Bearden High graduate is now a screenwriter in Los Angeles – Knoxville News Sentinel

DNA


Former Bearden area resident Taylor Goff has written quite a new chapter to his own life with his penned script for a television movie that recently began appearing on the Lifetime channel.

“My reaction was honestly excitement,” he said over the phone of seeing the finished product of “My Father’s Other Family.” “It has two really strong leads and good directing. It is amazing how much good acting adds to anything.”

The movie, which stars Kimberly-Sue Murray and Hannah Anderson, deals with a woman discovering through a DNA genealogy test that she has a half sister she did not know existed. This becomes an issue when the first woman becomes fearful of what might happen when the late father’s inheritance comes into play.


Just as the movie — which was set in Knoxville but filmed in Toronto — has some twists and turns, so has Goff’s life, but in a good way.

Now living in Los Angeles, he was first inspired to be a writer while at Bearden High before graduating in 2007, he said.

“When I was at Bearden, I had some really fantastic English teachers,” he said, remembering such mentors as Anna Marie Hughes, Kathleen Greenwell and Elizabeth Moderelli. “They were all really tough but taught me so much about writing and inspired me about the books I read and inspired me to be a writer.” 

From film studies to screenwriting   

He also remembers well a film studies class he took under history teacher Matt McWhirter, whom he remembers as opening his eyes to older films and how to look at them to learn how the world was when they were made.

The interest and inspiration continued as he went to the University of Tennessee and took a creative writing class from Margaret Lazarus Dean while majoring in English. “She was probably the biggest influence on me as a writer,” he said.


After UT, the son of Bruce Goff and the late Kathleen Goff continued to dream of a professional writing career. But he also helped people as an aide to people with disabilities, including those with autism, a calling he felt because his younger sister, Katie, has Down’s Syndrome.

“It was a really rewarding job,” he said.

However, he continued to dream of some kind of writing career, and after learning of two friends’ experiences going through film-related graduate programs, he decided to enroll at the University of Southern California in 2016.

After graduating with a master’s in fine arts degree in writing for screen or television two years later, he was able to get an assistant’s position at Reel One Entertainment, which independently produces movies for such networks as Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel.

“It’s one of the few places where it is easy to get an original idea made into a movie,” he said. “Almost everything is a remake or adaptation of a book or based on a real story.”

But it was some notes made on others’ scripts that caught the eyes of a superior and gave him an opportunity to write.

Catching a producer’s eye    

“Eventually one of the producers thought I had a good grasp on scripts because of my notes, and I had a degree in movie script writing,” he said. “You work hard at your job and someone notices and gives you an opportunity.”


Although Lifetime was able to have full approval of every step of the movie film project and some of his writing did get edited, he was able to follow the filming and editing regularly and liked the finished product of “My Father’s Other Family.”

He was also pleased that viewers seem to enjoy it. “We got solid reviews,” he said. “Looking at Twitter and watching people’s reactions in real time and getting to see what twists really surprised people, that was the most fun.”

The movie is being shown on the Lifetime network several more times.

Since he began working on his first movie in early 2019, Goff — whose professional name is Taylor Warren Goff — has been promoted to producer with Reel One and works a busy schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. many days.

He is also continuing to write. He recently finished a rewrite of a romantic comedy, has another thriller in the works with Tubi streaming service and is working on certain other projects in his spare time.

A show business career based
on collaboration, not competition   

Regarding life amid the LA movie industry, he said it is different from originally perceived in that, while it is competitive, he tries to see others as potential collaborators rather than competitors for jobs.

“The truth is that the way you progress and grow is by working with people in your classes or internships,” he said. In fact, he was able to get on at Reel One after a friend passed along his resume, and he is trying to keep fellow and younger former USC students in mind for positions now that he is in producing.


The movie industry is changing with increased streaming platforms, worries about fewer movies being shown in theaters that were idled during the pandemic, and even fewer viewers watching the Oscar ceremonies this year, in part due to more unfamiliarity with the films.

But Goff, who loves going to theaters to see movies, hopes the future is still bright for the industry overall in the post-pandemic era, as he is certainly enjoying it.

“The important word in show business is business,” he said. “At times it is hard, but at other times, when it is good, it is the absolute best.

“And it is the only thing for me.”