Deon Taylor has been directing film for over 10 years now, but he’s just getting started.
Deon Taylor has been directing film for over 10 years now, but he’s just getting started. After the thought-provoking social commentary provided by Traffik, starring Paula Patton and Omar Epps. But that was only the beginning, as the pro basketball player-turned-film director two other films slated to premiere late 2018, early 2019, as well as three other films currently in post-production. Recently, The Shadow League spoke with the affable Deon Taylor about Traffik, which dropped in April is gaining increased relevance with the deluge of child trafficking arrests that have been made nationwide this summer.
The Shadow League: Your movies run the spectrum from comedy to drama, and all stops in between. What is about Traffik that still resonates with you?
Deon Taylor: Traffik is one of the closest ones to my heart. Obviously, all of them are close. Traffik was just an incredible thrill ride the entire way. Getting Paula Patton, and getting her to do something completely different from anything that she has ever done.
Then getting cinematographer Dante Spinotti, who had previously worked with Michael Bay, and has won three or four Academy Awards, to come and make a movie with us. I get great commentary about that film all the time. People pinging me all the time, hitting me up on Facebook all the time.
TSL: Traffik appeared to be a thriller on the surface, but was more than that.
DT: What I really loved about the movie is I really went into that film trying to trick people. I wanted to set it up just as an urban thriller, but I wanted you to come out the other side like ‘Yo, what was that?’ The reason I wanted to do that is because Traffik, and trafficking, it’s the biggest thing happening right now to our females, and no one is talking about it all. It’s weird.
TSL: Sex trafficking is one of the most insidious crimes that no one is talking about.
DT: As opposed to people talking about it, you see a blurb every other day about a truck full of people being found but everyone just keeps moving on with their lives. When I first found out, I was like ‘This is crazy how it affects mostly African-American women?’ Man, I went crazy. That’s when I figured out what I was going to do, and I made the movie.
The LA Times wrote an incredible article about it, but then the New York Times wrote something like ‘what is this trash?’ Even with that, the difference between the two as an independent filmmaker, was like this is a film that was pretty dope because you took the medicine and put it in the candy.
For me, it was about making a good movie that has a really good message and having great performances. But then, at the end of the day when the movie’s over, those African-American and Latina women that went with their boyfriends and husbands to see the film can say ‘I didn’t know these stats were this high among us.’ Because, at the end of the day, that’s what the movie’s about.
For me, directorially, obviously, I had a blast. We were able to capture emotions and take the audience on a journey. It was one of the best movies I’ve ever made.
http://www.hollywood.com A couple (Paula Patton and Omar Epps) and friends go for a weekend in the mountains when a bike gang attacks them and they must try to survive and protect their secrets. ‘Traffik’ releases September 27, 2018. For more movie trailers, celebrity interviews and more visit Hollywood.com!
TSL: What’s some advice you have to give individuals facing similar obstacles as yourself?
DT: I often tell people I’m a product of no, which means I got told no so many times that eventually I said ‘Damn, I gotta do it myself.’ Growing up in certain neighborhoods there were just some things you understand. Movies are how you escape. I came from the era of the VHS when you went to Blockbuster to get the movies and everything like that. What it did for me was, as I got older and decided I wanted to be a filmmaker, I was never pigeonholed like ‘Oh, this is a genre beyond us.’ I like horror, I like thrillers, I like comedy if I feel that way I’m going to make that film. I start looking at the African-American filmmaking forefathers of the past; the Spike Lees and the John Singletons, and even the younger ones like F. Gary Gray and them.
I didn’t want to be pigeonholed, I wanted to be Spielberg. Although it took so many layers to do, Spielberg gave you Color Purple, E.T., Jaws, Ready Player One, it just didn’t matter. He is not captive of any genre. I felt like I wanted to be that as an African-American filmmaker.
TSL: What’s in the future for Deon Taylor?
DT: I just finished up a movie called Intruder, it’s more along the lines of a “Get Out” with real roller coaster rides like in the horror world. It was crazy. Dennis Quaid was like Jack Nicholson in Poseidon. It’s a movie filmed in the same world as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Obviously, getting Hilary Swank was great for the movie. But, then, understanding what type of role she’s playing, where she has multiple personalities. She’s really close to Fatal Attraction with the rabbit in the pot.
With Traffik, with Paula Patton and Omar Epps, that would normally be a white couple in that movie. Same thing with Intruder, which stars Michael Ealy and Meagan Goode opposite Dennis Quaid.