L&Co talks with Storyteller Garfield Lindsay Miller

L&Co. Talks Garfield Lindsay Miller

L&Co. TALKs this week with talented storyteller Garfield Lindsay Miller. We met the California born filmmaker and writer at the Banff World Media Festival and were immediately drawn to Miller’s perfect blend of charm, wit and humble nature.

Storytelling is his currency. Garfield’s career journey is just as fascinating as the stories he creates from meeting the Dalai Lama, writing & directing a feature film selected as the Canadian Gala Screening at the Victoria Film Festival, a Gemini nomination and most recently working at the heart of the writers’ room for an upcoming cultish thriller TV series, Bitten.

L&Co: In a few words describe yourself? 

GLM: Someone who tells meaningful, uplifting stories. Ultimately, I’m not as interested in merely entertaining people as I am moving them and making them think. Of course, every story you tell must be entertaining. However, for me, what storytelling is really about is providing meaning to our lives. I read recently that “stories are the instruction manuals for life”. I love this idea. So yeah, that’s me. A guy who thinks a lot about life, and then finds compelling ways to put those ideas into narratives.

L&Co: What was the inspiration for your career route in directing/writing/producing? 

GLM: I’ve been interested in these activities for as long as I can remember. I wrote, produced and directed plays in high school, but at the time never considered it as something one could, you know, do for a living. 

There was a pivotal moment in my early 20s – I was living in a yoga community outside Santa Cruz. I already had a background in film and video production (from minoring in Film Studies at Wesleyan), but the industry seemed vapid…superficial and I was looking for something with more substance. Anyway, this yoga community had a high school and I was asked to join the students on a trip to Washington D.C. where they were going to interview civil servants, politicians and activists. The goal was to learn about their lives, how to live a life of meaning. 

In filming these interviews, I was moved by how so many of the people we met with were driven to make a difference, to work for what they believed in and had forged their own path in doing so. A lot of them were lawyers, and so for the next several months I thought that’s what I would do –  go to law school for civil liberties or environmental law. I was visiting law schools, studying for the LSATS and everything. But then, one day in the midst of all this I just realized that wasn’t the right thing for me. I wanted to tell stories. That was my path. That’s what I committed myself to.

Telling stories that would “make a difference.” Of course, I have since learned that that an extremely naive goal…and it’s taken me about a decade to understand how to tell an impactful, meaningful and (of course) entertaining story. But yes, that experience in D.C. was probably my biggest inspiration.

L&Co: What is the most memorable moment in your career? 

GLM: Another hard question – making The Last New Year http://www.thelastnewyear.com/ will always be something that I remember. Directing your first feature film is a harrowing and wonderful experience, and it’s extra special when you’ve written and produced it as well. I grew and learned a lot though that experience…about filmmaking of course, but also about life. A project like this becomes your child. It was literally the main focus of everyday for about two years of my life.

L&Co: If you weren’t in this career? what would you be doing? 

GLM: There’s about a million things I’d like to do. University professor. Psychologist, both my parents are psychologists. Organic Farmer. Rock Star. My mom thinks I should be an accountant.

L&Co: As a writer, do you have a certain system of writing? Do you wake up early, write to til the evenings? And how do you keep the creative thinking flowing? 

GLM: Right now I’m working long hours on a TV show so any free time I can find I put towards writing. When my schedule is more mine own I usually like to get up early and write. Maybe for four hours or so… But, I am not a creature of habit, so sometimes afternoons work better, or nights.

As for keeping the creativity flowing, I find that the more I create, the more creative I am…it’s like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. That being said, one also needs to live life, get out in the world. Engage with people. Finding that balance is key.

L&Co: What are you currently working on that excites you? 

GLM: I’m working on a TV show which is exciting, called Bitten and it’s for Shaw. It’s my first time working in TV writing room, which is a fun and challenging experience. And, of course I’ve got a number of personal projects that I’m excited about. One is called Bitter Pills — a feature film about a recently widowed doctor who begins convincing all his unhappy patients that they’re dying, in order to give them a new appreciation for life.

L&Co: Who is your icon in life? 

GLM: I have lots, but in terms of storytelling, Woody Allen is at the top of my list. He tells humorous and heart felt stories…the stories he wants to tell. He doesn’t care much about “the market” or awards. He just does his work and makes his films (many of which I count amongst my favorites). And he has been doing this year after year after year. It’s inspiriting.

L&Co: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

GLM: I’d like to be writing and producing TV shows (ideally my own) while writing and directing features on the side.

L&Co: What is the best advice you have ever received? 

GLM: It’s probably a combination of “do what you love” and “be true to yourself.” Cliché, I know, but still very true. It’s really about being fearless in chasing your dreams and stubborn in articulating your vision. People, many of whom are well meaning, will attempt to sway you. They will tell you it’s not possible or it is not how things are “supposed” to be done. Thank them for their concerns, but don’t listen to them.

L&Co: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be a writer/director? 

GLM: First off, be sure it’s something you really want to do. Not because you think it’s glamorous or fun, but because you love the work and you have something to say. There are no overnight successes… well, maybe one or two every year, but that’s out of tens of thousands, and even those are probably not really over night. So, yes, you’ve really got to be passionate about the work, and then, if you are, its a matter of doing it. Working hard to create more and more content and continually improving your skills as you do.

Short Profile:

Name: Garfield Lindsay Miller, http://storyfieldproductions.com

Occupation: Storyteller, Writer, Director, Producer

Agent: Glenn Cockburn of Meridian Artists, http://www.meridianartists.com

L&Co. TALKs is a weekly dose of candid interviews with savvy marketers, tastemakers and creators. All interviews are carefully chosen to tell the story behind the individual. Writer – Shannon Lewis, President, L& Co. 

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