It's difficult not to be slightly awed by Logan and Noah Miller. First, there's their physical presence—a one-two punch of looming, squared-jawed, broad-shouldered manliness that makes their brief but loathed foray into modeling seem an obvious choice—and then there's what they've accomplished, which is nothing short of miraculous.
Growing up, the identical twin brothers had their sights set on a career in major league baseball. But when that dream evaporated under the hot Arizona sun that beats down on minor league training camps, they found themselves blindly embarking on a film career. Without any experience, or even the knowledge that the written form of a film is called a "screenplay," the Miller Brothers set off on a path that brings them to the December 17 release of "Touching Home," an independent feature they wrote, directed, produced and star in alongside four-time Oscar nomineeEd Harris, who they signed to the project by accosting him at a film festival.
To say these guys are ballsy is a serious understatement.
"Touching Home" is an unabashedly sincere and heartbreaking semi-autobiographical film about the Millers' relationship with their father (played with breathtaking brilliance by Harris), a man who struggled with alcoholism, was homeless for the last fifteen years of his life and died suddenly in prison. It was in the coroner's office, holding their dead father's hand, where the brothers swore they'd get the film made within a year, and through an astonishing series of events, they kept their word, ultimately assembling a cast and crew with eleven Oscars and twenty-six nominations.
Speaking in swirling tandem one afternoon at their favorite Santa Monica coffee shop, they describe the dark days that brought them to LA for "an extended pitstop" on their way home to Northern California, their naivete when they began the scripting process by reading a few screenwriting books—"We were complete idiots," Noah laughs—to finishing their feature debut and landing a mega-agent whose rooster includes Michael Bay. Asked how they had such an incredible string of good fortune, Noah says without hesitation, "Because we'd had such a string of bad fortune, it finally evened itself out. If there's any justice, or whatever you believe in in the universe, you can only get so many No's and eventually you'll get a Yes."
"And, if you're diligent, it becomes a constant game of leverage," Logan adds. "Once you build that momentum, you just keep driving it."
"And we always were prepared," Noah interjects. "We were always going to make the movie, it just turned out we made it in the way we did."
"We were going to make it on a video camera from Circuit City," Logan says, without sarcasm.
"But it started growing," Noah continues. "It’s easy to look at the end and say, 'Oh, this is where we knew we were going to go,' but each step opened a new door and we had to say, 'Okay, how do we build on this opportunity that we didn't see?'" He compares their first filmmaking experience to Lewis and Clark-style exploration. "You know you want to head west but you don’t know how you're going to get there."
On the other side of the filmmaking process, an ordeal they chronicled in their book, "Either You're In or You're In the Way," Logan says, "We're in a similar position to before we made the movie, but we're in a better position because we have a little more credibility and the experience of having been through the entire process."
"When you do it on your own and smash your face a million times, you learn so much," Noah smiles.
"Touching Home" opens December 17