John Moyer found success in movies by talking about his trials.
Moyer was a young Brigham Young University film student in the early '90s, and handling a divorce two years into his marriage.
He found solace in an open-mic night at a Provo comedy club.
"You have to go through a lot of dysfunction in life," said Moyer, in a phone interview in advance of four Ogden shows next weekend. "And when you do that, you go, 'Oh, I think I am going to talk about this.' "
Moyer was asked to return to the comedy club the following weekend. A stand-up career had started -- one that has stuck with him for more than 15 years.
He found early on that it worked to focus on the true aspects of his life, dealing with family, divorce and religion.
"As you go through comedy, you are going to find your own perspective," Moyer said. "So it's an evolutionary process. It just so happens that when you have a lot of drama going through your life, it adds to it."
The singles ward
One of the notable moments in his life was after his divorce, when the 24-year-old was returning to a singles ward in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He struggled with his own thoughts on religion and during this time opted to stay home on Sundays.
Sound familiar? Well, it should for people who have seen the 2002 LDS genre movie "The Singles Ward."
Moyer had been writing down his single-man adventures, but he was surprised when they developed into a movie.
" 'The Singles Ward' evolved as sort of a catharsis for me," said Moyer, who has since remarried. "I had gone through these experiences. I had written it strictly for myself, not thinking it would ever be made into a movie."
Friends from his film classes at BYU were looking to put together an indie project and read Moyer's story. They thought it would be the perfect project for their company, Halestorm Entertainment.
Moyer initially was going to play the lead role, but the producers said he wasn't attractive enough to play himself.
"That's the Mormon movie industry's way of telling me I was a really sweet spirit," Moyer joked.
The movie was well-received and prompted a steady flow of comedy with a religious touch. Moyer has gone on to write four additional movies -- "The R.M.," "The Home Teachers," "Mobsters and Mormons" and "The Singles 2nd Ward."
"With the genre of LDS films, the Halestorm movies, they really found a niche and really found an audience," Moyer said. "It was surprising for me to see how well the film was received."
'Mobster and Mormons'
Moyer started a new project in 2005 about a New Jersey family put in a witness protection program in Utah.
"Ultimately, what you write in the script and your vision of what you write in the script, oftentimes it's not translated into the final project," Moyer said.
By the time producers and directors are finished, he said, the movie can take a whole new direction. He wanted to preserve his vision and the message of "Mobsters and Mormons."
"It's frustrating to see that getting changed by producers or changed by a director," Moyer said. "So I wanted to take something and, for better or worse, it would be me 100 percent."
His next project ventures into the documentary field with "The Real Singles Ward," which comes out next month. The film will tell the stories of being in a LDS singles ward straight from the people who live it.
"All of (my) films have perspectives in them that I relate to personally," Moyer said. "In some cases, they were situations that I went through."
JOHN MOYER'S FILMS
* "The Singles Ward," 2002, writer -- A young man, Jonathan Jordan, finds himself single again after a divorce and goes back to a singles ward in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
* "The R.M.," 2003, writer and actor -- A returned missionary struggles with his long-term relationship, employment and trying to enroll in Brigham Young University. Moyer plays a would-be home teacher.
* "The Home Teachers," 2004, writer and actor -- Two home-teacher partners are polar opposites. One loves Sunday football; the other strictly follows Mormon rules. He ropes his buddy off the couch to complete their monthly teaching duties on the last day of the month -- hijinks ensue on a daylong adventure. Look for Moyer, who is billed as President Mason.
* "Mobsters and Mormons," 2005, director, producer and writer -- The story focuses on a New Jersey family with Mafia ties that must enter a relocation program that sends them to Utah suburbia. The community learns to accept the outsiders, and the family is introduced to a brand-new world. Moyer plays Agent Tuttle.
* "The Singles 2nd Ward," 2007, writer and actor -- The sequel focuses on a couple, Dylan and Christine, who fall in love and plan their big day in an LDS temple. But problems arise from Christine's non-Mormon parents. Moyer appears as Brother Daniels.
-- Source: IMDB.com