Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In this week’s edition, we’re beyond ecstatic to introduce Taylor Hentrup, an emerging, independent and documentary filmmaker based out of California!
An emerging filmmaker hailing from the suburbs of Detroit, Taylor Hentrup has always harbored a certain fascination with analyzing people, places, and things through different perspectives. Naturally, Taylor’s interest in his environment, space, and the people that inhabited it, lead to a natural attraction to cinema: “My desire to want to experience the world to the fullest lead to my love of film and what can be shown/felt through a camera.”
Taylor’s passion for exploring the world through a camera lens led him to pursue a degree in filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago, where he was able to experience the 2016 election among a community of his own peers: “It was a moment in time where comedy essentially died, friends went their separate ways politically, and artists became stagnant.” And though Taylor graduated from his university in 2018, another disaster followed shortly after: “It really was a perfect moment [to graduate] before COVID destroyed everyone’s ambitions for a short while. Many of the artists from America I know have been stuck in a sort time gap, unsure of what to make, unsure who to make it for, and unsure what's even important to themselves anymore (including myself). I feel I have a hard time getting this across in my work, but I truly love the world around me, the people I share my life with, and the people who never got their chance to shine.”
What inspires you and your creative process?
Film has always inspired me, watching countless movies every weekend and after school, begging to go to the blockbuster down the road. One thing I can truly respect my parents for is not locking me away from movies, no matter the subject matter. I had an unhealthy love for movies at such a young age and it led me not just to want to make them, but have the life experiences warranted for storytelling. A setting can really change ones outlook on life as well. The Midwest always led me to dream in the literal coldness of America and the people who have pushed themselves towards a dream but never thought they could make it without being in a big city. The west coast where i'm located at now brings me images of sadness surrounded by beauty. It sounds silly and pretentious to myself but its true.
What is the connection between your art and social justice?
I don't work to change the mind of the world, I work to have them experience more. If whatever I do changes their perception of a certain person or place, then i'm happy for them.
What motivated you to pursue film making? What were the challenges you overcame in this?
I never really felt connected to anything else in life. I'm not particularly good at the sciences and did poor in high school. Life sort of pushed me in that direction, we are told to pursue our interests, not what seems economically more appropriate. The challenges everyone faces is if their good enough at what they do, and that's elevated in the arts when everyone is there to judge it, not just your boss in the office. Being your own critic helps, pushes you evolve, but if you go to far you'll push your interest away from your heart.
The trailer to the documentary Mr. Ice Cream Man: The Ballad of Roddy Hogan
Created by Taylor Hentrup
What is Mr. Ice Cream Man: The Ballad of Roddy Hogan about? It's about a strange but heartwarming Detroit resident who delivered ice cream to its residents for over 30 years. However he is far more than an ice cream truck driver. Roddy Hogan is a persona of his, a mixture of Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper, two prolific wrestlers from the 80's. He's a Hulk Hogan impersonating, screenwriting, comedian (and juggalo on the side). Roddy has been trying to get his screenplay "Mr. Ice Cream Man on Trial" made for almost a decade at this point and he has sought out A-list celebrities to try and get eyes on it. With little previous success, Roddy continues his journey, now with the added help of myself, in trying to get his movie made through his wrestling super fan fame and influence. The goal is that we get his movie made, and that's looking closer than ever with newfound connections. What was your inspiration behind creating this documentary? The man himself. I was working in a movie theater at the time I met him. He and a friend walked up to me at the box office and started joking around, breaking balls, and talking about a movie. I asked and he told me the title, which I was immediately sold with. He looked just like Hulk Hogan and was trying to make a film about himself as an ice cream truck driver and his older more successful brother, played by Hulk Hogan. A film where a man gets placed on trial for evading his children (all 30 of them) and hitting someone in the parking lot with his truck. It becomes a grand courtroom drama and everything about it scream insanity, right up my alley. I never forgot my meeting with Roddy Hogan and years later I connected with him on facebook and the rest is history.
What was the most rewarding part of the filmmaking process?
The fact that you created something for the world. That fact that you can literally show the benefit of the filmmaking process in the world.
"Rat Film" is an experimental music video documenting the city rats of Chicago
Created by Taylor Hentrup
What is your advice to independent artists looking to create their own work? To me, all filmmakers are narcissists. Not being afraid of your own ego and letting loose without losing your humanity is important. The fact that we believe our stories are important to tell is narcissism and if you can accept that and be yourself it will be shown in your work. Don't be intimidated by those around you, everyone else is questioning what the hell they're going to do too. It feels harsh to say but I have a hard time wording it any other way.
Do you have any advice on how we can do our part in supporting emerging filmmakers like yourself? Yeah, help them when they ask you to move furniture for a scene or need hands on set. Not having enough people on your set is a killer for most student/independent films. Social media helps of course and sharing and spreading work always gets more eyes on it. Don't give up, please don't give up. There are more people than ever trying to work in the film industry and the amount of bodies shouldn't intimidate you, it should drive you to be different in your work.