MAKING ART WORK: Taylor Mott, filmmaker and editor

April 16 2021

MAKING ART WORK is a series that taps into the knowledge and experience of seasoned creatives from our community and beyond for the benefit of our students.

Looking back on your undergraduate years in the Department of Film & Media Arts, what are some of your favorite memories?

A lot of great memories for me were made on the graduate students’ film sets — I was really lucky to have such great friends in the graduate program. I loved helping out on their extremely welcoming sets, I learned so much from them.

Of course I have to talk about the Animation Treks — both the Career Treks hosted by the CFA, FMAD, and Career Center, as well as the student-led trips to CTN Animation eXpo. It was really cool to nerd out with everyone! Those trips really inspired me and encouraged me to find community and to pursue the arts more.

Finally, I loved our screenwriting courses taught by Paul Larsen. He cultivates a welcoming space in his classrooms. He really influenced a lot of where I wanted to go with my career.

Did you have any professionals that positively influenced your pursuits as an artist? And when did your passion for Film & Media Arts develop?

One of my top inspirations is the film Swiss Army Man (2016) directed by The Daniels. I am also starting to get more into the music video scene - it’s definitely the most commercialized version of experimental film. Recently, the director Emerald Fennell — the style in which she made Promising Young Woman (2020) was incredible.

I’m kind of a late bloomer when thinking about where my passion for film began. Everything goes back to storytelling for me. I was fully immersed in Theatre growing up and when I got to college, I knew I wanted to do something different. I stumbled upon animation and really enjoyed it. Later in my degree, I started pursuing opportunities with live-action film as opportunities presented themselves. Live-action film is one of the most exciting forms of storytelling for me - the collaboration and perseverance that occurs to get a film out the door is huge!

How has your relationship with Film & Media Arts changed over the years?

I feel like my interests have shifted drastically, to be honest. I’m going to be a Director, I really like camera, back to animation, what about audio, I really like screenwriting (still doing it). But again, it always comes back to storytelling. I love telling stories and hearing stories. How I’ve settled into editing - my current job, and obsession — I see it as the final step in the story. You have a lot of influence over the final project and get to take all this great material to piece it together. In the end, you encompass the original intent and vision through all this collaboration, and adding in your skill to make it your own.

Film can be extremely high-paced. I need to constantly remind myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint -— I need to be aware of where I can realistically be in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years. My artistic skills and abilities will continue to grow. Film has such a transient nature, like other arts. Just enjoy your opportunities while you have them, and be sure to acknowledge your inevitable growth by consistently doing your art. I won’t, and shouldn’t be, at the top of my career in the next couple years.

What advice would you give to current students and even recent alums to set themselves up for success as an artist?

Always advocate for yourself. Also, have a good grasp on humility, as you will constantly be learning. Graduating is a humbling experience in realizing how much further you have to go, but it’s still so exciting. If you’re anxious about getting out in the world and getting where you want to be, turn that anxiousness into action - create, start those projects, meet your community. When you have material that you’re excited about and working on things where your passion is present, that will lead you to your opportunities.