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// Artists // Amy Miller

Other films directed by Amy Miller

No Land No Food No Life / 2013
St. Henry, the 26th of August / 2011
Outside of Europe / 2008

Amy Miller

Biography

Amy Miller is an award winning media maker and social justice organizer based in Montréal. Her documentaries include No Land No Food No Life a hard-hitting film on the economy, agricultural land grabs and the changes to farmers’ lives around the world and The Carbon Rush, a global exposé on how carbon offset projects impact local peoples. This film has expanded to include an online interactive game as well as a photo-essay book published by Red Deer Press (2014). Her first feature Myths for Profit: Canada’s Role In Industries of War and Peace and her short Outside of EUrope, which focuses on the exclusionary nature of immigration and border policies, continues to be screened around the world. She remains dedicated to developing critical documentaries for transformative social change and helping out grassroots campaigns for justice.

Artist talk with Amy Miller

Interview with Amy Miller

Why did you make Myths for Profit?
I had been involved in the peace and social justice movement for years and I felt we were missing some basic tools in our toolbox so to speak. I was dumbfounded to realize that no documentary had been made on the subject, which I believed was  necessarily for people to move forward and build upon to have a strong movement. Popular education and movement building go hand and hand and leaflets can only go so far. The power of visual/audio documentaries can be really strong in creating those necessary 'ah ha' moments for people to connect the dots. I decided that I was ready to take on the challenge of making the documentary that would fill this gap. Luckily I was naive/arrogant enough to not realize how difficult making a documentary is and my background is as a union and community organizer so I was working from these frameworks which continuously pushes you to problem solve and never give up.

How did you fund it?
In 2007 I left my job as a union organizer and bought myself a mac book pro and the Gl2 Cannon. I took a few courses at Main Film. I did a few interviews in Canada for the film and then moved to Serbia. While there I began freelancing as a journalist, writing and producing radio pieces for FSRN. I met Boban Chaldovich who was extremely interested in also learning how to make documentaries and he started taking on the bulk of the editing and post production aspects of our projects. Our first documentary 'Outside of EUrope' won a prize from CBC that awarded us a nice chunk of cash that allowed us to keep working on M4P. But by the time we both moved to Canada in July 2008 we were broke.

We launched a 10 minute demo online (this was before indiegogo and kickstarter existed, or if it we didnt know about it) and through my email and fb contacts we asked people to pre order copies of the film. I also started soliciting social justice groups to sponsor the film and to take on a date of the tour we were planning. In retrospect it is ridiculous to realize I organized a 9 week tour of the film before the film was done but that was how it worked out. About 200 people pre ordered the film at 15$ a piece and we got about 6k in sponsorships of the film. Everyone who worked on the film (myself and Boban included) did all the labour for free with deferrals worked out for the animation, sound track etc. Everyone really believed in the need for the project and the majority of the people involved were interested in continuing to work in film, and were seeing this as a calling card they would be able to use in future.

The tour was 9 weeks also a means that I paid off alot of the outstanding debts and could reimburse people. We asked social justice groups to host a screening and provide a place for us to sleep. We also asked for one hot vegan meal. My dear friends Rachelle Sauve and Shailagh Keaney and Boban and I were the crew for the tour with Rachelle who is a cook making up a great breakfast every day for us and our hosts and the left overs we would use for lunch. This cut costs alot. Shailagh's family lent us the van. We made every single screening a 'pay what you can' at the door and every night I would speak afterwards. People would buy dvds and were generous with what they would give before or after the screening. During the tour we sold almost 1000 dvds.
 
What's your current project about?
I think you mean projects. ;)
I just finished The Carbon Rush which is a global exposé on carbon offset projects and how they impact the local peoples. There is an interactive website that s going to be released with the documentary and there is also going to be a photo essay book released with the film.

I am currently directing a new doc on agricultural land grabs happening around the world entitled 'War for Soil' and produced by Films De L'Oeil and we hope to finish production by the fall and have everything finished by early 2013.

I am currently producing the documentary Resistencia directed by Jesse Freeston which tells the story of the farmers of Honduras' Aguán Valley and how they are  occuping the plantations, which will be released in the fall of 2012.
 
Why documentary?
I think it has the ability to quickly educate people on vast subjects and in the pace of the world right now people are less inclined to read books and documentaries stick in peoples minds. I think documentaries can be the tools for organizers to help people learn but then bring them into movements for change.

Anything else?
I think radical media is important to fuel our resistance movements and we shouldnt expect the State nor any corporation to fund this media. We need to do it ourselves and this requires mutual aid.

 

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