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 thesis film created by a group of filmmakers as part of their Master of Fine Arts degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory. An intimate drama and visual character-piece, the film 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 our child’s identity seems to reject the life we lead and provide. MILLER & SON is immediately relatable; 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. Ultimately, MILLER & SON seeks to entertain and provide a cinematic experience that incites personal emotion and catharsis.
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 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. The film asks what we risk when we express our authentic selves, and what we gain.
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.