In the Spotlight: Malcolm "Reece" Taylor
Reece has a vision for his future and he is going to make it happen. I first met this young writer at the Royal Starr filmmaker mixer. There must have been two hundred people there. He was off in the corner working on his script. His nose glued to his laptop while everyone else mingled.
When I introduced myself, he told me he’s getting ready to network but he has to break this one scene first. That’s when I knew he is a born writer. I myself am constantly breaking down scenes in my head, even during conversations. It’s the compulsion, the need to write, and make it perfect which drives one to success. Reece has this quality, which is why I am very excited to introduce you to him.
This is Reece Taylor…
I was born in Heraklion, Crete to a small-town girl from Kentucky and a city boy born and raised in Detroit (Journey reference aside, this is true). My parents, older sister and I moved around the globe until we settled in Detroit. I’m the youngest of 3, and I went to a performing arts high school where I learned the technical side of film and television production.
I furthered my knowledge at Specs Howard School, and struggled to find my footing afterwards as I jumped from job to job and balancing everything with college. Throughout this process, the one consistent thing I did was write screenplays. It helped me through the struggles and I realized that I love more than anything else and this is what I need to do with my life. Since then, I’ve become a creative writing major and dedicate my time to writing comedy.
I consider myself a “dude” as I’m a league bowler, Pokemon enthusiast , I love meteorology and zoology, and of course my favorite animals are wolves. As a hobby, I study cryptozoology and tend to put different cryptids into my writing as inside jokes. I’m a coffee drunk and I enjoy pizza for every meal.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
In 11th grade at Detroit School of Arts. The school had a radio and television program, and we started learning from the 9th grade how to work from both a technical and performance viewpoint. During my 11th grade year, I was taught how to write screenplays. We learned how to set up a scene, work through dialogue, and the basic story structure. It’s here where I started writing sitcom scripts, none of which will ever see the light of day… hopefully.
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Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
Humor itself. I love to laugh and I try to spread that to others as well. Shows like The Simpsons and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia were mainstays for me because they have a unique look at everyday life and life experience, and as I watched, I wanted to make that same impact. I have since developed my writing voice and focused on comedy from my own perspective which focuses on making a square character fit into a triangular hole.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
My high school teacher Clinton Chico. Though I have a great support system with my family, he’s the 1st person who read any of my writing, gave me suggestions, and helped me to film scenes from my initial work in 2008. I credit him as the reason I became a screenwriter, as he broke down the writing process and encouraged collaboration and feedback among students. My first script was called “The Oddities”, which was based on the misadventures of me and my family, and he and several classmates helped me film a few scenes, though the project went incomplete. Around this time, I was still finding my voice as a writer, so the fact that we didn’t finish may be for the greater good.
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
It was after my first rejection. Back in 2016, I had entered the Page International Screenwriting Awards and I didn’t realize that I was not as good as I thought I was. About a month before the competition, I looked at a few other scripts and books and had an epiphany: “Oh, dear God, I’m not ready!” My script was 15-18 pages over the standard, my characters were one dimensional, and I had more errors than I could count. I tried to see if I could resubmit, but I couldn’t. I hoped they would overlook it in hopes that the story was compelling enough. A month later, I found out I didn’t make the semifinals, and cried my eyes out at work. Not because I lost, but I knew I didn’t want anything more at that moment than to be a writer.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Success is the effort I put into my work and the ability to connect with my audience. I was always told “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”, and it stuck with me. If I gave my all on a script, I’m successful. My goal as a writer is to tell a story and create characters you can invest in, and, though you don’t connect with everyone, you must connect with your audience. More so than the hard work, true success is when someone says they identify with my characters and their journey. It’s why I’m here.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
I’m very much an early bird, though I’m a walking nightmare until my coffee. I typically lie in bed for a while and play a few mobile games and look up YouTube videos and WWE. Depending on my day I’ll either read or study for some time or hit the gym. Though I’m developing my screenwriting career.
Night is when I do most of my writing and editing, so I listen to music and write until I get sleepy. After that I do my rosary and go to sleep. Personally, I think everyone should have a physical, intellectual, and creative outlet, so no matter what, as long as I write, study, and hit the gym, I feel I succeeded that day.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Listening to feedback! Anyone can learn the format, and as long as they understand plot structure and characters, they can write, but taking feedback is another story. Everyone thinks their script is good, but we’re all biased in our own heads. I know it’s hard to hear sometimes, but it’s necessary to see other perspectives or better ideas from peers and experts. You don’t have agree with all of their suggestions since it can come down to personal preference, but at the very least look for what is the most common criticism or suggestion and change that.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Identifying with people. As much as I talk about how people need to identify with your characters, it’s my biggest struggle. I’ve suffered from social anxiety my whole life and stayed away from people, which made my writing suffer. I wasn’t writing characters, only my perception of them. Surely enough, when people would read my writing, they couldn’t connect. I had to overcome my fear to succeed and get to know people. Ever since, I write better characters and think of how they would react to different environments.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
My greatest reward has been seeing new perspectives. The more I write, the more people read it, and people offer very interesting ideas and insights to character and stories. At the end of the day, you can write a script, but it’s up to the audience to interpret it. If they’re thinking, I’ve done my job.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
How they perceive the world. I write the world through a jaundiced eye and my goal is to make it comedic. How do the people around me perceive theirs? Is it cheerful? Do they write it as a horror film? More than their ideas, how do they view their world? In my comedies, I write it as a character study, so I want to see what their character is made of. What mind is typing the screenplay?