Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker Fr3deR1cK Taylor in Atlanta
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Fr3deRIcK Taylor was born on the South Side of Chicago. From his early childhood, he has held a deep conviction that diversity and inclusion are essential to everyone succeeding in their personal lives, in business, and humanity overall. Taylor's mission in life is to find the doors of humanity and open them. He looks at the surface of complex issues and inequities and knows the answer to the problem lies deeper. With the lens of a camera, his focus is on the book and not the cover.
He first ventured into film education during his time in Temple University's documentary filmmaking program in Philadelphia. The main reason he got into filmmaking is that he believes that the film industry is the only industry where individuals can freely express themselves and not be edited by others. Throughout his life, he has been judged by the color of his skin.
When I first moved to Atlanta in the 1990s, I was working for white-owned production companies because there weren't any black-owned production companies then,” Taylor says. “I did what the white people wanted me to do. The only time I could do anything was when there were black clients. They would parade me around the black clients. But when CNN came through the door, suddenly it wasn't so important for me to be seen.
It was at that point that I knew I couldn't continue to work in that type of environment. Before working for the company, I already knew how to shoot, and edit, had a graduate degree, was teaching, and had worked on major film projects such as the Academy Award-winning movie Driving Mis Daisy.“
Taylor earned his master's degree in communications at Georgia State University. Then he went on to reach film and television at Clark Atlanta University, as well as media arts at the Atlanta College of Art. During his time teaching, he took the leap into hip-hop music videos and TV content for legends like Russell Simmon and Outkast. He also directed a one-hit wonder caller Da Dip that had 15 minutes of fame on MTV and was nominated for awards for its visuals and creative style.
Taylor has traveled the world and feels comfortable in any environment, he says, and he has a talent for capturing his traveling adventures as a documentary filmmaker and photographer. His projects have led him to informal settlement villages in Nairobi, Kenya, and Lusaka, Zambia, and hospitals for the underprivileged in Lima, Peru. The filmmaker has documented kids in Indis and at-risk people in South Central Los Angeles, too.
In 1994, Taylor co-developed Tomorrow Pictures with executive producer Ellen Barnard, a production company that has produced projects around the globe. The company manages and creates content for television, corporate clients, commercials, and the web, in addition to telling visual stories with purpose and meaning in Tomorrow Pictures' documentaries, social justice videos, non-profit projects, and other cause-related content.
When asked about his motivation behind creating Tomorrow Pictures, Taylor says, “I created my production company to escape the racism I was experiencing in the industry and to be able to show the world my talents, without restraints.” He actively encourages and demands diversity in staffing and hiring at Tomorrow Pictures, and is committed to training and mentoring young people of color, women, and LGBTQ youth.
Body of Work
Taylor's documentary, Counter Histories: Rock Hill, features nine college students in South Carolina who sit in at a lunch counter and change the history of the civil rights movement. Originally aired nationally on PBS, the film is currently available on Amazon Prime Video. The film continues to win best documentary and audience awards in film festivals around the world and has been screened at Cannes.
The documentary After the Fall: HIV Grows Up, by Taylor, was directed and shot on location in Romania, and it features young people who survived the pediatric AIDS epidemic of 1989. The health crisis was recognized by the international community just days after the fall of communism.
Other films include Boxing Chicks: Women Boxers about a group of female social misfits who find their true selves in the world of boxing, as well as Transmission, a film about a transgender tween coming of age in Los Angeles.
Current projects in production include a Michael Jackson documentary The Love You Save: The Michael Jackson Story and Obama, a documentary/web series about former President, Barack Obama.
He was recently featured at the Atlanta Film Festival for his Emmy Award-winning film, Meet the Team Taking J-Setting from Underground Clubs to the Main Stage. The piece focuses on an Atlanta-based LGBTQ male dance troupe called, Dance Champz. The group formed their own quarantine pod, so they could dance together during the pandemic. Their style of dance, J-setting, originated in Jackson, Mississippi during the late 1970s, with the Jackson State University marching band’s women’s dance line, called the Prancing J-Settes.
When asked what he has in store next, he responded “Stay tuned in and logged on for tomorrowpictures.tv. The revolution will be downloaded.” He built the online internet network from scratch as a place to showcase his own story content and other interesting content from future-minded artists and policy influencers from around the world.
His latest Atlanta-based project brings talent from music, theatre, and dance together to create a video for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta as part of the official launch of TogetherATL. TogetherATL is working to change systems like voting and affordable housing, as well as working with residents in three neighborhoods across the metro area to make Dr. King's beloved community come to life. Taylor and the Tomorrow Pictures team produced an original song and music video to showcase the new ethos dedicated to the region, helping it to become a place of equity and shared prosperity for all.
This article originally appeared in the Georgia Hollywood Review.