The Meticulous Mickey Moore
The famous child actor, director, and second unit director Dennis Michael Sheffield was born on October 14, 1914. Originating from Vancouver, British Columbia his family moved to what is now Hollywood so Michael could become a young child actor. Michael’s mother, Norah, believed that he should perform under the stage name of “Mickey Moore” because he should work under his mother’s maiden name (Mickey Moore). At two years of age, Mickey debuted in Poor Little Rich Girl (1917) to start one of the longest continuous careers in cinema of all time (DGA). Over the next decade, he starred in over a dozen of films, including The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln (1924)(Mickey Moore). In the 1950’s, Moore switched roles and started to work behind the camera, and first was an assistant director on dozens of films including The Ten Commandments (1956) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). What he is most prominently known for is his work as a second unit director in numerous films such as the famous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), but specifically the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Legendary director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas hired Moore as a second unit director for the Indiana Jones trilogy, stating that Moore was their first choice. Lucas was quoted praising Moore in Moore’s book My Magic Carpet Ride of Films (2009) “Micky Moore was exceptional. … He was confident behind the camera and knew when to speak up to make things better” (Nelson). The work of a second unit director is specific, and very important for the smoothness and flow of a film. The work of this kind of director is mainly supplemental and action shots. Majority of the time the second unit director would not work with the first unit which pertains the lead actor or antagonist. Nevertheless, the importance of this role is crucial, as the shots this director takes has to be fluid with the first unit, as these shots can be weeks in difference from the first units shots (Get In Media). Upon learning the dire need in the film industry in having a proven and exceptional second unit director, it makes sense why Spielberg and Lucas wanted Moore to be their man. Mickey often used a storyboard, which is a graphic organizer of the scenes he envisioned, to provide the crew with a picture and cost estimate of the scenes he wanted to shoot. The University of Pepperdine Payson Library contains a special compilation of items known as the Boone Special Collections and Archives. Within this collection, one of Mickey Moore’s storyboard for the last film of the original trilogy of Indiana Jones series, The Last Crusade, resides in it. Over two hundred and fifty pages long, Mickey’s storyboard was all handwritten and filled with notes. Mickey was meticulous with his drawings, detailing them with notes regarding how each scene should be shot and the purpose of each one. Pages covered with ink and doggy ears saved pages all prove the diligence of his work. One scene in particular was extremely fascinating and familiar. The scene shot in the desert where Indiana Jones shoves a rock into the Nazi’s tank causing a backfire and stopping the tank completely. Mickey imagined how Indiana would achieve this, by first creating it within his storyboard. Furthermore, he took his idea from the pages and captured it on his camera, then relays it to the big screen. Comparing the storyboard scene to the motion picture scene is almost identical. The camera is in the exact place where Mickey conceptualized it. Additionally, he captured the mountains in the back to a tee, and Indiana’s distance from the tank perfectly. The brainstorming and execution of this scene is one of the many reasons why Mickey Moore was hired by Spielberg in the first place. In an interview with Los Angeles Times, film historian Kevin Brownlow commented about Moore’s work “[Moore] was amazing because the pictures he was second-unit director on, such as ‘Patton’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ have the highest reputation for their action. And who did the action scenes?” (Nelson). The answer is to Brownlow’s question is quite clear: Mickey Moore. Michael Dennis Sheffield passed away on March 4, 2013 in his home in Malibu, California, at 98 years old. The legacy of his films and his contribution to the entire film industry will always remain.
“Visual History Interview.” DGA, Homepage, www.dga.org/Craft/VisualHistory/Interviews/Micky-Moore.aspx.
“Second Unit Director.” Get In Media, getinmedia.com/careers/second-unit-director.
“Micky Moore.” Micky Moore, www.mickymoore.com/.
Nelson, Valerie J. “Micky Moore Dies at 98; Director and Early Hollywood Actor.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2013, articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/10/local/la-me-micky-moore-20130311.