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An interview with Frederick Taylor, director of "Where is America the Beautiful"

One of the most poignant moments of the film was the culmination with the original song, "Where Is America The Beautiful?" by Billy Livsey, featuring the soul-stirring vocals of Victoria Fahimmanesh. The song served as a unifying anthem, echoing the questions and reflections that resonated throughout the documentary.

Filmtage : What inspired you to become an independent filmmaker, and how has your journey been so far in this challenging industry?

Frederick Taylor : I was inspired to be a filmmaker through a process. A process that started as a child. I loved writing, art, music, song, dance, drawing and painting. These experiences set the stage for me to have an aptitude for communication. I attended a university in order to become a journalist and once again through a process of enlightenment became a documentary filmmaker. I have always wanted to express myself and tell the story of people, and film is my medium of choice.

Filmtage : Independent filmmaking often comes with limited resources and funding. How do you approach the creative process to maximize the impact of your storytelling within these constraints?

Frederick Taylor : Filmmaking is boundaries based on imagination and budget. The less budget you have the greater the challenge for your imagination. It is all ratio and scale to me. When I have the budget I think big. When I do not have budget I think in even bigger and more creative terms and spaces.

I start to break more rules and move into a different conceptual realm of time and space. So maybe the shot is not an airplane shot, it is a shot of a building from a very interesting architecturally inspired angle. Sometimes it is just shot of a group of men walking towards a collection of school desks in order to convey the idea that education is a very important accomplishment in one’s own freedom. Sometimes the case and the reality of the situation is, “I just can’t afford to shoot in a real school,” but I still want to get my point across. In a very strange way sometimes no money is the correct path and choice. Money can prohibit spontaneous and inspired thinking. Money can sometimes corrupt society and the creative mind.

Money for projects can come from an organization that believes in the idea, me as the filmmaker can self finance, or a non-profit can save the day.

Sometimes the funding can emerge from a private source. Music related projects can be funded by music companies. Generally I find my way to my projects through creativity and imagination. That is a very affordable and non-combative path.

Filmtage : The film you submitted has received critical acclaim for its unique style and narrative. Can you share the creative decisions and influences that contributed to the film's success?

Frederick Taylor : Interestingly enough a big part of my influence is global cinema. Specifically European, Asian, African and Latin. And some Russian cinema as it pertains to editing. American cinema is very homogenized and rarely steps into the the unknown. The unknown can strike fear in the hearts of limited thinking viewers and creators of film.

What we do not know excites me and puts all filmmakers and storytellers on equal ground. I want to be free, which is a constant desire in all things American.

Filmtage : Independent filmmakers often face challenges in distribution and reaching a wider audience. What strategies have you employed to promote and share your work with a broader community?

Frederick Taylor : My strategies have radicalized. I no longer think in traditional terms. I only think tech and global. No more demographics, only psychographics. I focus on what people like and interest them. As a result my reach is world wide.

Filmtage : As an independent filmmaker, you have the freedom to explore diverse and unconventional subjects. Could you tell us about a particular project that was close to your heart and the importance of bringing that story to the screen?

Frederick Taylor : Yes, After The Fall: HIV Grows Up, has been a project close to my heart for over 10 years.

After The Fall, is a film that focuses on the journey of young people in Romania that are HIV positive. They acquired the disease due to a faulty healthcare system in the early 90’s. Some of them have lived and many passed away. Others have fought to live with the help of kind souls and good people.

The first wave of my filming focused on their journey as teenagers and early twenty-somethings. I now desire to return to Romania and continue the story as they approach mid life.

Some of them have married. Others have merged into the HIV negative world and a select few have decided to remain with HIV positive people.

After The Fall is a fascinating journey into how the search for happiness is a series of complex incidents that effect us all. No matter the incidents we are all tied together and we need each other to live. Whether you are HIV positive or negative we all have one thing in common and that is love.

This story has become a flashpoint in my life that I wish to continue documenting moving forward. I want this to be an important longitudinal film. Time is the only way to tell some stories that are rooted in complexity.

This is a complexity that reach across cultures, races, religions, space and time.

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