Screen Writer Q&A Taylor Grant
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
First off, I just want to say thank you so much for writing such a powerful, beautiful story. It is one that is resonated with me on a personal level. What compelled you to write such a story, what inspired it?
It was a combination of a couple things that really drove the idea. The first was when I read a heartbreaking story from a Border Patrol agent while researching an unrelated writing project. As you can imagine, Border Patrol agents have seen about the worst things you can imagine, and they tend to become rather tough-skinned over the years. However, this particular agent was in tears when, during a regular patrol, he noticed something lying next to a rather scrawny bush.
As he got closer, he realized it was the remains of a mother and her very young daughter. They were huddled together under the meager shade offered by the bush in a nearly shadeless area of the blistering desert. This is one of the most torturous deaths a human can endure, and here were the remains of this mother, clutching her child even after death--and all because they were simply hoping for a better life.
The story brought tears to my eyes, and it was at the moment that I truly recognized that these "illegal aliens" (which is such a dreadful, dehumanizing name) are mothers, children, the elderly--everyday people who are simply trying to survive. But unfortunately, thousands of these people--people with families that love them--have vanished in the desert, never to be seen again. This is where the name of the film came from "The Vanished." I wanted to give a face to the good, decent, hardworking people who make the often deadly trek to our country, in the hopes that they might be able to better provide for their loved ones.
Secondly, on my way to the office every day, I pass by this one street corner where an ever-changing group of Hispanic men stand for hours, often baking in the sun, just hoping to get some kind of low-level work. And every day I realized how blessed I am to live and work in America. These men are no different than me, they just didn't have the same opportunities as me. And this is why one of the main themes of the film is to show an American father and a Mexican father with the same financial struggles. I wanted to show that despite the border between us, the importance of a parent providing for their loved ones is the same.
What has been the response to the film from the time it was released until now?
We were very fortunate to have the film screen at the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival, which lead to the film getting distributed through Shorts TV, which has a significant international audience. And Kate Rees Davies, our director, has been approached by a couple studios due to the power of the film. We haven't played too many festivals for logistical reasons, but in the screenings we've had so far, audiences really connect with the story. One of the most frequent comments I get is that people want the story to continue, and many hoping for a feature-length version.
Kate and I have discussed this possibility, and we would love to expand the story into a two-hour feature. If there is one thing I've learned in my many years in Hollywood, it's that anything is possible.
What inspires you, not just as an artist, but as a human being?
Kindness, first and foremost. Particularly the kindness of strangers. And the struggles of the common man. I think there is an unspoken heroism to the average person doing the best they can with the tools they have.
Do you have any other projects you may be working on for the near future?
I have a few TV projects in development with a successful producer. And I have a commitment to write a novella for a dream publisher, hopefully followed by my first novel. Plus a follow-up story collection to my Bram Stoker Award-nominated book "The Dark at the End of the Tunnel" that my readers are asking for. I tend to bounce around from medium to medium, but I've always liked it that way. Please check out my website (taylorgrant.com) for updates on my latest releases.