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Third Chapter Curious, Vol. 3: Traverse City, Michigan

Updated: Apr 25

“So, surely with hardship comes ease.” Quran, Surah Ash-Sharh 94:5




April 24, 2024


The artist’s purpose is to tell the truth as they see it; their medium is a vehicle for social commentary. When art becomes life itself, it shapes your relationship with existence as you gradually realize “how strange it is to be anything at all.” (In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Matt Pond PA).

Tuklor, or “T” as his moniker, is a true Renaissance man with an unbreakable spirit and protean ability, giving him a distinct artistic lens.

He is a poet, writer, producer, musician, and filmmaker, the latter of which is arguably his key focus. Specializing in documentary films, he has created the projects “15 Minutes,” and “The Human Experience,” and is currently working on a piece called “The Pines,” aimed at thoughtfully showing what life is like for our unhoused neighbors here in Traverse City.

Our local and global communities urgently need filmmakers and writers like Tuklor, who ensure their subject matter is accurately represented while practicing compassionate solidarity. 

Independent filmmakers like him are uniquely poised to capture stories as they are meant to be told, in spaces where purpose can thrive and forge real change. 


When did you start making art and how did that lead to your work in the film industry? What drives you to create? 


[sic.] “My breakthrough into the film industry and being a creative person in general came naturally. I just needed it. I needed an escape route, so I started writing, and I always loved to read as well which opened my mind up to new ideas. [When I started] writing it was just for me as my outlet, but after some time it began to open doors for me, and things thankfully worked out in my favor. I stuck with it, and writing turned to rhyming and created my style. I love to write letters— I used to write my homeboys all the time, and in a way, that’s how I got into the film industry. 

Long story short, one of my friends and I were talking after I sent him a letter and he said, “You know every time I read one of your letters it's like I'm watching a movie.” That got me thinking I could do this for real.” 

I pondered that for a while after we got off the phone. I noticed that when I wrote those letters there would be what seemed like 900 copies written before I sent [the final one], after scratching out lines that didn’t work and changing words to make it flow better. 

After some time I thought, ‘I'm going to write a script, and it's going to be something big.’ Sure enough, the very first script I wrote won some awards and is currently licensed for distribution.”


Looking at some of your film work, the piece that caught my eye was “The Pines.” Can you speak about your process and development of the film and how that correlates to your mission in Traverse City?


[sic.] “After a meeting at the Great Lakes Incubator Farm program in Traverse City, I noticed there was an abundance of food—if I have food left over I'm going to give it to someone, so I'm looking at it thinking, “Man, if I was back home in Flint, I’d be taking what’s left and finding someone who needs it.” One of the people there told me about the Pines and I shot directly over there and gave a guy a sandwich, then he directed me to another person, I gave him one, and he said, “You need to meet Drew.” Drew is basically the President there, and we’re pretty much cousins now because we established a great relationship. He gave me a lot of information, a lot of history, and I just enjoyed kicking it with him so much. I asked him if I could record some footage around [the Pines], and not only did he not mind, but he was really into it. He told me that National Geographic had been out there before, and a few other people would come out for a day and help out or take photos, give out food, and try to help. 

The next time I went out there he said to me, “You know, you’re the only person that came back.” I don't think it's literal, but most of the time people just come out for that photo-op, and that's that. I was trying to establish some relationships there, and [Drew] is a very intelligent guy who cares for his people, and he’s got some history behind him. I was blessed to be connected to them by that process.”


How do you think we can make helpful changes here to care for everyone, and how are you using your talents to do so? 

[sic.] “My intention is to be as truthful and as raw as possible with what I present to people who probably have no idea about those topics. I want to be an example and show others how to maneuver through some difficult subjects. More than likely, financially stable people have an issue with [talking about hard truths]. But the way I see it, that's a person who just has an issue period. I can't talk badly about them, because something is just wrong with them. Let me say it this way: if I were financially very well-off, I would be having meetings with other financially well-off people to figure out what piece of land we're going to buy, the homes we're going to start building for people, the programs and the start-ups we’re going to help finance, et cetera—basically what we're about to do with all this extra doggone money we have, because it wouldn't put a dent in our resources to buy three acres with five pole barns, and a cafeteria, learning center, and so on.

If there is financial abundance among people or even one person who can create a real difference, do that. It doesn't need to be a whole crew. If you're capable, but you have a problem with “them” being close to your condo, something is mentally wrong with you.

I'm just trying to be an example of what we should be doing, and I am not wealthy, but what I do have is a little bit of talent, and I try to use my talent for good.” 


After your time in Flint [Michigan], and metro Detroit what brought you to Traverse City, and what made you choose to lay down roots here? 


[sic.] “Periodically [my wife and I] would come up north for her shows, to Cadillac first, then Traverse City, and so on. We’d go to events like “Harvest Gathering,” and tended to be on the farm [property] even when nothing was going on, so we were familiar with Traverse City.

My buddy Chris from Higher Grounds and I were talking one day and he said, “Just come on up and be closer [to this place],” and it really felt like I was supposed to be there.

I had nothing planned up here, I didn't have a contract up here, nothing. Another friend of ours made it easy for us to move here and was letting us stay in places that we couldn't even afford at the time just so we could relax for a minute and clear our heads. Everything started clicking and we felt we belonged, and there's been nothing but good things happening since.

We found more opportunities here, from people who didn't even know us. I had a couple of good friends already in the area who connected me to others and then it just kept rolling. I've never been anywhere like this, and the network here is top-shelf. I mean they would reach out to their networks, and say, “You have to meet my buddy T.” It's been continuous, and I can’t complain.

[It’s important for me to be] around people who are successful who can look at me and say, “He's not playing on that level yet, but he’ll be on it if he had a little boost.” You can do bigger, better things when you are aligned with yourself. That's why I move the way I move, and it worked out, it’s been organic. The struggle is how I have stories to tell now.” 


What’s next for you and what are you prioritizing in this stage of your life? Can you share some parting advice and wisdom for others just starting out or looking to change up what they’re doing? 


[sic.] “I try to mentor those younger than I am, especially in my industry. I'm excited to be able to do something for people who really need it, and I have faith in people who are trying. To be there when they make it is my purpose—to leave a stamp that represents good outweighing bad, being the best example you can be even after crashing and burning and bumping my head several times. I’m a great model of: it doesn't matter what happened to you, it doesn't matter the choices you made if you’re able to make a better choice—you’re not dead yet so keep going, keep pushing. 

I am trying to leave a print that's [symbolic of]: surely with struggle comes ease, one of my favorite phrases is [from the Quran 94:5]“So, surely with hardship comes ease.” I share that with everyone because it represents life for real. You're going to have issues, you're going to make bad decisions, you're going to mess up really bad sometimes, and then you're probably going to mess up again and make some more bad decisions. But after comes the stories which turn into art and make a beautiful life. If you're still breathing, life is good.

I represent someone who struggled to correct their wrongs and helped others along the way. After my experiences, I'm a prime candidate to help others. I want my good to outweigh my bad when I take my last breath.

I’ll keep punching a clock in the 9-5 way to pay my bills which means I'll be able to concentrate on the artwork that heals people. I’ll grow my company and continue to help others right here in Traverse City. We’ll stay making moves. I’ll see that [my wife] Amber and I stay somewhere overseas because she really wants to, and I’ll be able to take care of those bills because I’ll be doing okay. I’m getting budgets now, and I’ll be continuously networking. There’s a lot of people trying to do good things here. The doors are always open. What I see here is success, and I don’t see leaving Traverse City any time soon. I’m establishing a firm footprint here in the film community, and want to be a major part of it. I want to be one of the first names that comes up if you're talking about film here. 

I hope this answers everything for you—when I start going I don’t always know where it will lead to, but I just let it flow.” 


That’s how the best thoughts find their way, my friend. 

©️Urbaneer Living Communities


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