When Noah and Logan Miller showed up at the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival with the world premiere of Touching Home, the unheralded Marin County twins garnered Rookie of the Year kudos for their family baseball drama. But their unbelievable, against-all-odds road to a finished movie also raised the question of whether they would turn out to be one-hit wonders. With HarperCollins’ late-April release of their lauded memoir and a clutch of completed original screenplays, the Millers are determined to avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx.
Touching Home isn’t slated to reach theaters until next year, but it plays a monster venue this Saturday night: The mammoth HD scoreboard at AT&T Park, home of the Giants. The film is the centerpiece of Bookstock 2009, a family outing on the outfield grass with live bands, an art show, the film and a launch party/book-signing for Either You’re in or You’re in the Way: Two Brothers, Twelve Months, and One Filmmaking Hell-Ride to Keep a Promise to Their Father.
"We had no intention of writing a book," Noah Miller recounts in a phone conversation this week. "Once we were in postproduction, we’d run into people in the street. ‘How did this all come about?’ And we’d start telling our story. Almost to a person they were amazed and would say, ‘That’s your next movie.’ Or, ‘You need to write a book.’"
Early risers, the brothers would start their day with several hours of writing together before editor Robert Dalva would show up at their Fairfax home to cut Touching Home. Are the Millers modern-day Renaissance men, or incredible overachievers? Just regular guys, it turns out, albeit with a lot more drive than the average Joe.
"We sat down and puked out our story," Miller says, with characteristic self-deprecation. "We wanted to write an adventure story, a memoir about two guys trying to achieve something almost beyond their reach the same year their father died. We wanted to write this for the average reader, like Into Thin Air or The Perfect Storm. Most of the people who read those books probably aren’t fishermen or mountain climbers."
Likewise, those drawn to Either You’re in or You’re in the Way won’t necessarily be seeking advice on how to make their debut narrative feature with a heavyweight like Ed Harris in a key role. Of course, the book (acclaimed as funny, touching and inspiring) does recount their relentless efforts to make an independent movie, from the corridors of Hollywood to the backwoods of Marin. It also details Logan and Noah’s complicated relationship with their homeless, alcoholic father, who died in jail.
These days, it seems you have to be famous to get a book deal, with name-recognition ideally from TV or movies. The Miller brothers aim to reverse the flow, parlaying the Either You’re in or You’re in the Way publicity into early buzz for Touching Home.
"We’re talking to some [film] distributors right now but I don’t see it happening until February or March of 2010," Noah Miller confides. "We’re going to be doing the book tour for at least three and a half, four months. Then we’ll come back around and hit them with the movie. I think what screws everybody up is technically we finished the movie first. But it got us thinking—why rush the movie out before the book when you’ve got someone promoting the movie by promoting the book?"
The Millers have written 11 more screenplays, believe it or not, that they want to get into the hands of producers, studio execs and financiers. They’re eager to relinquish the producing and acting duties they handled on Touching Home, while hanging onto the writing and directing hats. "Trying to do all four at the same time, especially right out of the gate, is a pretty big undertaking," Noah Miller says with a wry chuckle.
Bookstock 2009 runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 6 at AT&T Park. Touching Home screens at 8:30 p.m. with the Miller brothers scheduled to attend. Admission is free for adults with the purchase of the book at one of the links at http://inorintheway.com/ ($15 otherwise) and free for children under 12. Proceeds benefit the Giants Community Fund.
Notes from the Underground
An unusual number of Bay Area films will receive national exposure in the coming weeks. Johnny Symons’ Ask Not airs June 16 at 10 p.m. on KQED as part of PBS’ Independent Lens doc series. … Andy Abrahams Wilson’s Under Our Skin begins its theatrical run June 19 at the IFC Center in New York and June 26 at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Los Angeles and the Avalon in Washington, D.C. … Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s New Muslim Cool airs June 23 at 10 p.m. on KQED as the P.O.V. season-opener. Gemma Cubero and Celeste Carrasco’s Ella es el matador (She Is the Matador), profiled Nov. 12, 2008, in this column, airs Sept. 1 in the PBS series. … Conscious Youth Media Crew’s local feature, A Choice of Weapons, plays the Los Angeles Film Festival June 28. … Eric Kutner and Adam Goldstein’s local comic feature The Snake, featuring Margaret Cho in a cameo, premieres in the Frozen Film Festival July 8-12.
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