2022/23 REEL & UPDATE

Burning Boat Films has undergone several changes in the past year and as we begin 2024 I felt it’s a good time to give on update. 

As Burning Boat is a huge part of my life this will be a bit of a life update as well, if you’re not into that, enjoy the REEL, and feel free to skip this :).

For those who don’t know, Burning Boat was co-founded in 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark by Mads and myself (Taylor).

4 Years later, in 2022 I felt that Denmark wasn’t going to be my home forever, and that I should move back to the US. I had recently ended a relationship and was ready to burry my head in some work to get through a difficult period. I filmed a short film in late April 

and then decided to go travel the US and see what came of it. While I was working remotely, the team was finishing up a project and was getting ready to work remotely as well, as I was not the only one planning to move. Up until this point it had been about 7 of us working out of a living room/office.

I traveled around the US from California, to Colorado, to Wyoming, to Nashville, Texas, New Orleans and back. Slowly as the summer went on, I started to feel my situation careening out of a control…

I try to focus on balancing three aspects of life: my WORK, my SELF, and my RELATIONSHIPS. It’s rare (at least for me) to have all three in a state of uncertainty, and when it does it can leave me sort of spinning in space with nothing to hold onto. Like I said I had ended a personal relationship, and I was moving cross continent leaving my community behind. Two of the three spheres were undergoing some significant change so I was leaning heavily on the third, WORK sphere. Having this sphere remain consistent kept me very grounded and was my last point of contact to some form of certainty and familiarity. But this sphere started cracking at the edges as well…

Towards the end of summer it was clear that there were some larger problems at hand, running a remote company was much tougher than expected, I was starting to feel as if I’d left my team behind and made the wrong decision in leaving Denmark, and ultimately the project we were working on had some issues in a number of ways, and within weeks it felt like everything was falling apart. I came back to Europe to fix as much as possible, but it was too little too late and lead to a massive decision.

After 4.5 years of co-running Burning Boat, Mads and I found that we were trying to steer the ship in slightly different directions, and instead of continuing to compromise and not having a clear path forward in fully pursuing our individual dreams, I decided to buy Burning Boat as a whole, and Mads started a new venture with his Brother.  

I’ll be the first to admit I genuinely did not think I could run a company by myself and it somewhat terrified me to be given the reigns. I can be a very chaotic presence and I always felt that Mads filled out my flaws as a leader and without him I felt those flaws would be exposed. We finished our last project in a significant amount of debt as a company, and there was nothing on the horizon in terms of future projects. I used the small amount of money I had saved over 4 years of running the company and paid off final contractors and debt and turned a new page by leaving the Danish company structure and starting a new company with the Burning Boat name in the US.

I downsized from a studio apartment to living with 3 roommates on my friends’ parents’ property, procrastinated for a good 2 months, called connections, tried to network, embarrassed myself multiple times, and ultimately had nothing to show for it at the end of 2022. 5 years of running a business and I was losing my mind at the thought that I might be back to square one and basically have nothing to show for it. 

The calendar trickled into 2023, and suddenly, out of nowhere a person arrived at my new co-working space to give a talk. It just so happened he was an early employee at Apple, and had written an incredible book on REWIRING the education system. Burning boat had an old connection with an incredible director (Spencer) who was working on a documentary about education in America, and this seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. After seeing tens of people walk up to him and pitch him various ideas, I figured I’d hate myself if I didn’t at least say hi. 

Multiple weeks later and the project was fully funded and ready to work on. It felt completely surreal. I never finished deals, I never sold people on projects, I was more of the operations guy and suddenly I saw that somehow, in my own way, I could actually do this. All the skills I admired and still admire about Mads had rubbed off on me enough and somehow I was able to do this without exactly knowing how. 

This exact moment turned everything around. The Education Doc “Death of Recess” is nearing a final edit after 9 months, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about where it is at. 

 Shortly after we started working with another brilliant director, Victor, on his debut Feature Doc, KING OF THE STREETS THE DOCUMENTARY. We Traveled to Sweden to film, created a Kickstarter Campaign, raised 70K$, filmed in Thailand, and are rocketing into 2024 with big production plans.

Finally we managed to squeeze in one more short film at the end of the year, written by Dillan | AS IS TRADITION. 

 

We ended up matching last year’s revenue, raised $70K for a kickstarter, and are continuing to work towards this dream.

 

Your life can literally change for better or worse in an instance and that’s what makes it great. Love and loneliness are two sides of the same coin, success and humiliation too, probably. 

Now this has all been about me, but film (and Burning Boat) only works through collaboration. And although structurally Burning Boat is very different, the collaborative efforts remain the same and the following people are who made up Burning Boat in 2023: 

 

-Robin Watson, Victor Palm, Grayg Nequrealt, Spencer Taylor, Connor Smith, Nicola Smanio, Jonathan Cuvelier, Mads Beier, Julietta Balasque, Paulius Neverbick,