5 terrific things about the filmmaker behind Traffik
Traffik tells the story of a group of friends on vacation who are terrorised by a gang of bikers with a dark secret. Here are five things about Deon Taylor, the man behind the movie.
African-American filmmaker Deon Taylor is the director and writer of the 2018 thriller Traffik, in which a group of friends on vacation is terrorised by a gang of bikers with a dark secret. Here are five things about the man behind the movie that make us want to see his work.
- Great basketball talent
Deon, now 43, grew up dirt poor, but his mother moved heaven and earth to get him out of Gary, Indiana – what Deon calls “the murder capital of the world”. Once in California, his remarkable talent as a basketball player got him noticed. He was the first in his school to get a full scholarship for basketball, and a few years later he was recruited to go and play for the Kemkatz basketball team in Kemnitz, Germany. While he was there, he realised that what he really wanted to do was make movies.
- A biology degree
Deon has a biology degree from the San Diego State University (earned on that on a full basketball scholarship). It’s proof that you don’t have to be locked into the career you studied for and that you can be whatever you set your mind to. “I've sacrificed a lot to pursue this,” Deon said in an interview earlier this month. “And the pursuit was not about anything else but just the love of making movies and trying to figure out how to make a movie in Hollywood.”
- Horror film aficionado
Deon is crazy about horror movies and thrillers and actually produced several in this genre before branching out to tackle other stories. It could have something to do with what he watched as a kid. Deon has revealed that his family had exactly three VHS video cassette tapes: The Golden Child, Platoon and Predator. When he wasn’t watching NBC, he spent his time “watching those three movies over and over and over and over and over,” he says. “Like, I can give you Predator line-by-line, to this day.”
- First film
Deon founded his production company The Hidden Empire Film Group (HEFG) in Sacramento, California, where he wrote and directed his first film, Dead Tone, in 2009. The set-up is great: it’s a thriller in which college students make prank phone calls but accidentally dial a madman, who then comes after them. This year, Deon will release four new movies, which all fall into that quintessential “90s psychological thriller” genre that’s seeing a major comeback on the big screen and this time with black actors as the principal cast.
- Surprise endings
Traffik perfectly showcases this filmmaker’s skill. Just when we think we know how the story will end, Deon changes it up with interesting, unexpected, and often scary twists. He’s been able to do this with his films largely because he has remained an independent filmmaker. Of his latest film, Intruder, he says the film only has the ending it does because the major studios were not involved in the production process. “No studio would end the movie like I ended it … No one does that!”
Watch Traffik on Sunday 12 May on M-Net (101) at 20:00
Also available on Catch Up and online at DStv Now »