Randall Miller

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Randall Miller is an American film director. His better-known films include Houseguest, Bottle Shock, Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, Nobel Son, Class Act, CBGB, Savannah and The Sixth Man.

Early life and education[edit]

Miller grew up in Pasadena, California. His mother, Leona Miller, was an internist and professor at USC County Medical Center and President of the Diabetes Association.[1] His father, Alexander Miller, was a Professor at UCLA in Microbiology after completing his graduate studies at Cal Tech in Pasadena.

Miller attended UC Davis where he studied biochemistry inspired by his own parents' careers in medicine.[2][3][4]

At UC Davis, Randall played soccer competitively. A bad back and a ruptured tendon while actively playing ensured that a career in the sport was shortlived. While at UC Davis, he began auditioning for theater productions and by the age of 19 had joined the Screen Actors Guild. Simultaneously, he enrolled at Beverly Hills Playhouse to study acting. He transferred to UCLA to be able to better manage his coursework alongside acting school. He eventually started writing plays and one-acts and Bob Zemeckis accidentally stumbled upon a play written by him called 'Frigidaire'. Impressed by it, Zemeckis encouraged Miller to finish his studies at USC School of Cinematic Arts and offered to write the latter a recommendation letter. The letter got Miller accepted and he enrolled for film & directing at USC School of Cinematic Arts.[5]


In 1993, Miller was nominated for CableACE Awards for his writing and direction of a short children's musical entitled Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School[6] (later remade as a feature film with the same title).[7] In 2000, he was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Children's Programs for the Wonderful World of Disney episode "H-E Double Hockey Sticks".[8][9] He then directed a number of independent films, including his self-distributed 2008 film Bottle Shock which premiered at the Sundance Film festival in 2008.[10] His previous film Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005; Nobel Son premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007[11] and CBGB in 2013.[12][13]

Class Act, released in 1992, is a modern-day comedic take on The Prince & the Pauper, about a pair of teenagers with switched identities.[14][15][16]

In 1995, Miller helmed Houseguest, another movie about mistaken identities. The Los Angeles Times said of it, "Houseguest, a rowdy fish-out-of-water comedy, is as good-natured as its big, beefy star, comedian Sinbad." The film debuted at No.3 and went on to gross $26 million in North America, making it a modest commercial success considering its 10.5 million budget.[17]

In 2005, Miller wrote and directed Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, a full-length feature of his 1990 short film of the same name.[18][19][20] Nobel Son was written and directed by Miller, and was a 2007 American black comedy release about a dysfunctional family dealing with the kidnapping of their son for ransom following the father's winning of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. It featured Alan Rickman in the leading role.[21]

Alan Rickman returned in a leading role for Miller's movie Bottle Shock in 2008, a dramedy about a 1976 wine competition where a California wine defeated a French wine in a blind taste test. Miller and wife, Jody, were introduced to Marc and Brenda Lhormer, the founders of the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, in 2006 at the opening night of Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School. In 2008, the founder couple presented the screenplay of a story involving the 'Judgement of Paris' to Miller and his wife. This story interested Miller and Jody and they took the story on board. They ended up writing, directing and producing Bottle Shock.[22][23]

Rickman returned for the third time to play Hilly Kristal in CBGB,[24] a 2013 historical film about the former New York music venue of the same name. Miller wrote the screenplay, produced and directed the film revolving around the life of Kristal, musician and owner of the CBGB club.[25]

Production of Midnight Rider[edit]

In 2014, during production of Miller's film Midnight Rider, camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed during the filming of a scene.[26] A police investigation concluded that Miller and crew were trespassing on an operating railway line and that the train was unscheduled.[27] Miller ultimately took a plea deal, pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and serving a year in prison.[28][29] Miller is the first director to receive a prison sentence due to the death of a cast or crew member.[30] Under the terms of the probation, he also agreed not to serve as director, assistant director or supervisor in charge of safety on any film production for 10 years.[citation needed]

In July 2017, Sarah Jones' family were awarded $11.2 million in civil damages. "The jury found that CSX (the train's operator) was primarily liable for the accident and should pay 35% of the total judgment. Miller was found responsible for 28% of the amount of the latest ruling. Rayonier Performance Fibers, owners of the land where the accident occurred, are responsible for 18% and the rest of the liability is divided between individual members of the film's production company."[31]



  1. ^ "Dr. Leona Vivien Crook Miller's Obituary on Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "WEDDINGS; Jody Savin and Randall Miller". The New York Times. March 14, 1999. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  3. ^ "Bottle Shock Randall Miller". exclaim.ca. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  4. ^ Scott, A. O. (August 5, 2008). "Plaid Suits, Prize Grapes and the Rise of Napa". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Versatility of Randall Miller". article.wn.com. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  6. ^ Jennifer Pendleton, "Rivals for CableAces not even close to HBO", Variety, November 17, 1992.
  7. ^ Dennis Harvey, "Review: ‘Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School’", Variety, January 6, 2005.
  8. ^ Dave McNary, "DGA names noms for day, kids", Variety, February 16, 2000.
  9. ^ Jerry Roberts, Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors (Scarecrow Press, 2009), ISBN 978-0810863781, p. 394. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  10. ^ Anderson, John (July 30, 2008). "No Film Distributor? Then D.I.Y." www.nytimes.com. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  11. ^ Dargis, Manohla. "Kidnapping, Suicide and Other Family Matters". New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  12. ^ Foundas, Scott. "CBGB review: New York club gets the biopic it didn't deserve". Variety. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  13. ^ DeYoung, Bill. "CBGB: A conversation with filmmaker Randall Miller". Connect Savannah. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  14. ^ "No Recess For Excelling In High Jinks". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Siskel & Ebert (June 6, 1992). "Class Act". TV.com. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  16. ^ Peter Travers (June 5, 1992). "Class Act". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  17. ^ WELKOS, ROBERT W. (January 10, 1995). "Weekend Box Office : 'Dumb and Dumber' Has Last Laugh". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  18. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (March 31, 2006). "A New Life Awaits at 'Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  19. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (August 24, 2006). "Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School". the Guardian. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  20. ^ Harvey, Dennis (January 26, 2005). "Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School". Variety. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  21. ^ Dargis, Manohla (December 4, 2008). "Alan Rickman Stars as a Prize-Winning Heel". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  22. ^ "CASE STUDY: BOTTLE SHOCK - Film Independent". Film Independent. January 18, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  23. ^ Brooks, Xan (March 20, 2009). "Film review: Bottle Shock". the Guardian. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  24. ^ Foundas, Scott (October 15, 2013). "Film Review: 'CBGB'". Variety. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  25. ^ Scott, A. O. (October 10, 2013). "'CBGB' Recalls That Closed New York Nightclub and Its Owner". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  26. ^ Robb, David. "Hollywood Production Safety Exec: "We're In A Post-Sarah Jones World"". Deadline. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  27. ^ Ruggieri, Melissa. "Gregg Allman film director gets early release from Georgia jail". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  28. ^ Johnson, Ted (March 9, 2015). "'Midnight Rider' Trial: Executive Producer Jay Sedrish Won't Serve Jail Time". Variety. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  29. ^ Busch, Anita; Leon, Patty. "'Midnight Rider' Director Randall Miller Freed From Jail In Shock Ruling – Update". Deadline. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  30. ^ Robb, David; Busch, Anita (March 9, 2015). "'Midnight Rider' Director Randall Miller's Prison Sentence Marks Historic First". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  31. ^ Varian, Ethan. "Parents of 27-year-old woman killed while filming movie win $11.2-million judgment". latimes.com. Retrieved February 14, 2018.

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