A prolific writer and idea generator, Deon Taylor exhibits what some insiders, who bemoan the recent fluff in Hollywood, say the town needs so much more of; passion, drive, and hard work.
With several feature films in the can, more on the table, and additional reality and urban thriller shows in the works – most filmed on his own Northern California sound stage – Taylor is a virtuoso in marrying the best in new ideas and quality through his production company, Hidden Empire Film Group.
“I’ve been a fan of movies and shorts and different things for a long, long time, and I’ve always been a creative person. It’s fun to sit back and see the work. It’s well worth the payoff,” said Taylor, born in Illinois and raised in Gary, Indiana. He currently resides in Sacramento, California while constantly trekking to L.A. for meetings, casting calls, and pitch sessions.
With a background in marketing, sports and promotions, Hollywood is the latest in the long list of games Taylor has conquered.
First, there was the game of basketball. A Nike All-American, Taylor earned a biology degree at San Diego State University on a full basketball scholarship, where he was named that conference’s “Newcomer of the Year.” Taylor went on to play professionally and still takes it to the hole weekly in his coveted spot in the NBA Entertainment League – a group peppered with Hollywood’s elite performers, producers, and dealmakers, such as Jamie Foxx, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg and director McG.
Next off the list was the music game with Taylor Made Muzik, his own independent record label in Northern California. “I’m a creative person, I try a lot of different things. I wanted to do it because I was a big fan of music and I wanted to see the behind-the-scenes of how a record company worked,” said Taylor.
But after making a big statement on the Northern California music scene, Taylor realized that the music industry wasn’t his calling, fearing it wasn’t appealing to his full creativity. “I was selling someone else, and that was the artist,” Taylor said, whose music experience lends to the compelling soundtracks that accompany his projects.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing is like the Hollywood game,” said Taylor. He’s been likened as a mogul with the story chops of Steven Spielberg combined with the proliferation of Jerry Brickheimer.
“I’m just trying to touch everybody. I’m trying to make you go to the theater, and for an hour or two, forget about everything in your life. Forget about the war, forget about your bills, and just get to be in a dark room, and relax.” Taylor, an African-American, makes an effort to make sure his projects are diverse and represent as many identities and demographics as possible.
“It goes from a scene to an idea, and then it goes to paper, and then it goes to film. It’s just amazing to me, and it’s addictive,” Taylor said. “But what makes it really cool is when you have good ideas. I consider myself a storyteller.”
Now that’s an understatement. Stockpiled in Taylor’s office are stacks and stacks of scripts with fresh ideas. Various partners and collaborators include the NBA’s Mitch Richmond, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal, to rock guitarist Zakk Wylde, and the NFL’s Willie McGinnest.
Any single game conquered on Deon Taylor’s list, from professional sports, to sports, to Hollywood films, would fulfill most men’s dreams. When asked about why he did not join the daily grind, Taylor responded, “I think it’s the will to continue to push more and get more out of life. I was raised in a single parent home and I didn’t really have my dad in my life at all and we struggled. I was happy, but at the same time I was more motivated as I got older. ‘You want to get more out of life.’ That’s why I didn’t settle on one thing. My whole motivation right now is to put as many irons in the fire as I can to create.”