On January 5, 2006, the day Daniel Arthur Miller died alone on the cement floor of a cell in the Marin County Jail, he was only 59, and he'd been homeless for fifteen years. Upon seeing his cut-open corpse on a coroner's table — "even with the blood, there was a peacefulness about him that gave him back ten years of his life" — his sons Logan and Noah Miller vowed to honor him by making a film based on his story and theirs: a story of how alcohol and gambling destroyed a working-class American family, robbing a man of his dignity, his relationship with his wife and children, and finally his life.
That was quite a vow, considering that the identical twin brothers had neither a bankroll nor significant Hollywood contacts at the time. Yet last year, their film Touching Home became reality. Written, directed, and produced by the Miller twins, it stars such talents as Ed Harris, Brad Dourif, and Robert Forster. (Harris, of course, plays the dad.) How did this happen? The twins tell all about "our moviemaking hell-ride" in their lively but poignant book Either You're In or You're in the Way, which they will discuss at Moe's Books (2476 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) on Monday, May 11.
"We share everything," the Millers write. "It's been like that since the womb. ... We have one cell phone, one computer, and one car between us. ... We've always been best friends and have always helped each other, except when we tried to resolve our conflicts by punching one another." Each calls the other Bro, and they don't even fight over women. "If there's only one princess, then Bro can have her. We cook for each other and serve more food to the other guy."
They hadn't planned to be filmmakers. They'd planned to be baseball stars: "It had been our dream since we had dreams." But when "baseball didn't work out ... we had no backup plan, limited education, no résumé for any job above manual labor." (Tellingly, they write "résumé" in the singular, as if this, too, would of course be shared.) So, while working as bingo callers and club bouncers, they started writing a screenplay about their youth in Lagunitas — "a town of a couple hundred outlaws and outcasts doing their best to live off the grid" — and Fairfax, where their mom was a gardener and their dad an alcoholic roofer who went so wild that the boys considered him "on Mars" while under the influence.
When they last saw him, two months before he died, they told him about the screenplay. "Who's gonna play me?" he asked the twins. "He's gotta be good-looking." 7:30 p.m., free. MoesBooks.com
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