Crimson Celluloid: As I mentioned to Leoni Leaver when I interviewed her, There’s Something in the Pilliga, was a delightful discovery. I didn’t know much about it but was pleasantly surprised at how effective it was. How long was the process between writing the film and delivering the final product?
DM: 9 years. From Dec 2005/ Jan 2006 through to Jan 2015. I felt like Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now to be honest. It was long but worth it!
CC: What was the impetus behind making the film? Where did the idea come from?
DM: As a journalist who worked and lived around the Pilliga I was told many yarns. The best came from my cousin Tracy in Dec 2005 and the movie reflects that. The first act is based on her story up to where they go to Hermie’s Hut.
CC: Before seeing the film I thought I had sated my desire to see any more “found footage” films, it has been done to death. However I found Pilliga very engaging and this is in no small part thanks to the excellent acting of all concerned. What can you tell us about the process involved in casting the film?
DM: Extensive. Leoni was a last minute inclusion only 4 weeks out from the shoot. We all skyped most nights and I had to trust the actors to put their own stamp on their roles with some improv.
CC: The ONLY fault I can find with the film, and it may not be something you had any control over, was the choice of the DVD cover picture. The use of a picture of someone holding a shotgun really had little to do with the final film. What do you feel about the DVD box?
DM: Monster Pictures changed the cinema poster of the hillbilly with the gun to a yowies eye for the DVD. I had no say on that and preferred the hillbilly.
CC: Given that this was your debut feature as a director, what problems did you encounter that you didn’t foresee? What did you learn from making the film that you will take forward onto your next film?
DM: Weather! Flash floods slowed us down. Money was the other one. But all filmmakers face that challenge.
CC: Are you happy working in the horror/thriller genre or do you want to work in all genres?
DM: Horror/ thriller is my preferred genre. Drama as well but that’s it.
CC: Who has influenced you as a filmmaker?
DM: Gary Oldman, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino and Messrs Lumet, Pollack, Scorcese and of course Kubrick.
CC: If you had the chance to go back and change something about Pilliga, with the benefit of hindsight would you alter anything?
DM: I’d show the Yowie a bit more and maybe finish it in half the time!
CC: What kind of reactions and feedback have you received about the film?
DM: Mostly good. It has its world-wide release this month so someone thinks I’m doing something right.
CC: Given the low-budget, did the cast and crew band together with determination to make the best film possible despite budgetary limitations?
DM: Yes. I can’t thank them all enough and would work with most again in a heartbeat. Leoni, Brendan Byrne, Bob Clark, Craig Hawley and my wife Amy especially were great.
CC: Your next film is the intriguingly titled Are you Scared Yet? What can you tell us about this film?
DM: A family is paid a visit by a mysterious couple with dark intentions. Inspired by actual events with a sprinkle of The Strangers.
CC: You’ve mentioned that you are working on a screenplay about the Katherine Knight case, one that I’m very interested in. How far along in the development process is this film? I’m hoping it’ll be a very dark film given the subject matter.
DM: A major US distributor has expressed interest and we are signing off on an agreement.
CC: What advice would you give someone contemplating a career in directing?
DM: Read, watch movies and ask questions. Then grab a camera and your friends and practice.
CC: How can people keep up to date on your projects?
DM: They can follow the Dane Millerd page on Facebook.
You can order There’s something in the Pilliga from Monster Pictures