As the vice president of Seraphim, Inc., the production company for author, filmmaker and painter Clive Barker, Mark Miller, BFA film production ’06, has one of the coolest jobs around. Check out this article in USA Today to read about one of Mark’s latest projects and learn more about his collaboration with Barker.
Read on to find out more about Mark, in his own words, and see what advice he has for Chapman students today.
Tell us about your career- what do you do on a day to day basis?
Honestly, there is no real day to day breakdown. Some days I sit at my computer all day and answer emails. Other days I’m running around Los Angeles like a madman trying to get from one meeting to another. And, on occasion, my weekends are spent at conventions, mingling with horror fans in elaborate costumes. It’s a blast.
What insight would you give to current Chapman University students and alumni who are searching for employment?
There are two things I heard repeatedly during my time at Chapman.
- Get used to hearing no, but don’t let it stop you.
- Work with everyone you meet. This world is 99% contacts.
Both of these are crucial to remember because they are 100% true.
What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?
Do everything you want to do. Seriously. If there’s something you’re thinking about doing, do it. Simple as that. I toyed with the idea of working at the university paper, but I never did it and I wish I had now. Not because I think I’d be in a better place career-wise, but because it’s an experience I think I would have enjoyed and benefited from. The temptation to ‘get by’ is great. But excelling is greater. And having no regrets is the greatest thing of all.
From your time at Chapman, which faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you and why?
There are so many. I couldn’t possibly pick just one.
- Mildred Lewis was one of my professors during my first semester at Chapman and she really opened my mind up to the fact that there was something to be serious about in this world. She was so passionate that it was contagious. There’s nothing better than a teacher that gives their heart and soul in the classroom. She did that. I was fully engaged whenever she was speaking. Her course was a hell of an introduction to university. I loved every second of it.
- Elizabeth Borrud. I don’t think I ever looked forward to a single class more than hers. What’s interesting is that while the class itself (Intro to Theater) was a very straightforward lecture/note taking course, Professor Borrud’s teaching style really woke something in me. I learned to think differently about art. Because of that, it was in this class that I authored my first truly good piece of writing.
- Jim Macak. This guy was awesome. Having learned so much from Professor Borrud and having witnessed my writing blossom, I thought I’d take a chance on a TV writing class. I can honestly say I’d never had that much fun in my life. I wrote a spec script. I worked with fellow students on ideas. And I honed in on my voice. Professor Macak encouraged me (even in subsequent semesters when passing one another in the hall) to continue writing. Thanks in large part to him, I never stopped.
- David Garcia. He was my senior thesis professor. He’s since passed away and I still can’t believe it because he was such crack up. He told you like it was and held nothing back. His frankness helped prepare me for the journey ahead. Professor Garcia wasn’t afraid to tell you no or that your idea stunk. And while it may not sound like a good thing now, believe me, you’ll want people in your corner later who are willing to challenge you. He’s the one that told me ‘luck is found at the corner of opportunity and preparation’. Truer words were never spoken. I still carry them with me.
How has your Chapman degree helped you in your professional and personal life?
Funny you should ask that. Chapman has quite the reputation in the industry these days and, oddly enough, alma maters ALWAYS come up when meeting someone new. Every time I mention Chapman, the person I’m talking to lights up. I’ve heard that some places ONLY hire Chapman interns now. And invariably, someone knows someone else that went to Chapman and asks if I know them. Sometimes, I do. It creates an instant vibe of positivity that has followed me since the day I graduated.
How were you involved on campus during your time as a Chapman student? (clubs, organizations, etc.)
As a former student of the film school, I was involved wholly in that aspect of campus life. I worked with a lot of people that I still think about with fondness. While most of the things we made were silly and stupid, they were also consistently educative. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world.
What is your favorite Chapman memory?
How about three:
- The very first time I set foot on campus. As a high school senior, I had no idea where I wanted to go to university. And then I found Chapman. The second I walked onto the grounds I knew it was where I belonged.
- Hearing the good news that I’d been accepted to the film school. It had to have been providence. I still can’t believe I got accepted, and I graduated more than five years ago!
- Sitting in one of my first classes and learning how to direct live television. I remember we put on a fake live show and I was operating the control board. The student that had been assigned to be that show’s director told me to throw to camera b. I pressed the button and looked around at my classmates with a huge smile on my face and said, “Can you believe we’re getting a grade for this?”
What was your favorite spot on campus as a student?
If I’m being honest, there wasn’t a single part of the campus where I didn’t like spending my time. I loved sitting by the piece of the Berlin Wall while watching people walk by. I loved walking through Memorial Hall and trying to soak in the years of knowledge. I was always excited when I found I had a class in Argyros Forum. That building has the look and feel of a prestigious performing arts center. Also, as someone who’s old enough to remember a time before the new amazing film school, I’ll always have an affinity for DeMille Hall.
Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?
Absolutely. While I don’t have the time to visit as often as I’d like, I still check the Slate (Dodge College’s weekly e-mail update) every week to see the upcoming screenings. I have attended a few of them. I’ll never not do that. Additionally, I’m always checking the calendar to see what shows are being mounted. Most recently, I attended the production of Company that was staged at Waltmar Theatre. I had an amazing time. I’m always happy to find an excuse to come back.
Anything else you’d to share with the Chapman Family?
Yeah. Thanks for the memories.
Mark Miller ’06: Now and Then
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