Name: Heather Taylor
Business: Archetypal Images, LLC , documentary production company
Industry: Arts & Entertainment
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Reason for starting: When I was looking for my life’s profession, I stumbled upon a story about 20 women in 1929 who flew in an air race across the country. They had a true sparkle in their eye even as they were covered in grime and grit from working on their planes. One of the women was the first A&P mechanic in the US. Most maintainted their planes. All had to know a lot of STEM in order to navigate, pilot and maintain the planes. It was not the social norm in 1929 for women to fly, yet these women broke through barriers to follow their passion. I found this inspiring and a role model to me in following my own passion, no matter if it was outside the box of cultural thinking.
I left my job in 2007 specifically to produce this documentary because I wanted to inspire people to follow their passion by showing how the women from the 1929 women’s air derby were role models in this way. The women followed a non-conventional path because they wanted to do, fly, and flying was thought to be a man’s game. By following the energy of their passion, they created an entire community of supporters which benefited the entire country and future generations.
How do you define success? Success is knowing I have touched someone in a positive way through my life’s journey and actions.
Biggest Success: Receiving the National Aviation Hall of Fame Combs Gates Award along with a dozen other significant wins ranks right up there. However, when I see a little girl with a sparkle in her eye after learning of the women in the derby or receive an email from a dad saying how much his daughter loved the film and her new role models are Louise Thaden, Ruth Elder and Marvel Crosson, that is pretty sweet. I also love hearing the bond that is created when a grandmother and granddaughter, dad and daughter, mother and son see the film. In addition, having the support of many family members of the pilots has been an incredible feeling. Several even came to the premiere. Being able to give them insight into their loved one gives me a real feeling of pride. Lastly, many WASPs saw the film and praised it for capturing the way it really was to fly back then. Some were taught to fly by those in the derby so that was high praise!
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Earning an income. Right after I left my job to pursue producing this film, the economy crashed. Even though I was able to obtain a loan and produce the film, most who request screenings are non-profits and have no money so want to show the film for free. In addition, publicity and marketing has been extremely difficult, especially since I wish to maintain the women’s integrity and not sensationalize the story. I have been active in social media and continue staying current in the industry by attending seminars and following discussion as to what other filmmakers and those with similar missions are trying to do.
Who is your most important role model? Obviously the 20 women of the derby inspired me significantly as I have completely dedicated my life and life savings to tell their story. Beyond the women of the derby, those closest to me in regards to family certainly have been and continue to be my role models including my maternal grandmother, mother, aunts, dad and brothers. Each has taught me invaluable lessons along life’s journey.
Edited by The Story Exchange