As a boy growing up in Stephenville, Ace Flynn admits he and his young friends were terrified of Mosey Murrin.
Now, thanks to the latest production from the College of the North Atlantic Stephenville Campus’ film and video production program, Flynn has a chance to walk in the homeless folk hero’s shoes.
Directed by instructor and local filmmaker Peter Buckle and produced by fellow instructor Keith Bonnell, the project started shooting at locations in Stephenville and Corner Brook on Monday.
A self-described newcomer to acting, Flynn looked the part of Murrin Monday, with long hair and an unkempt salt-and-pepper beard.
He said he hopes the film, which covers Murrin’s life from the 1940s until just prior to his death in 1980, will help show Murrin as a much more complicated, tragic figure than the colourful legendary character now fondly remembered by many in the Stephenville area.
“I’m sure there was a time in his life when he was a funny, witty character,” Flynn said Monday prior to shooting at the Railway Society of Newfoundland’s historic train site. “I believe he had early-onset dementia or Alzheimers. He really needed someone taking care of him, but his story has been romanticized and fictionalized.”
The film is an intersession project for students in the program, who comprise the crew for the project.
Featuring a cast of 14 local actors, it will be shot over five days before being edited and eventually screened on June 13 at the Arts and Culture Centre in Stephenville.
Flynn said many who knew Murrin believe he was a harmless vagabond who was ultimately destroyed by being institutionalized prior to his death.
He hopes this project will allow people to remember Murrin on one hand while pondering tough, universal questions about him on the other.
“He was representative of a lot of homeless people with mental illness,” he said. “What do we do with these people and how do we take care of them? It will be up to the people who go see this movie to talk about those issues.”
A Stephenville native, Flynn also had a bit part in last year’s similar college production about legendary Mi’kmaq pioneer Mattie Mitchell.
He admits he sometimes gets nervous on set, but said he’s enjoying his first few forays into the world of acting.
“It seems like I’m always getting cast as dirty old men,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of fun and it beats the hell out of going to work and punching a clock.
“Movies aren’t going to change the world, but they can make living in it a little more pleasant and interesting.”