Taylor Williams, surfing fanatic and Humanities major at John Paul the Great Catholic University, urges artists to be thoughtful in their creativity for others.
Andrew Ascough: What is the importance of your major at JPCatholic?
Taylor Williams: I think the phrase, “the humanities is the heart,” summarizes how important the Humanities program is to any institution. The components of the humanities (philosophy, literature, religion, and even art like poetry and music) naturally find their way into any environment and center any practical skill, grounding it in our human condition.
AA: How do you fit in with a school that is focused on film and the arts?
TW: If your first question was the genus, this second one is the species. Apply what I said earlier about the humanities to the other majors at our school, and then ask this question: How are we going to know how to operate our practical skills and impact culture for Christ without a clear understanding of the human condition? I do not believe that you can answer this question without grounding your thinking at least a little bit in one aspect of the humanities.
AA: How do you view films and their purpose in society?
TW: I have some thoughts, not a full answer, to this question. I do believe films are often a response, in that filmmakers ask themselves what they care about and then question why it is worth caring about. The result of these considerations, on the part of the filmmaker, often end up in their films. Some believe that they can make a film ‘just for kicks’. I think they are fooling themselves. The film’s content and perspective will impress itself on whoever views any film, as well as those who make it. This means all films will, to some extent, influence society towards a certain way of thinking.
AA: What should be the mission of JPCatholic students when they create? Are they fulfilling that mission?
TW: I believe students should look for the holes within society where their perspective is needed and fill the emptiness with their product. With regards to film, if one feels called to comedy, great! To dramas, fantastic! To documentaries, terrific! If you believe society needs to see all these genres morphed together for an epic ‘docu-dramedy,’ wonderful! Filmmakers, just be honest about what you think you are called to do.
Is JPCatholic successful in this mission? I am unable to say. This is true especially for the media students because I do not attend the showings for most films made by students. Why? Most of the films that are released are shown at film festivals, alongside other films. I hear about how some (not all or most, but some) student-made films have content that, after hearing about it, I would personally deem as distasteful. In my opinion, it is too risky for me to go to these film festivals because even though there are likely brilliant films being made and shown at these festivals, I do not want to risk seeing a film in the lineup that I later regret seeing.
This next statement is not an accusation towards anyone but rather a plea. Please be thoughtful about how you are actually needed as a filmmaker. All aspects of your work have an influence.