San Antonio.- Local filmmakers Taylor James Johnson (right) and Dylan Cody Altman (left) are the brains behind Taylor Trash Productions.
The guys that make up Taylor Trash Productions, Taylor James Johnson and Dylan Cody Altman, met in 2004 on the first day of high school at San Antonio’s North East School of the Arts (NESA) because they both had no friends.
“I saw him in the cafeteria on the first day of school. He had no friends, and I had no friends. I was like ‘hey I remember him from cinema class,’” Johnson said. It was man-love at first sight for the two young filmmakers and quickly learned they shared the same taste in movies.
During their time together at NESA, Altman and Johnson were in a lot of the same classes and ultimately became best friends.
“That’s where the duo started,” Altman remembers. “Yes! The dynamic duo,” Johnson reiterated with excitement.
Their friendship/work relation is interesting and from our conversation I got the vibe that Johnson was the more rambunctious of the two, but that Altman was the quiet-riotous type. However, they both possess that subtle amount of “crazy” that every actor, filmmaker, director, writer, musician or comedian should have. I wouldn’t let Johnson and Altman watch my kids or do my taxes, but I would let them make my movies.
The two possess quirks found in free-spirits and judging by their films they don’t care what society has to say about their style or how they make their films. Their website and YouTube channels are full of videos displaying their unique style. They take the ordinary and make it hilarious (and sometimes creepy) but it’s always entertaining.
“We’ve developed a kind of very guerilla style, unplanned unscripted style of filmmaking,” Altman added.
“We make so many at once and we’re constantly making like four films at a time and we’ve been doing that since high school,” Johnson said about how they go about the filmmaking process. “It’s just the two of us with a camera. We set it up and act in it. It’s been that way for years.”
“The hardest part about film is finding someone you can work with and to share your ideas,” Altman said. “We were very fortunate to find someone who we can share our ideas and finish each other’s sentences.”
“Sentences!” Johnson yells over Altman as he is finishing his sentence.
In an attempt to show how well they know each other Johnson tries to finish Altman’s sentence and the next three, but he fails—but it was hilarious. Like their films the two are entertaining, even in regular conversation.
I ask about their names and Johnson replied, “No names but we have many secret handshakes but can’t reveal them.”
Then, I clarify that I was talking about the business side of the equation and replies, “oh, oh yeah Taylor Trash Productions.” That is the name you’ll find attached to all their videos—Taylor represents Taylor and Altman is Trash.
Historically there have been magical, real and make-believe duos in the past like Scully and Mulder, Siegfried and Roy, Cheech and Chong, or Pinky and the Brain. The guys from Taylor Trash fall somewhere between Cheech and Chong and Pinky and the Brain, but don’t let their free-spirit fool you.
They both are well-educated and it shows in their film because, yes they are odd and weird, but they have sophistication and professionalism to their work that makes them absolutely legitimate and separates them from Frankie Filmmaker who uses his dad’s camcorder.
Johnson went to the Savannah College of Art and Design and Altman to Columbia College in Chicago where they both honed their skills and learned that their professors had lied to them.
“They hammered into our minds that you need 700 best boys on a set, you need 40 apple boxes to stand on or you’re not being professional or you’re not being a filmmaker and don’t know what you’re doing. But, what we’ve learned is that they’re lying to you,” Johnson said.
Johnson explains that he pays more on gas that their films typically, but you’d never know if you watched one of their films. They both explain how it is incumbent upon the story and why you’re telling it that makes it entertaining.
“If the story is there people won’t realize that in reality it is really just a guy in the field. There is other ways to tell the story then spend the money. It is the statement behind the film,” Johnson explained.
“Whether the message is a fart joke or the message is equal rights we still approach it the same way,” Johnson said.
“We focus solely what is on the frame (of the camera),” Altman added. “But, if you take away technology, take all that away and you’re just left with the story and the way you tell it. That’s what we’re big on.”
The guys didn’t have a definite answer on what their style is, but I best describe it as weird but comical and entertaining. I struggle to find the meaning in some of their work like “Black Cracker” a Black Swan/Nutcracker Parody or “Block Busters” where three hoodlums go on the ultimate cinematic adventure but they’re funny.
Hopefully they’ve made some friends since high school but if not I think they’ll be alright with just each other.
Dennis M. Ayotte, Jr. is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.