April 29, 2012
Our favourite and inspirational teacher of editing, Alan Miller, who teaches dedicated workshops as part of our MA Visual Anthropology programme is also a director and producer. We were really proud to hear that his debut feature, Kelling Brae, won the Best No Budget Feature at the London Independent Film Festival 2012.
In his words:
It all started, as most filmmakers’ influences so often do, in the dark.
I was the textbook blank page and it took Lampwick’s transformation into a donkey (Pinocchio), mankind’s transformation into the Star Child (2001 A Space Odyssey) and my stunned disbelief (the Mothership from Close Encounters) to propel me into a career in film.
I trained as an editor at the BBC in Cardiff, South Wales and took menial jobs on any features I could land being employed on two by Rick McCallum (Star Wars fans, vent elsewhere).
After coming runner up in The Lloyds National Screenwriting Competition in the late 80s, I decamped to London and was astounded at how many producers failed to smash my door down begging me to make their sagging second act work.
Speaking of work, I suddenly realised that rumbling stomachs don’t un-rumble themselves without sustenance so I walked into the first production company I could find and started doing what I’d been trained to do. At Partridge Films I learned how to tell stories, worked on some award winning wildlife films and figured out that working with people with real fire in their bellies was something I grew to love. You don’t get rich making wildlife films.
While editing a BBC Natural World, I got a chance to direct a documentary back at the BBC based on the fans of the greatest TV show ever made™, The Prisoner (1967). Despite the lure of the animal world into which I was immersing myself, I was anxious to break out into drama.
Back at Partridge, I learned to write and was eventually entrusted with directing, writing and producing a four part series on those who work in the Serengeti National Park. I was offered the first Steve Irwin show to direct (I turned it down out of a concern about where the genre was heading – Clue? Celebrity). I started work in Holland editing features. I directed, wrote and cut numerous documentaries for a Dutch company and managed to squeeze out a few screenplays (one of which got a commendation from an American competition).
And then it hit me – just before the HD revolution, damn it. The time was right to make a feature. After an extraordinary number of technical snags, screw-ups and hard drive crashes, it seemed as if its post-production would never bear fruit. One-person film-making is tough particularly if you have to keep working (and teaching) but there were no topical considerations in my little drama about two sisters-in-law fighting over their dead husband/brother. So softly, softly…
With the help of many talented friends, it’s made it out of post-production hell and into a dazzling new spotlight of sorts. So here we are… ‘