By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
After an extensive career in corporate America, Taylor Ri’chard, decided that he wanted to switch lanes completely and make films – and that is precisely what he has been doing for the past nine years. Now, he is releasing his second film, the psycho-horror film, Hallowed Be Thy Name. Peach spoke to the talented director and writer about the movie, its themes, releasing a film during a pandemic, and how the movement towards racial equity influences filmmaking.
You have recently released your movie, Hallowed Be Thy Name, on all digital platforms you wrote and directed. It’s a horror movie that deals with classic horror tropes of teenage angst, sexuality, and the supernatural, but it also feels very fresh and new. How did you come up with the idea for it?
You know, I love writing what I know about. At the core, this film is about a young man who moves to a small town and meets a gay guy who has a crush on him. That gay guy kind of represents me. I remember being in my small town and having crushes on guys because there weren’t many openly gay choices in a small town. At that time, everyone was so closeted. So, in essence, I always try to find a way to build myself into my stories. After I established the core, I was like, what if they all were chased by a monster, and what if that monster represented one that I heard about growing up. From there, the concept of Cauchemar as it relates to my film was born.
What is the process of writing and directing a movie – is the process somehow interlinked?
Every filmmaker, specifically those that are writers, have their own process of how they create a story and then how they allow that story to play out on film. For me, my process usually starts when I become extremely passionate about a topic or idea. Then I start doing a ton of research about it until I feel like I have some type of creative authority. Then I build my world and character arcs. When I step over to the directing side, I switch hats allowing the script to only serve as a road map to what we are trying to achieve. I allow the actors to show me what I didn’t’ see when writing it, and if I love it…we use that.
The story must remain fluid to pull out the best version of it on film.
Tell us about the people you worked with in creating Hallowed Be Thy Name.
When I started working on Hallowed Be Thy Name, I was a graduate student at SCAD Atlanta. I was able to tap into some of the hottest up and coming talent in Atlanta. They were amazing, professional, and extremely supportive of my leadership. I hope as we continue to grow in my career, I can continue to build amazing films alongside them all.
How has it been releasing a movie amid a global pandemic?
It was very difficult. As we were moving towards the Q/C (quality control, ed.) process with the film, it was the most challenging because everyone was shut down, so any corrections that needed to happen on the film took about a week and a half longer than it would have on a normal scenario.
However, challenging as it was, we knew how important it was to get content out for everyone in these difficult times where we are quarantining and social distancing.
You are also releasing this movie as we are experiencing nationwide demonstrations after George Floyd’s and so many other Black Americans killings. How has that been?
I can’t say that it really has affected the film release. Personally, as a Black man, it has been very interesting on how I’ve had to navigate my feelings about it on a social media standpoint. On one hand, I’m celebrating the release of my film, and on the other hand, I am terribly affected by what’s happening and want to post about it every time I’m on social media. So in that instance, it has been an interesting situation to deal with.
As a director, how would you relate significant issues like the pandemic and, more importantly, the movement towards ending racial injustice to a movie?
I think that as a director, it is my responsibility to capture this moment. I think that as a creator, it is my job to be the record and history teacher for those generations that will come after us. We, the artist, are to create and memorialize these moments so that we can never forget and educate everyone about the world we are dealing with right now.
It is also refreshing to see an openly gay character in the film. Is it important for you to explore gay storylines in your movies?
I think representation is important. As an openly gay person, it is important that I am always bringing new gay characters to different genres. Horror hasn’t been historically kind to gay characters from a feature film standpoint, and I wanted to show something different in regard to the “B story” and the type of sexual relationships that can exist in a horror film.
As we have just concluded Pride Month, what is your message of Pride during this challenging time in America?
My message of Pride to all of us in the LGBTQIA+ is to continue being visible. Continue to take up space and be a source of inspiration for the younger generation of those that continue to feel disconnected from society.
Representation is important, and so is visibility.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I am working on my next four projects right now, although I acquired the rights to a book that I have been after for 11 years, and we are entering into pre-development.
Please let us know how we can stream Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Hallowed Be Thy Name can be found streaming on all the VOD platforms and digitally at VUDU, Google Play, Amazon Prime, YouTube Movies, Xbox, Vimeo ON Demand, and Fandango Now. You can also buy the DVD or Blu-Ray from Target, BestBuy, or Amazon.