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 is 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 want to see more stories with people who identify along the transgender spectrum. I want to see more stories about trans people doing what they love and being good at it. Ryan loves working at the auto shop with her dad, and her skillset in mechanics is indispensable. Even more essential, I want to see stories that move away from the villain/victim mentality and instead seek to understand how we are all multifaceted, complex humans.
Being genderqueer, transgender, or gender-nonconforming is beautiful, but the world likes boxes, binaries, and familiarity. As someone raised by scientists, I am all too familiar with adapting my behavior to fit within a box and putting my emotions aside to focus on the task at hand.
The path toward authenticity is not always linear. Instead, it is intricate and dimensional. The garage is home to Ryan, with all of the history, nostalgia and baggage that comes with it. Ryan loves the 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 non-binary person, I also compartmentalize as a coping mechanism and am often confronted with the choice of whether to speak up or stay silent. I am interested in exploring this feeling of compartmentalization, and the compromises that transgender and gender non-conforming people are confronted with on a daily basis.
In a way, making this film is an attempt to connect with myself, to connect with the emotions I mask and sometimes am not even fully aware of, and hopefully to share this experience with an audience. 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. Compartmentalization can be an invaluable skill, but there is also strength in vulnerability, filled with pain, freedom, and uncharted territory.
I look forward to sharing MILLER & SON with you!