Troy Anthony Miller grew up in Overland Park, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City) and is a graduate of the film production program at Northwestern University. After spending a couple years teaching English in Japan, Miller landed in Austin, Texas, where he wrote and directed the micro-budget indie film Severence, which premiered at the Austin Film Festival to audience and critical acclaim. In 2013 he returned to AFF with his feature screenplay The Hitch, which won the Horror Screenplay Award and is currently under option with Frank Darabont’s Darkwoods Productions. In 2014, he was one of six writers selected to participate in the 2nd annual Screenwriter’s Lab sponsored by The Black List.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting? Well, really it was with this film I made called Severance. I had just gotten laid off from a job in high-tech, had some money in the bank and been wanting to make a feature, and was like “Okay – let’s do this.” So I wrote a script loosely based on my recent career woes. It was a kind of goofy comedy-slash-homage to film noir, and it was one of those projects that you’re calling in every favor for, maxing out credit cards, and pushing through the mountain of fear and doubt that threatens to collapse on you ever single day. Thankfully, I made it through, and the film premiered at AFF. And because of that, I met Dan Petrie, Jr., got him to see the film, and he’s been just an unbelievable friend and champion of mine ever since. I’m sure I’ve met more people in the industry through him than anything else I’ve done – so I’ve got to credit that film, the fest, and Dan for really kind of jump starting the whole thing for me.
What was a major turning point in your career? Without a doubt, winning the Horror Award at AFF. The award was sponsored by Darkwoods Productions, which is Frank Darabont’s company, and when they actually wanted to option the film, I couldn’t believe it. It was so surreal. I mean, I couldn’t think of a more perfect marriage of producer and project – it would have been a dream to have a company like that take the film under their wings. And so literally, it was a dream come true. The award, the option, and all the good will they both fostered got me to where I am today – in Los Angeles making a real shot of turning these successes into a career. It‘s a lot more than most aspiring screenwriters have, and I‘m painfully aware of it – I feel blessed every single day.
Do you have a favorite or memorable experience at Austin Film Festival? So many! I wore a white tux to promote Severence, and one night I, uh, got slightly inebriated and went to a jam-packed party in Shane Black‘s room, only to wake hours later as the only one left, asleep in a chair at the foot of the bed. I’m not judging this, only to say that it was memorable — you know, what I remember of it. Another great memory was hearing my name announced at the awards luncheon the year I won for The Hitch — I was picking at my fish, heard my name, and the only thing I could think of was, “I’ve got to get this fish out of my mouth!” so I desperately slammed and swished half a glass of water on the way to the podium.