You won’t have to look closely to spot Taylor Olson either on-screen or off-screen at FIN 2019.
He sat near the back of Opening Gala Murmur on Thursday, September 12, assumedly to support local director Heather Young’s first debut feature. He smiled and waved at people around him — comfortably part of the film community in the city.
So comfortable, in fact, that he’s been a staple in the festival for years. This year alone, he directs three shorts — Hope, Masc and The Date — and appears in more.
He’s steadily built indie cred on stage, on-screen and behind the camera, but remains humble.
“I am surprised the people at FIN reacted so well to these shorts,” he said. “One is a story that feels really personally fulfilling to explore, another is a ridiculous, awkward comedy written by one of my best friends, and the last is a 48-Hour Film Fest film made with wonderful humans and my soulfully beautiful five-year-old daughter and my kick ass partner”
It’s sweet serendipity that the first time this reviewer saw Olson on-screen — a man completely unbeknownst to him — was in a film he co-starred in with partner Koumbie. It was hilariously titled Ariyah & Tristan’s Inevitable Break-Up, and was a low-key favourite of the 2016 FIN Fest.
Koumbie also played a role in Opening Gala Murmur, and the two make up a power couple in Halifax’s film landscape. Now, in Koumbie’s footsteps, Olson dovetails from screen to directing behind it, he muses which he likes more.
“That’s a great question. This might seem like the easy way out, but I can’t choose ’cause they’re different part of the cog of the machine that is storytelling. Geez, that sounds pretentious, but it’s true in my mind. I love storytelling,” he said.
He’s so thankful to have FIN once again supporting him, his art, and those around him in what they do.
“The film festival has been so integral to my growth as an actor and filmmaker. It allows us to showcase our work locally, which helps us get the next grant and more. But as an actor often you book the next gig because a filmmaker saw you in a film at the film fest,” he said.
“And more importantly, it helps create community, and I’m not sure much matters more than that.”
Lately, Olson finds himself taking risks, like the one he took at the Halifax Fringe Festival playing a man with 10 personalities in play Monster.
“The search for honest, genuine vulnerability makes me feel alive. It’s so hard to find and expose and allow, but there’s nothing quite like it when it happens. Maybe that makes me a weird sorta twisted adrenaline junkie,” he jokes.
He only has one thing he hopes people will get out of his offerings this year.
“I hope they feel, think, laugh and reflect. But most of all I hope they aren’t bored.
That’s the number one sin. I just want people to see local films.”