George Miller (director)

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Not to be confused with George T. Miller.
George Miller
George Miller Cannes 2015.jpg
Born (1945-03-03) 3 March 1945 (age 70)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Nationality Australian
Other names Dr. George Miller
Education Sydney Boys High School
Alma mater University of New South Wales
Occupation Film director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active 1970–present
Known for Mad Max, Happy Feet, Babe

Dr. George Miller AO (born 3 March 1945) is an Australian film director, screenwriter, producer, and former medical doctor. He is best known for his Mad Max franchise, with The Road Warrior and Fury Road being hailed as two of the greatest action films of all time. Aside from the Mad Max films, Miller has been involved in a wide range of projects. These include the Academy Award-winning Babe and the animated-musical Happy Feet film series.

Miller is co-founder of the production houses Kennedy Miller Mitchell, formerly known as Kennedy Miller, and Dr. D Studios. His younger brother Bill Miller and Doug Mitchell have been producers on almost all the films in Miller's later career, since the death of his original producing partner Byron Kennedy.

In 2006, Miller won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for Happy Feet. He has been nominated for three other Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay in 1992 for Lorenzo's Oil, and Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay in 1995 for Babe.

Early life[edit]

Miller was born in Brisbane, Queensland, to Greek immigrant parents: Dimitri (Jim) Castrisios Miller and Angela Balson. Dimitri was from the Greek island of Kythira, and anglicised his surname from Miliotis to Miller when he emigrated to Australia; the Balson family were Greek refugees from Anatolia.[1] The couple married and settled in Chinchilla and had four sons: fraternal twins George and John, Chris, and Bill.

George attended Ipswich Grammar School and later Sydney Boys High School,[1] then studied medicine at the University of New South Wales with his twin brother John. While in his final year at medical school (1971), George and his younger brother Chris made a one-minute short film that won them first prize in a student competition.[2] In 1971, George attended a Film Workshop at Melbourne University where he met fellow student, Byron Kennedy, with whom he formed a lasting friendship and production partnership, until Kennedy's death in a helicopter crash in 1983. In 1972, Miller completed his residency at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, spending his time-off crewing on short experimental films. That same year, Miller and Kennedy founded Kennedy Miller Productions.[3] The pair subsequently collaborated on numerous works. After Kennedy died in 1983, Miller kept his name in the company. It was later renamed Kennedy Miller Mitchell in 2009 as a way to recognize producer Doug Mitchell's role in the company.[4]

Career[edit]

Miller at a Happy Feet Two event in 2011.

In 1979, Miller made his feature-length directorial debut with Mad Max. Based on a script written by Miller and James McCausland in 1975, the film was independently financed by Kennedy Miller Productions and went on to become an international success.[3] As a result, the film spawned the Mad Max series with two further sequels starring Mel Gibson; Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).

During the time between the second and third Mad Max films, Miller directed a remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" as a segment for the 1983 anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie.[5] He also co-produced and co-directed many acclaimed miniseries for Australian television including The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984).

In 1987, Miller directed The Witches of Eastwick, starring Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film proved to be a troubling experience for Miller. "I quit the film twice and Jack [Nicholson] held me in there," said Miller. "He said just sit down, lose your emotion, and have a look at the work. If you think the work is good, stick with the film, and he was a great man. I learnt more from him than anybody else I think I’d worked for – he was extraordinary."[6]

Following The Witches of Eastwick, Miller focused primarily on producing Australian projects.[7] His role as producer of Flirting, Dead Calm and the TV mini-series Bangkok Hilton and Vietnam, all starring Nicole Kidman, was instrumental in the development of her career.

Miller returned to directing with the 1992 release of Lorenzo's Oil, which he co-wrote with Nick Enright.[8]

In 1993, Miller was hired to direct Contact based on the story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan.[9] After working on the film for over a year, Warner Bros. and Miller mutually agreed to part ways and Robert Zemeckis was eventually brought on to direct.[10]

Miller also co-wrote the 1995 comedy-drama Babe and wrote and directed its 1998 sequel, Babe: Pig in the City.[11]

"Ask Dr. George Miller today and he'll say that all of his movies are one and the same, whether they focus on human society or the animal kingdom, and whether they unfold against the sands of the Australian outback, the suburbs of Washington, D.C., or the ice shelves of the Antarctic. "I honestly see no difference between the essential elemental story of, let's say, The Road Warrior, Lorenzo's Oil and Babe," Miller told me earlier this month during a visit to L.A. to promote his latest film, the animated musical Happy Feet."

LA Weekly (2006)[12]

Miller was also the creator of Happy Feet, a musical epic about the life of penguins in Antarctica.[13] The Warner Bros. produced film was released in November 2006. As well as being a runaway box office success, Happy Feet has also brought Miller his third Academy Award nomination, and his first win in the category of Best Animated Feature.

In 2007, Miller signed on to direct a Justice League film titled Justice League: Mortal.[14] While production was initially held up due to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike,[15] further production delays and the success of The Dark Knight led to Warner Bros. deciding to put the film on hold and pursue different options.[16]

In 2011, the Happy Feet sequel Happy Feet Two was released.[17] The following year, Miller began principal photography on Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth film in the Mad Max series, after several years of production delays.[18] Fury Road was released on 15 May, 2015.[19]

It's rumored that Miller will direct a sequel to Man of Steel.[20]

Dr. D Studios[edit]

Dr. D Studios was a Sydney-based digital animation studio founded in mid-2007 as a partnership between Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Omnilab Media.[21] Following the financially unsuccessful release of Happy Feet Two and the long delay of Mad Max: Fury Road, the studio closed down in 2013.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

Miller was married to actress Sandy Gore; they have a daughter Augusta. He married film editor Margaret Sixel in 1995; they have two sons.[23] The two initially met during the production of Flirting,[dubious ] and Sixel has since worked on all of Miller's directorial efforts in some capacity.[24]

Miller is the Patron of the Australian Film Institute and the BIFF (Brisbane International Film Festival) and a co-patron of the Sydney Film Festival. He has said on multiple occasions that Pinocchio is one of his favorite movies.[25][26][27]

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer Other
1979 Mad Max Yes Yes
1980 The Chain Reaction Yes Yes Director of car chase sequences (uncredited)
1981 Mad Max 2 Yes Yes Yes Additional editor
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie Yes Segment Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
1983 The Dismissal Yes Yes Yes TV miniseries
1984 The Last Bastion Yes TV miniseries
1984 Bodyline Yes Yes
1985 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Yes Yes Yes Co-directed with George Ogilvie
1987 The Witches of Eastwick Yes
1987 The Year My Voice Broke Yes
1989 Dead Calm Yes Yes 2nd unit director
1989 Bangkok Hilton Yes TV miniseries
1991 Flirting Yes
1992 Lorenzo's Oil Yes Yes Yes
1995 Babe Yes Yes
1996 Video Fool for Love Yes
1997 40,000 Years of Dreaming Yes Yes Yes Documentary; Presenter
1998 Babe: Pig in the City Yes Yes Yes
2006 Happy Feet Yes Yes Yes
2011 Happy Feet Two Yes Yes Yes
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road Yes Yes Yes
TBA Mad Max: The Wasteland Yes Yes

Awards and recognition[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b "George Miller". Kythera-Family.net. 22 May 2004. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b UNSWorld (2007) p. 15
  3. ^ a b Moran, Albert; Vieth, Errol (21 July 2009). The A to Z of Australian and New Zealand Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 174. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "George Miller's New Script". The Australian Financial Review. Fairfax Media. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (24 June 1983). "'Twilight Zone' is Adapted to the Big Screen". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Denton, Andrew (20 October 2008). "Enough Rope with Andre Denton - Episode 190: George Miller". Enough Rope. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Dutka, Elaine (30 December 1992). "INTERVIEW : The Spark That Gives 'Oil' Its Heat : Movies: Director George Miller follows his passion and gambles on a long-shot--a medical mystery story.". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Pender, Anne; Lever, Susan (30 September 2008). Nick Enright: An Actor's Playwright. Amsterdam: Rodopi. p. 23. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Head, Tom (5 January 2006). Conversations with Carl Sagan. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. p. 89. 
  10. ^ Chitwood, Adam (8 May 2015). "George Miller Talks His Version of CONTACT; Likens It to INTERSTELLAR". Collider.com. Complex. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Cox, Dan (12 November 1997). "U turns production corne". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Foundas, Scott (23 November 2006). "International Man of Myths". LA Weekly. 
  13. ^ "The penguin suite". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 December 2006. 
  14. ^ Garrett, Diane (20 September 2007). "George Miller to lead ‘Justice League’". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  15. ^ Michaela, Boland (17 January 2008). "Australia denies killing ‘Justice League’". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  16. ^ Graser, Marc (15 August 2008). "WB taps into ties at DC Comics". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  17. ^ Vlessing, Etan (14 November 2011). "'Happy Feet Two' to Dance Onto 377 Imax Screens". The Hollywood Reporter. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Moore, Ben (22 May 2012). "Tom Hardy Uncertain About ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Start Date [UPDATED]". Screen Rant. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Set For Summer 2015". Deadline.com. Penske Media Corporation. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  20. ^ http://comicbook.com/2015/08/21/george-miller-reportedly-directing-man-of-steel-2/
  21. ^ a b Quinn, Karl (May 31, 2013). "Happy feet no longer tapping as animation studio sells up". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 21, 2014. 
  22. ^ Swift, Brendan (24 November 2011). "Dr D Studios future clouded after staff departures, restructure". If Magazine. The Intermedia Group. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  23. ^ Turner, Brook (May 2007). "Curious George". The Australian Financial Review: 26–38. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "Feet With Legs". Urban Cinefile. 26 December 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Brand, Madeleine; Pesca, Mike (8 December 2006). "Do Kids' Movies Need More Quality Control?". NPR. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  26. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (16 November 2011). "George Miller Says He Approached 'Happy Feet 2' With The Same Respect As Classic Fairy Tales". Indiewire. SnagFilms. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  27. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (19 November 2011). "Happy Feet Two Director George Miller Talks About Getting The Cast Together". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  28. ^ It's an Honour
  29. ^ Gadd, Michael (17 April 2007). "George Miller gets Masters". AAP. 
  30. ^ "2007 Winners". http://www.afi.org.au/ Australian Film Insititute. Retrieved 14 July 2008. 
  31. ^ Braithwaite, Alyssa. "Director George Miller to be awarded Ordre des Arts et des Lettres at Sydney's French Film Festival". Telegraph. 
  32. ^ "Miller receives VES award – Inside Film: Film and Television Industry News and Issues for Australian Content Creators". If.com.au. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
Further reading

External links[edit]