyteller, you want to be able to sink your teeth into it.”

After working in television and film production for years, the 47-year-old is now telling his own stories. Last week, he stopped by Tupelo High School, his alma mater, for a screening of his recently completed documentary, “Cailloux: One Man’s Journey to Freedom,” and to talk with students about what he learned becoming a filmmaker. .

From acting to directing

Moreton was born in Biloxi and moved to Tupelo with his family when he was in fifth grade.

He crossed the stage to receive his high school diploma in 1993 and briefly attended the University of Mississippi that fall hoping to earn a degree in theater before dropping out of college and moving to Los Angeles. Angeles.

While pursuing an acting career, Moreton found his way into the production side of the business.

His first job in television was working in the post-production department of Nash Entertainment in 1998 for the show “World’s Most Amazing Videos” when reality TV was emerging.

His work there helped him land a job as a tape librarian for several seasons of the reality TV series “Big Brother.”

Thousands of hours of tape were shot between dozens of cameras positioned throughout the house for each episode, and it was Moreton’s job to get the tapes to where they needed to be and to make sure the producers had the footage needed to reenact the show.

Over the years, Moreton has lived and worked in various cities, including Los Angeles, New Orleans and Austin, where he now lives with his fiancée and collaborator Lauren Durr. He is currently working on “The Murder Tapes”, a true detective series for Investigation Discovery.

Moreton has worked in television and film in a variety of production and post production positions including: “Fear Factor”, “The Amazing Race”, “Wife Swap”, “The First 48”, “Gold Rush”, ” Reasonable Doubt” and “Little people, big people”.

Years after leaving college to pursue his dream out west, Moreton returned to Ole Miss and earned an honors degree in business, journalism and acting in 2012 – 15 years after graduating. he had remained at the university in 1993.

“My story hasn’t been a straight line,” Moreton told the students.

As his latest film illustrates, the best stories almost never are.

Telling the untold story of André Cailloux

Moreton’s 35-minute documentary explores a story that, until now, has been untold.

The idea for “Pebbles” was born during Moreton’s four years in New Orleans, when he came across painter and muralist Langston Allston, chopping wood for a mural honoring Andre Pebbles, a former slave who joined the Union Army during the American Civil War and eventually led the first assault by black units as part of the U.S. Army at the Siege of Port Hudson before being killed .

No known photo or letter of Cailloux exists, and no school, street, or gravestone bears his name. But Moreton reconstructed the hero’s story by talking to local New Orleans artists and experts.

“Curiosity grew, and with the growth of curiosity came the growth of the story,” Moreton said.

Telling the story of Cailloux took three years. Moreton began working on the documentary in 2017 and completed the project in 2020.

After years of working behind the scenes to bring other people’s projects to life, Moreton said working on the film — a creation of his own — was artistically satisfying.

“You’re always learning new things, you’re in charge of the project as a whole, and so you can make decisions that you don’t normally make when working in TV,” he said.

find the story

If Moreton hadn’t stopped to talk to Allston while he was chopping wood, Cailloux’s story might never have been told, and it certainly wouldn’t have been told in exactly the same way as he told it.

Moreton said one of the most important parts of being an artist is having an eye for interesting things and people.

He encouraged students interested in pursuing a career in television or film to learn as much as possible about the overall process, not just about a specific area of ​​interest, because the more a person knows about the process, the better they can. tell more story.

He said the best advice he could give anyone to keep working and doing what they want to do.

“You only get better and better by doing and doing,” Moreton said. “Learn as much as you can. If you want to be a writer, write as much as you can. If you want to be a filmmaker, make as many movies as you can.”

blake.alsup@djournal.com