I knew I
wanted to be a screenwriter.......
long before I
finally accepted it. Being from Indiana, screenwriting is not
something I grew up considering as a career possibility. I decided on
attending this university because it has a good architecture program,
but I never did apply to it. I had been lying to myself, reasoning
that architecture would be a satisfying creative outlet while still
being a steady, "real" occupation in the fullest Midwestern sense of
the word. I would design a casino or a skyscraper, and I could
continue making movies as a hobby. Then something clicked. An
architect getting the contract for a major skyscraper or casino is
about as great a long shot as succeeding in the film business, so why
not go for the long shot that would make me happiest?
I know I've
when I run out of goals to accomplish. I'd
like to hope I will never settle for considering myself successful. If
I may turn a phrase, success is consolation for those who have
forgotten how to dream. Corny, I know. I apologize.
incredibly clichéd, but I awoke from a particular sort of dream that I
believe most people have experienced, and I felt that this dream would
make for a good short. I don't mean to sound pretentious, as if "the
idea came to me in a dream." It is more that I had a mundane dream,
one I have had numerous times in the past, and for whatever reason I
started to think of narrative possibilities in the very concept of
What inspired you to write?
Nick Miller: In many ways, I have the internet to thank. Conventional wisdom seems
to say that the internet has all but destroyed the way my age bracket
communicates in writing. I firmly believe that it had the opposite
effect on me. Spending a great deal of time on various message boards,
arguing about and discussing anything from politics to sports to comic
books, I learned to "speak" naturally in writing. The internet, for
me, has been the difference between taking French classes and living
in France for a year. When I started getting into filmmaking, I wrote
to give myself something to shoot, but I soon realized that I was
overlooking the part of the process in which I had the most training.
FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to
write your first script?
Nick Miller: Not much, to be honest. I became excited about the notion of writing a
script and jumped headfirst into it. To get the basic formatting
right, I found a script sample and did my best to match it manually in
MS Word. Only after this first haphazard attempt did I slow down and
begin doing the legwork necessary to write something worth reading.
Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write
Yonderwindow Breaks is one of my first short scripts, although not the
very first. This is really bad advice, but I conceived and wrote the
script in one evening, and then I submitted that first draft to
American Gem later the same night. I wouldn't suggest following my
lead, but I stumbled upon the contest shortly before the deadline and
was determined to enter something.
Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
Nick Miller: It seems you folks are bound and determined to
uncover my bad habits. I wish I could say that I have a disciplined
schedule for writing, but I have yet to find any consistent groove
that works for me.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests
are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
Short of writing,
writing, and writing, entering screenplay contests is one of the most
important things an aspiring screenwriter can do. There's no
substitute for getting your work in front of capable, objective eyes.
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
American Gem Short Script Competition?
to write a short script over the summer and produce it during this
school year, but I get really nervous about approaching actors and
things of that nature. I felt that having a script with a concrete
selling point, "it placed in a contest," would bolster my confidence
and give me the edge I need to approach people. After researching
various short screenplay contests, American Gem seemed to be the most
What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
More than any particular script, I would strongly suggest reading
screenplays for movies that you have not seen. All too often it can be
comfortable to reach for that script of your favorite movie, but it is
very difficult to appreciate a script as a work unto itself when you
transpose memories of the produced film over your reading.
Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
I have played the drums, mostly jazz, since I was knee-high. Both my
father and my uncle on the mother's side played, so drumming is in my
blood. Then there is the internet, but I don't know that I would call
it a passion. An addiction, maybe.
Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?
I almost feel self-conscious in giving this answer, but I loves me
some Tarantino. Too many writers and directors in the mid-90's took to
fashioning themselves in his image without having his same passions
fueling their work, which is where the hint of insecurity comes from
when I conceive of myself along those lines. But then, I was seven
years old when Reservoir Dogs came out. I think that I can honestly
say I grew up with Tarantino in the same way Tarantino grew up with
his various influences.
Name the director you would love to work with and why?
The man with no
name--Clint Eastwood. I have no substantial evidence to support this,
but he strikes me as a director who respects his writers and the work
they have done. Other than failing miserably and becoming a career
dishwasher, my biggest screenwriting fear is seeing something I have
written turned into a movie I never envisioned, for the worse. Even if
Clint Eastwood were to turn my script into something I never intended
it to be, I can't imagine it would be for the worse.
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Nick Miller: Jack Nicholson.
Come on. I'll call it, "Jack Nicholson Talks for 90 Minutes: A
Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
I do not feel
accomplished enough to be giving advice, but I suppose I can make a
suggestion. Avoid the temptation to start out with high-concept, epic
adventures. Write what you know. As a rule of thumb, I don't write
anything I couldn't shoot with little trouble. If shooting a movie on
no budget would be impractical, then I probably don't know enough
about the subject to be writing that movie, anyway. You will have
plenty of opportunities to time-travel and explore strange new worlds
when you are a successful writer working on assignment.
What's next for you?
something unexpected happens, I'd like to shoot Yonderwindow Breaks
myself and maybe enter it in the Student Academy Awards.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from
Nick Miller: If I knew, it
would be the farthest ahead I've ever planned. Ask me what I'm doing
for dinner tomorrow.