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By Laura Goodwin | Portrait photo by Keith Branch

Jules Taylor

Fayetteville Theater Artist Creates Her First Film With a Little Help From Friends

Jules Taylor, a Fayetteville theater artist and educator, embraced every available arts-focused extracurricular while growing up in small-town Llano, Texas. “But it wasn’t until high school in Plano that I was able to learn about acting and theater,” Jules said. Later, while in college in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she expanded her repertoire to include film work but always in front of the camera. To work behind the camera had been a longtime dream for her. Jules’ first short film, In a World Full of Loneliness, celebrates the universal power of connection, and it will be screened this month at the 2023 Fayetteville Film Festival. 

Jules pitched her idea to a panel of film-industry professionals at the 2022 Fayetteville Film Festival. They named Jules the festival’s Pitch Prize winner. It was a thrilling commendation, and she received cash as seed money. “I was so grateful for the recognition and the funding,” Jules said. “I realized that I would have to raise more than five times as much to make the film that I imagined.” 

The day after receiving the festival award, she went into full planning mode to make her project.

Jules had worked in front of the camera for decades, but never behind it. While living in Santa Fe in the ‘80s, Jules performed as an extra in the remake of And God Created Woman directed by Roger Vadim. Later, advised by a mentor, Jules looked to the Windy City for more acting opportunities. Soon she was living and auditioning in Chicago, working background once more in My Best Friend’s Wedding starring Julia Roberts. “I auditioned a lot,” Jules said. “I was looking for anything — commercials, TV, film.”

Chicago helped prepare Jules for her work as a teaching artist. While living there, she began studying at the Old Town School of Folk Music, an acclaimed Chicago teaching institution and performance venue that launched the careers of many notable folk musicians. At Old Town, Jules learned to use a developmental approach to teaching and performing music for young children. She worked in after-school programs in Chicago Public Schools, teaching dance and theater to high school students with special needs. 

Tired of the grind of big-city life, Jules was drawn to Fayetteville, which reminded her of the Texas Hill Country communities of her youth. Plus, Fayetteville was home to musicians she knew and loved. 

Now, after almost 20 years of teaching and performing in Northwest Arkansas, Jules has endeared herself to the community that helped her reach her film-making goal. 

When she launched an online campaign to meet the film’s budget, more than 200 people donated. Jules, overwhelmed by the generosity, felt that the embrace from her community mirrored what she wanted to capture in the film: “That sense of community that simply is Fayetteville,” Jules said.


Jules wanted to express her gratitude to donors in a fun way. “We’ve put a lot of Easter eggs in the film to surprise them,” she said. The team hid Easter eggs — about 30 in total, including a ball cap and a band poster — in nearly every scene as visual love notes to the film’s insiders. Jules also wanted local audiences to feel clued in to the production backstory. “So, we also included many visual hints that the film was shot and produced in Fayetteville,” she said. “Locals will definitely get it.”

By meeting her fundraising goal, Jules was able to pay both cast and crew. “Artists in the region sometimes work for free,” she said. “Because of donors, I was able to pay everyone something for their work and talent.” 

Assembling the crew and cast was deeply personal. “There are so many talented actors and film creatives in our area,” said Jules, who has worked with many during her two decades living and working in Northwest Arkansas. She chose not to hold auditions and instead assembled a team composed of actors and technicians she knew well. 

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The film’s cast consists of performers of all ages who share history with Jules either as an acting colleague or acting student. Jules signed on two of Fayetteville’s most notable performers immediately — actors Mike Thomas and Mark Landon Smith. “I knew that Mike and Mark have the depth of kindness and sincerity necessary for the roles they play in our film,” she said. The two actors are also known for their comedy, both as playwrights and actors. Along with Jules, they are members of Phunbags Comedy Improv, Fayetteville’s irreverent sketch comedy and improvisation troupe. 


Jules Taylor playing a small role in Mindcage, a feature film shot in Fayetteville in 2021

“Jules will create a song out of any occasion,” Thomas said. “She really brings the fun.” 

Thomas was impressed by the atmosphere on set. “It was a great experience,” he said. “Film sets can be stressful places, but Jules is a generous leader. She has strong ideas about the effect she wants out of a scene but is also open to feedback. She brought together a team of exceptional collaborators.”

When casting four child actors, Jules turned to the after-school programs she teaches. “It was really helpful to already know the young people and to know them as actors,” Jules said. 

Two of the young actors she knew from her work at Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers. She knew the other pair from her work at Fayetteville’s Arts Live Theatre. The film’s lead editor, now a young adult and a recent college graduate, is also an Arts Live Theatre alum.

“Making this film was a beautiful, organic, home team effort, and I hope everyone involved will feel as proud as I do,” Jules said. “I couldn’t have done this film without the support of so many.” 

The film’s producer, Dan Robinson, executive director of Fayetteville Public Television, created an original soundtrack for the film and provided Jules guidance throughout the process.

Jules’ team shot the film over a five-day period this summer. “And what’s so amazing is that, here in Fayetteville, we have so many free ways to learn about filmmaking,” she said. “As director and screenwriter, I was simply an equal part of the team that included the cast, the technicians, Rock Hill Studios, Fayetteville Film Festival, Fayetteville Public Television and the Center of Innovation at Fayetteville Public Library.” 

Jules’ short film, In a World Full of Loneliness, will screen at the 2023 Fayetteville Film Festival. Learn more at


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