Jackson Miller is an LA based writer and director known for his evocative visual style, inventive world-building, and thought provoking plot-lines.
Jackson graduated from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media arts in 2015.
His films have played at festivals around the world including at Austin Film Festival, Comic-Con International Film Festival, and The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes. His work has been recognized by the Emmy Foundation, The SAG-AFTRA Foundation, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The MPSE and more.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
The world from Prism is definitely not a world I’d like to live in! I don’t think I’d last long in Dan’s bleak, colorless reality, especially as an artist. So many of the films and franchises I love also have seemingly hopeless worlds. If I were to choose a Sci-Fi reality to actually live in I’d have to say the adventurous, space colonized world from the game Mass Effect 1.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
A sci-fi character I connect to on a spiritual level and strive to be like is Vincent from Gattaca, one of my favorite films. He quite literally shoots for the stars and stops at nothing to achieve his dream. Spirit animal: Ein from Cowboy Bebop.
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
I’m a sucker for sympathetic AI characters in film and TV but I think ultimately it would depend on how they are programmed! A robot directed Sci-Fi film? Sign me up. I’d be curious to see anything even approaching artwork from an AI or algorithm.
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Commander Shepard, Takeshi Kovacs, Mando
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
I won’t highlight a specific idea but I will say that if a concept isn’t working, It sometimes helps to put it on the back burner. I’ll often end up pulling elements from concepts like this later, or combining them with other ideas. The elements I end up using are typically the ones I connect with most strongly. Personally, I'm truly driven by an idea when I feel I’m doing something unique. The core pillars of storytelling will always be the same but I try to present a new take, and that’s a huge part of what draws me to sci-fi.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
Sci-Fi has definitely become a huge part of the general zeitgeist and is no longer a fringe genre. It may partly be the people that I surround myself with but in no way do I feel isolated by my love for it. I do often connect most with hard, intellectual Sci-Fi, and I wish there was more of it out there, but even that has infiltrated pop culture with films like Arrival, Dune, and Annihilation.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
I definitely sit firmly on the digital side of the spectrum, though I do have a certain nostalgia for the analogue world that narratives like Stranger Things and Super 8 really spoke to. The technology in my movies lies all over the spectrum but It’s typically more advanced than what exists in our world.
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
It really depends on the project. Of course I subconsciously pull from the enormous amount of Sci-Fi content out there, but ultimately I look for inspiration all around me, in the real world. Since I'm often working with a limited budget I like to repurpose objects and locations that already exist in novel ways. For PRISM, instead of constructing brand new sets on a student budget, we found futuristic looking buildings (community colleges work surprisingly well!) and then built upon those locations with VFX and set dressing to suit our purposes. This allowed us to focus our efforts on specific visual effects and props that mattered most to us.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Star Wars, Philip K. Dick (Never read Burroughs), Practical, Dystopia, Post Apocalypse