When Deon Taylor first stepped into the world of filmmaking back in the early 2000s, he had absolutely no idea what he was doing. Over time, Taylor honed his craft, and now, almost 20 years later, he’s one of the top filmmakers, having generated over $100 million dollars in box office revenue through his independent production studio Hidden Empire Film Group.
Deon Taylor was born in Chicago and spent most of his childhood in Gary, Indiana before moving to Sacramento, California with his brother and mother.
“We were poor as dogsh**,” he said. “My mom moved us out of Gary so that we could have a better life during high school.” Gary, Indiana is the murder capital of the world and was no place for Deon to chase his dreams of becoming a filmmaker.
Taylor played high school basketball in Sacramento and received a full-ride scholarship to San Diego State before going on to play professionally in Germany for a few years.
Taylor says it was his time in Germany that birthed his career in filmmaking.
“While I was over there, (I realized) that I’ve always been a movie guy,” he recalled. “(Growing up), we had three VHS tapes: Golden Child, Predator and Platoon, OK? No TV, no nothing. It was NBC (and) Michael Jordan on Sundays–because whenever the Bulls were playing, that’s what I was watching–and the rest of the time, I spent watching those three movies over and over and over and over and over. Like, I can give you Predator line-by-line, to this day. Fast forward to me in Germany. How long can you practice basketball? There was nothing to do and I was in East Germany… So I would just go home and I had this girlfriend at the time and she would just send movies–I couldn’t watch them fast enough because I had ten or twelve hours every day of not doing anything.”
After watching hundreds of movies (around 700 to be exact), Deon drafted his own idea for a screenplay and in 2003 moved to Los Angeles, where he slept on people’s couches while taking meetings in Hollywood, and he pitched the script. The pitch was rejected, and was the first of many no’s he received as a hungry, inexperienced filmmaker.
Refusing to take no for an answer, Deon set out to open his own doors and, along with his partner and producer, Roxanne Avent Taylor, and longtime friend, billionaire investor and philanthropist, Robert F. Smith, he launched Hidden Empire Film Group.
“We were told no so much, eventually, we had to tell ourselves ‘Yes.’ I remember the day I looked at Roxanne and said, ‘I’m going to make my own movies.’ We would have never made Hidden Empire or created these films or went off and did the stuff we’re doing if somebody would have hired me,” the self-taught filmmaker told Variety in 2021.
Taylor has released a number of successful films under Hidden Empire. “Fatale,” a critically acclaimed thriller that stars two-time Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank, Michael Ealy and others, grossed over $10 million worldwide at the peak of Covid-19, when movie theaters were not fully open.
“Supremacy,” a drama thriller based on a true story starring Academy Award-winning actor Danny Glover, Derek Luke, Mahershala Ali and others, was also a hit for Taylor’s production house, as was the psychological thriller “The Intruder,” which starred Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, and Meagan Good. “The Intruder” made over $41 million at the box office and is perhaps Taylor’s most commercially successful film to date.
Hidden Empire is also responsible for “Black & Blue,” starring Oscar-nominated actress Naomie Harris along with Tyrese Gibson, which grossed over $22 million worldwide, as well as “Meet the Blacks,” starring Mike Epps, Gary Owen, and more, which earned over $10 million at the box office.
With a track record like that, Deon Taylor is well on his way to becoming one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers and could potentially be a contender for his very own Oscar statue in the near future.
His latest film, “FEAR,” recently took the internet by storm, with its trailer receiving over 10 million views within the first three days of its release. Starring Joseph Sikora and Clifford “T.I.” Harris, the highly anticipated psychological horror film is set to release in theaters on January 27th.
Watch the official trailer for “FEAR” below.
Taylor also recently teamed up with Floyd Mayweather to release a docuseries telling the undefeated boxer’s life story. He’s also hard at work producing a period piece called “Freedom Ride” about the late civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis and the 13 original freedom riders.
“My goal as an independent filmmaker is to continue telling important and impactful stories that spark a conversation and create change,” said Taylor. “Floyd Mayweather is the greatest boxer of all time and John Lewis is one of the most iconic leaders of our generation. It is a privilege and honor to be able to share their incredible stories in the coming years and I promise audiences will not be disappointed. Get ready, we’re about to make some magic happen!”
Deon Taylor’s films have created a credible fanbase of moviegoers that love his edgy style, igniting them to talk back to the silver screen.
“Fatale” and “Intruder” are movies that fans have raved about and reviewed as twisted. His films evoke emotion in the spirit of great directors like John Singleton, Quentin Tarantino, Jordan Peele and others.
Although Deon is still creating his legacy and making his mark in Hollywood, one great sign of a brighter future is that the spirit of his creativity and films have made fans stand in long lines wanting to enter.
Keep up with Deon Taylor and his journey by following him on Instagram.
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