Taking Control Of Your Filmmaking & Writing Career: An Interview with Jamie Miller

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Today’s interview is all about LA writer, filmmaker, and actress Jamie Miller. 

Jamie has written, produced, and acted in films like Leap, and she has also created and acted in Club Rat$. Her filmography? It would take an entire post to name every movie she has been in.

If you want to get to know Jamie better, her Instagram (@jamiethemiller) is where she posts most of her work, as well as her inspirational personal life. Now, let’s talk to Jamie about her recent projects, her view on well-written scripts, and much more when it comes to taking control of your filmmaking journey!

Hi, Jamie! It’s a pleasure to have you. 

So, you’re originally from New York, but currently live in LA. Did this move inspire you to become the artist you are today? Would you say it’s essential that aspiring filmmakers/screenwriters/producers move to LA to start their careers, or can they achieve the same success level from anywhere in the world?

Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been a fan of Into The Script for a while now so I’m excited for this.

The New York - Los Angeles dichotomy has always puzzled me because both cities are very special to me. The short answer is yes, but I loved every minute of my time living in New York City. 

Much like LA, you are constantly surrounded by the latest and greatest in the art world, which gave me a lot of inspiration for acting and writing. My years in New York City made a huge impact on my work as an artist because of how hard I had to work and how rewarding it was. 

I spent years working 3+ jobs to pay my bills. I definitely draw from that part of my life when I’m creating characters and stories. My move to Los Angeles was a natural progression as my career focus shifted. 

I originally moved to New York City because I was most interested in Theatre, but as my focus shifted towards Film & Television I started to find more job opportunities on the west coast. Los Angeles has been where I’ve learned the majority of my filmmaking knowledge. There’s always an opportunity to be on set. 

A big city can open a lot of doors just based on the amount of work always happening but I think at the heart of any good project is the story, which can be told from anywhere in the world.

I encourage people to start creating from wherever they are.

You have written/produced and acted in Leap, for which you won Breakout Performance at FirstGlance Film Festival in 2017 and aired in several other festivals like Chelsea Film Festival and NewFilmmakersNY. 

First of all, congrats on that! Secondly, what can you tell us about the importance of attending/submitting your work (whether it’s a script, a short, or a feature) to film festivals?

Thank you! Leap was a huge moment in my career because it was my first short screenplay that I wrote solo and having it received well was a huge affirmation that I was on the right track. It was also my first time going into film festivals with a producer role. 

My partner Tyler Ham Pong and I put a lot of effort into submitting for festivals that best suited our projects messaging and our location. 

I loved going to festivals right away because of the feeling of community that it fosters. It’s rare that we get to watch indie films and emerging talent on the big screen. I love going into a screening full of short films and you’re able to see these amazing films that I maybe would never known about otherwise. 

A lot of the festivals have awards and prizes, which has opened up some huge opportunities for me. It’s definitely been an important way for me to meet people and showcase my work.

A lot of our readers are also screenwriters who would certainly love to explore other areas of filmmaking. How did being a writer, filmmaker, and actor work for you? Was it a smooth transition between crafts—one thing led to another—or did you have to get out there and try your hand on new things? 

My transition from actor to writer happened naturally. 

The more I worked as an actor, the more I wanted to be part of the entire filmmaking process. Part of that was because I thought the industry needed more honest representation of all types of people, which starts in the writer’s room. I started writing by jumping into collaborations on comedy sketches that we’d film guerilla style around New York City. 

I learned a lot from that process and from the people I was creating with. I could feel it when I was ready for the responsibility to write and produce my own screenplays. It was exhilarating to make “Leap” because like I said in a previous answer, it was my first time writing solo. 

It was really gratifying to see the vision come to life. I did not direct “Leap”, that was the incredible Marlo Bernier. There’s something important to me about being in my actor brain while I’m on set. 

While we’re filming I prefer to have the character be all that matters in that moment, so I make sure to surround myself with talented people who I trust. 

That way I can switch out of my producer brain and act. Very quickly producing and editing became one of my favorite parts of making a movie. 

So many huge decisions are made in the editing room and having creative input during that process is very important to me. 

Your filmography is impressive. I can’t even write all the movies you’ve been a part of, but some of them include Hacker (2018), Turbulence (2016), and Club Rat$ (2018) which you’ve also co-written with Danene Montella. 

As an actor and a writer, how can you tell when a character is well-written? 

I feel fortunate to be part of those incredible projects. Interesting and well-written characters is something that I value very much in a script. 

As an actor, good writing makes the characters feel real and it inspires me to make bold choices. As a writer, we’re here to entertain, affect, and give people an escape from their lives, so I try to make the characters and story as interesting as possible, with layers and twists. 

I usually gauge whether a project is right for me by whether it makes me excited to get involved. Good writing can be such a subjective thing, but when I write I try to treat the audience as being just as smart, if not smarter, than I am and I try and never dumb down a character or story. 

I want people to say, “I’ve never seen that before” or, “I’ve never thought about that before.” Because part of filmmaking is opening up different perspectives.

Another thing I’ve noticed (and something that I try to discuss as much as possible in interviews) is your online presence. 

I’ve found you through Instagram and immediately fell in love with your feed because it’s the place where you post about work, personal life, and everything else in a bubbly manner. 

How has social media has helped you career-wise? Would you recommend other filmmakers to be more active online?

Thank you, I appreciate that! I try not to overthink social media but instead use it as another way to share what I do with the world. 

We’re all looking for a way to connect with one another at the end of the day. Whatever I’m working on at the time, or whatever is important to me in that moment, I’ll share. And sometimes that’s just a picture of my dog or a pretty sunset. 

But in all seriousness, I’ve made some of the coolest connections through my social media. I hope that by putting myself out there, I’ll open up to even more opportunities and so far that has been true. I attribute a lot my projects film festival success to social media too. We made sure on both Leap and CLUB RAT$ to be very active during submissions because it’s such an easy way to market the film. 

It’s basically free advertising and you have full control over how you are being branded. The same goes for my personal page. 

When I think of social media as something that gives me the power to share myself and projects how I see fit that makes it more exciting for me. 

I definitely recommend that filmmakers try social media and don’t be afraid to reach out to other creative people. 

You never know who might want to collaborate or hire you.

Laila Resende is a 20-year-old freelance copywriter and a Feature Writer and Social Media Assistant at Into The Script. Her insatiable passion for movies and blogging is perfect for her role as Feature Writer & Social Media Assistant at Into The Script. 

Laila shares all of Into The Script's news on her Instagram page (@lailarsnde) and Facebook.

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