A transwoman mechanic lives between running her family’s auto shop during the day and expressing her femininity at night, until an unforeseen event threatens the balance of her compartmentalized life.
About Miller & Son
MILLER & SON is a character-driven drama that looks at the dilemma between social acceptance and authenticity. The family auto shop of MILLER & SON represents everything that Ryan has known and loved: her father, her community, her passion for cars, even her destiny to inherit the shop. Ryan compartmentalizes her femininity from her life at the garage, managing to find a livable compromise between her daytime and nighttime worlds. When an unforeseen event forces her worlds to converge, Ryan must confront her conflicting identities.
The film asks what we risk when we express our authentic selves, and what we gain. Similarly, it asks what it means to be a parent when your child’s identity seems to reject the life you lead and provide. MILLER & SON touches on universal themes of family and belonging within the specific setting of a family-owned auto shop in rural America.
MILLER & SON was an important project for me to make because I wanted to see this film. As a genderqueer person and member of the LGBTQ community, I have an interest in seeing authentic, dimensional portrayals of trans and gender nonconforming characters on screen. In MILLER & SON, I was more interested in tracking Ryan’s emotional journey rather than explicitly stating her identity or creating a teaching moment out of her experience. I wanted to portray a character whose skillset in mechanics was just as much a part of her identity as her trans identity.
Whether or not you identify as transgender, everyone has a desire to belong in the world and has their own stories about masking feelings in order to fit in, move ahead, or protect themselves. Ryan loves working at her family’s auto shop but knows that her femininity is not accepted in that space, so she compartmentalizes her transfeminine identity from her work as a mechanic. As a gender nonbinary person, I also compartmentalize as a coping mechanism and am often confronted with the choice of whether to speak up or stay silent. I wanted to explore this feeling of compartmentalization, and the compromises that people are confronted with on the path toward authenticity. Compartmentalization can be an invaluable skill and survival tactic, but there is also strength in vulnerability, filled with pain, freedom, and uncharted territory.