MILLER & SON is a coming-of-age story about a transgender woman, Ryan, living in rural America. Ryan works at her family’s auto shop with her single father, but she hides her transfeminine identity in order to avoid rejection from her father, friends and community. When another mechanic spots Ryan expressing her femininity in public, Ryan must confront her compartmentalized lives. An intimate character study, MILLER & SON looks at the dilemma between social acceptance and authenticity.
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. A social realist drama and visual character piece, the film explores social acceptance, authenticity, and the desire to belong.
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 two lives. During the day, Ryan works at the family auto shop with her father. At night, she drives an hour from town to visit an LGBTQ-friendly bar. When someone from the community sees Ryan expressing her femininity in public, Ryan must confront her compartmentalized lives. The film follows Ryan's journey navigating between her internal and external personas.
Set in present-day rural America, 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 authentic expression seems to reject the life we lead. 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.
The movies I love most allow me to connect to strong personal emotion, make me empathize with or understand complex characters, and challenge me to question my own contradictions. Watching and making movies makes me feel alive.
MILLER & SON is important for me to make because I want 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 transgender people doing what they love and being good at it. Ryan loves the auto shop and her skillset in mechanics is indispensable. I want to see more stories about transgender people living outside of the urban metropolis. Ryan lives in a small rural town with her dad, and she holds this sense of home and place very dear to her. Even more essential, I want to tell a story that moves away from the villain/victim mentality and instead seeks to understand how we are all multifaceted, complex humans.
The path toward authenticity is not always linear. Instead, it is intricate and dimensional. 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.
I look forward to sharing MILLER & SON with you!