Featured Filmmakers: Taylor Laughlin & Rachel Palumbo, Co-Directors, Co-Writers, Co-Producers of Short “Sapere Aude”

“He who begins is half done. Dare to be wise. Make a beginning.” – Horace

Taylor and Rachel - Sapere Aude

Taylor Laughlin & Rachel Palumbo at Cannes

Visitng us from Los Angeles this year, filmmaking duo Taylor Laughlin and Rachel Palumbo are here on Maui to present their film school captsone, SAPERE AUDE, which screened last night before feature X/Y, and is screening again today at 3pm as part of Short Film Showcase 2.

The film draws reference from CS Lewis’ ’Surprised by Joy’, Andre Breton’s Surrealist revolution and Horace’s ’Epistles’, in which he says ’sapere aude,’ or in English, ’He who begins is half done. Dare to be wise. Make a beginning.

Take a moment to get to know these filmmaking dynamos, and head over to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center today at 3pm to catch the showcase, which is comprised of 10 stellar shorts. All poignant, beautiful, and powerful. 

Q: How did your film come to be? 

A: The inspiration for our film, SAPERE AUDE, came about after taking a few philosophy classes at Biola University and visiting France. There, we were inspired as artists to create an experimental short film that addresses subjects relating to human existence, nature and the universe. We combined this with surrealistic shots similar to those seen in early French Cinema. We wanted to highlight the connection between human beings and nature by capturing parts of Laguna, Ojai and Park City Utah. We both had the same vision so we collaborated. We wrote, directed, shot, edited and acted in this film as our graduation piece for film school.

Q: What was the most challenging thing about making this film?

A: Editing the film was the most challenging because we wanted the placement of the shots to match the monologue and the original composition perfectly. We wanted the audience to have a strong emotional connection to the message through the editing.

Q: What type of experience do you hope the film will bring to viewers?

A: We hope that viewers feel connected to something greater than themselves. We hope it leaves them with a feeling of peace and inspiration along with a curiosity towards the deeper meanings of life.

Q: What do you think our Maui audiences will appreciate about your film?

A: Because of the Maui audiences’ respect for nature and their appreciation for the environment’s natural beauty, this message about human connection can resonate with them.

Q: What is your connection to Maui?

Taylor Laughlin: I visited Maui with my parents, younger sister, my grandparents and my aunts and uncles when I was twelve. It was shortly after my grandmother had passed away. I was extremely close with my grandmother and her passing left me feeling confused and weighed down by sadness. When I was in Maui I felt those feelings lifting off of me, I felt like I got to be restored and recovered during my time on the Island. I will always consider that experience one of the most shaping and joyful times in my late childhood.

Rachel Palumbo: When I went to Maui with my family I was 15. It was the last vacation we went on as a family before my mom passed away. It was somewhere she had always wanted to go. While we were there we were able to forget about her sickness and just enjoy our time together on the island. I will never forget when she said “If I were to imagine heaven, I would imagine it would look something like this.” It is nice to know that she is in Paradise.


The Featured Filmmaker series is coordinated and written by the Maui Film Festival’s Filmmaker Liaison and Social Media Director Sara TekulaClick here to see all of the Featured FIlmmaker posts and be sure follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get live updates from the festival.