Mark Miller (BFA/Film Production ’06) has an awesome job. So awesome, in fact, that I don’t think it’s fair to say that it is a job. It’s more like “fun.” Mark Miller gets paid to have fun.
Miller is the Vice President of Seraphim Inc., better known to horror fans as the production company of the master of horror himself, Clive Barker. Miller recently visited Professor Roy Finich’s “Simply Horrific: What Makes Films Scary?” class to talk about working for Clive and how they made the Director’s Cut Blu-Ray of Nightbreed.
But, Miller’s path to working in the industry wasn’t the normal route. He wrote plenty of spec scripts, while still working long hours on film sets every day.
“It was a very stressful time,” Miller said. “I would work all day, and then get home and write until 4 AM.”
In addition to all that, he was also a model. When he heard Barker was doing an art show, using people as living canvases, he lobbied to get in. He got Barker’s number from his uncle, and somehow convinced him to use him.
“He literally tore apart a shirt, glued it to my back, and painted me to make it look like my spine was exposed. It was so simple, but extremely realistic,” Miller said.
After the show, he and Barker continued to chat, when Miller mentioned he had been writing for OC Weekly as well.
“I sent him a few of my pieces, which he liked, and shortly after that, I wound up interning for him. When one project was done, I always found another to help out on. I found ways to make myself valuable, and Clive saw that in my work.”
After almost 4 years of interning, a creative executive left, and Miller stepped in. While the position was only meant to be temporary, eventually Barker stopped looking, and Miller’s role became full time.
Before screening Nightbreed, Miller talked about how it was such a difficult and long process to pull the Director’s Cut together.
“I was told to get used to the word ‘no’ a lot. But, contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the industry is a jerk. A lot of people out there are decent, and just want to make cool things.
“Clive said there was tons of missing footage, and I just made it my mission to find it,” Miller said.
He spent a lot of time cold calling people, trying to find it, before eventually finding parts of it on VHS tapes in Barker’s own collection. While the quality wasn’t great, it was enough to make a composite cut of the film, which they then took on the road to sold out shows across the country. Eventually, Shout Factory was interested enough in it to take on the task of finding the original footage to restore, and then release on Blu-Ray.
“There was a lot of people saying they didn’t have the footage, or they wouldn’t look, but Shout Factory wouldn’t take no for an answer. They kept pushing and pushing, until eventually they found it.”
Original reels were found in Idaho, in about 800 shoe boxes. Shout Factory, and Miller, went through every single frame to find the missing footage to cut the film together. Unfortunately, the reels didn’t have sound, but they were able to restore the audio from the VHS tapes enough for it to work.
After 6 years of trying to find the footage, they had only a month to edit it, restore the sound, and color correct. But, it all worked out, because the film looks fantastic.
The Director’s Cut of Nightbreed is just one of the many accomplishments Miller has done in his time at Seraphim. He’s also editing Barker’s novels, writing comic books, running the day to day operations with the rest of the staff, and so much more.
“No two days are the same, but I like it that way.”
When asked about breaking into the industry, Miller had some interesting advice for students.
“I was told to get used to the word ‘no’ a lot. But, contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the industry is a jerk. A lot of people out there are decent, and just want to make cool things. Find those people, and you will have the time of your life.”