David Miller, a veteran Canadian film publicist, producer and distributor who led an Oscar-winning animated short film campaign for the National Film Board of Canada in 2004, has died. He was 47.
Miller died on April 6 due to pre-existing health conditions. His award-winning producing and executive producing credits included work on two movies by director Richie Mehta, Amal, which was shot on a tight budget in India in 2007, and Siddarth; Jason Buxton’s Blackbird; the Henry Rollins starrer He Never Died, directed by Jason Krawczyk; Michael Melski’s The Child Remains; and Joey Klein’s The Other Half, which starred Tatiana Maslany.
His sudden death was followed by an outpouring of industry tributes, including from longtime creative collaborators.
Jay Baruchel, who worked with Miller on Baseballissimo, which the How to Train Your Dragon star co-wrote with Jesse Chabot, told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement: “David was a sincerely kind human with boundless enthusiasm and a contagious adoration of cinema. He always had time and patience and a kind word. The world has dimmed in the absence of his ceaseless positivity.”
“We join with Canada’s screen industry in mourning the passing of producer/distributor David Miller. David’s films and passionate support for emerging talent will live on as his legacy,” Ontario Creates, a provincial agency that markets Ontario to Hollywood producers, said on its Twitter account.
Film producer Micol Marotti of Media Monkey Productions recalled a determined Miller working on an Oscar-winning campaign for the NFB’s animated short film Ryan by director Chris Landreth in 2004 in Los Angeles, while in the same year the NFB had a second Academy Awards nomination for Hubert Davis’ Hardwood.
“It was a ton of work — calls at all hours, satellite interviews. He (David) was determined to get our filmmakers noticed, and in that short week he was there, he managed to set up meetings with top studio executives for both filmmakers,” Marotti told THR. That perseverance on the day of the 2004 Academy Awards led Miller without proper credentials into the arms of security guards as he frantically wrangled interviews for Landreth and Davis with top media outlets.
“David called me from the red carpet and calmly told me that he got arrested and needed me to vouch for his identity with security. He would truly do anything to promote Canadian filmmakers whom he believed deserved their time in the spotlight,” Marotti insisted.
“He was feigning outrage afterwards because the security guard asked me if I could describe him and I said he was short with a raspy voice,” she added.
Born on July 16, 1974 in Kitchener, Ontario, Miller graduated from Forest Heights Collegiate, before going on to to study communications at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He became a publicist for the Academy of Canadian Cinema to kick off his career in Canadian film and TV, and eventually landed at the NFB, the country’s public film producer, where his uncle Peter Starr was a prolific documentary maker.
“David was a shining light in our family. He gave so much and had so much left to give. His tenacious contribution and passion for filmmaking in Canada and internationally was his great gift to those that worked with him. David’s wonderful sense of humour and dynamic personality was infectious to everyone that knew him. He will be terribly missed,” Starr told THR in a statement.
Miller completed a creative and business development stint at indie broadcaster Channel Zero before in 2013 joining Chad Maker and Kirk Comrie in launching the boutique distribution company A71 Entertainment. Their releasing credits include Director X’s Across the Line, Matt Austin’s Pretend We’re Kissing, Audrey Cummings’ Berkshire County and Rabid, Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska’s reimagining of David Cronenberg’s classic horror pic.
A mainstay of Canadian and international film festivals and markets, Miller could frequently be seen bounding over to greet friends and potential film financiers. He sat on the Canadian Media Producers Association’s feature film committee, representing indie producers and distributors.
He is survived by his wife Corinne, his brother Scott and Robert Miller, his father. Miller’s mother, Patricia Starr, passed away in 2013.