Miller graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) this year and returned to Memphis in November because she is one of 12 finalists in the Festival’s Black Filmmaker Residency in Screenwriting competition. During the Festival, Miller will pitch her feature movie screenplay, which is set in Memphis, to investors and producers. One winner will be awarded $10,000 toward a feature film project.
Miller said she has five minutes to pitch her feature film idea, but that there also will be opportunities to meet with different producers and investors, as well as audience members to network and trade information. “It’s a chance to network and tell as many people my elevator pitch as possible and see what happens. I just want to get my feature film idea on the radar of as many industry people as I can.”
Before the Festival, Miller visited Hutchison to talk with faculty members Nick Simpson, upper school multimedia teacher, Tracey Zerwig Ford, fine arts & Center for Excellence director, and Mary Aubrey Landrum Stafford ’10, alumnae director. She also answered questions from students Caroline Couch ’20, Callie Oehmler ’20, and Audrey Jones ’19. She talked about her experiences at USC and some of the things she’s learned about filmmaking and writing.
“Before I started at USC, I doubted myself and the stories I wanted to tell,” Miller admitted. “After being at USC, I learned to have confidence in what I have to say and know that I have something to say that’s different from everyone else.” She stressed to Couch, Oehmler, and Jones that if they feel like they have something to say, they should just do it. “There’s nothing holding you back except you.
“The second most valuable thing I learned at USC was about collaboration. Don’t try to do everything alone,” Miller said. “Your friends are going to want to help you, and you’re not going to be good at everything. Let other people help you with their skills, and then you can offer them your skills in return.”
Miller and her sister, Amber Miller ’16, both graduated from Hutchison. Miller said she remembered touring the school for senior kindergarten with her mother, Veronica Cherry, who was starting to work at Hutchison as a Spanish teacher. “We all three came to Hutchison at the same time.”
“I got my love of learning and being creative from Hutchison,” Miller added. “There were options shown to me that I’m really grateful for, especially the arts programs. I did musical theatre from fourth grade to senior year. My teachers always encouraged me to be creative and go after anything I wanted to, especially in my writing classes. As I turned out to be a writer, I really credit Hutchison for those skills, specifically.”
When she was in upper school, she was the resident videographer, editing and filming the student council videos and completing a certificate of arts. “In order to get into USC, I had to make a five-minute short film, and I shot it at Hutchison and cast all of my friends in it.
“Hutchison teaches you how to be a great writer,” Miller said. “Christina Wellford-Scott ’69 was influential in teaching me how to think about literature, theatre, writing, and life in general. She was really inspirational to me while I was there.”