Women to Watch: Jan Miller

Jan Miller is a connector – and she loves doing it! Supporting producers around the world is in her DNA. After she invited us to speak at the second Strategic Partners in Halifax, (which she created and directed for 15 years), we would then meet Jan regularly in Cuba, Berlin and Cannes where she is a regular moderator at the Producers’ Network Breakfasts. Cartegena was also on her regular beat. She is in demand everywhere as a trainer for directors, writers and producers of pitching and content development as well as an international consultant, from regular events like Poland’s ScriptEast, to Guangzhou, Manaus, Capetown, Glasgow, Yellowknife and most recently, Tehran to name just a few of the more exotic locales.

After bringing the stars in alignment to launch Canada’s first national film school, the National Screen Institute and its highly regarded Features First and Drama Prize programs almost three decades ago, Jan moved from Canada’s west to the east coast where she launched Strategic Partners, Canada’s premiere international co-production market.

In Sp’s 10th year, Jan was approached by Nadja Radojevic of the The Erich Pommer Institut – Epi to partner on a brand new training concept Trans Atlantic Partners (Tap) where Jan Miller serves as its Head of Studies. Together they have developed the program in to one-of-a-kind training that brings together experienced producers from Europe, Canada and the U.S. with a team of Experts, to develop projects for international co-production and co-venturing. Tap is co-presented by the Erich Pommer Institut and the Canadian Media Production Association – Cmpa. Industry partners are Telefilm Canada and Canada Media Fund.

Always responding to the industry, Tap began with only European and Canadian involvement but both Nadja and Jan realized bringing U.S. indie producers into the mix would take the program to a whole other level. Each year, three additional producers from beyond these three ‘regions’ are also selected to participate in this two-module program.

The Tap 2015 line-up includes producers from India, Australia and Mexico. And now in its 7th year, Tap, responding to the industry needs, has opened its program to independent producers with international television series projects in development as well.

This year’s expert line-up of award winning producers include Belladonna’s René Bastian of Belladonna Productions whose film “ Cold in July” is directed by Jim Mickie, and whose newest film “Live Cargo” was presented at Ifp’s No Borders and Us in Progress this past month, K5’s Oliver Simon, Dynamic Television’s Klaus Zimmermann (“100 Code”, “Borgia”, “Death In Paradise”, “The Transporter”), international television consultant Lorri Faughan (“Pillars Of The Earth”), and Buffalo Gal’s Phyllis Laing, (“Aloft”, “Keyhole”, Heaven is for Real”) of Buffalo Gal Pictures, Canada, who was herself a Tap’er in its very first year.

Jan says that they often draw on previous Tap producer talent to come back as resources as so many have remarkable track records.

The Erich Pommer Institut of Germany is a leading training provider in the European media industry dealing with cutting-edge legal and economic topics. Nadja Radojevic, has recently moved into the CEO and Director of Training.

Epi was founded in 1998. Erich Pommer himself was the producer of “Metropolis” and “The Blue Angel”. He left Germany in the war and his grandson, Erich Pommer is a Los Angeles entertainment attorney. The Institute’s core business is advanced professional training in film and media. Aside from Trans Atlantic Partners which is held in Berlin in June and in Halifax in September post Tiff, Epi hosts a European TV Drama Series Lab following the American model with top showrunners and Scandinavian trainers. Now in its fourth edition - former editions featured Showrunners James Manos (“Sopranos”), Carol Flint (“West Wing”, “Emergency Room”), Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files”), Simon Mirren (“Criminal Minds”) and Glen Mazzara of “Walking Dead” – David Semel, Executive Producer “Madam Secretary”, Co-Executive Producer “House MD” and Director of “The Man in the High Castle”, “Hannibal”, Hemlock Grove”, “Homeland”, “Heroes”will be trainer amongst others.

Epi also hosts Essential Legal Framework, a program consisting of three independent workshops for European professionals on negotiating, European coproduction and digital strategies. A national section for German speakers only, runs four hours a day with 20-30 seminars per year. Its focus is on media law and deals with television, film production, labor and tax revisions which ­– one of their best-selling seminars as there have recently been quite a lot of changes in tax law in Germany. Classes in film financing and film funding are also popular.

There is also a Copyright Policy Congress, Writers Room Simulation and other conventions featuring various current topics relevant to the media industry. In fall Epi is pioneering with Epi e:training starting with a course on European Co-Production. Epi e:training is offering crucial knowledge and business insights by top-level experts online – at your own pace and wherever and whenever you want. “We developed the online training program according to the demands of today’s media industry. It offers more flexibility and adapts to individual preferences," comments Nadja Radojevic. Epi is located at the historic Babelsberg Studios and can be found at www.epi-medieninstitut.de

Trans Atlantic Partners (Tap) is designed for experienced film and television producers from Europe, Canada and the U.S. including 3 additional seats for International producers. The 24 Tap 2015 producers below were selected by the Erich Pommer Institut (Epi) (Germany) and the Canadian Media Production Association (Cmpa) (Canada).

European Producers

-Simon Amberger, Germany (Producer, "Eastalgia", Molodist Int. Ff 2012, Tallinn Int. Ff 2013 | Producer, Blockbustaz, 2014, Winner ZDFneo TV Lab 2014 | Producer, Ada, 2014)

-Sebastien Aubert, France ("Patardzlebi" (Brides), 2014, Berlinale 2014, 3rd Audience Award)

-Rudolf Biermann, Czech Republic (Producer, "Kawasaki's Rose," 2009, Berlinale 2010, Ecumenical Award Panorama Section, Czech Lion 2010 | Executive Producer, "I Served the King of England," 2006, Berlinale 2006, Fipresci Critics Award | Producer, "Garden," 1995, Karlovy Vary Iff 1995, Jury Award)

-Jacqueline de Goeij, Belgium (Producer, "Allez, Eddy!," 2012, Chemnitz Ff, Main Prize & Diamant Award For Most Convincing Acting Performance Of A Child, Palm Springs Best of the Fest Selection | Producer, "Zus & Zo," 2002, Academy Awards, Nominee Best Foreign Language Film, Dutch Ff, Golden Calf Best Actor)

-Sylvia Günthner, Germany (Producer, "Bela Kiss: Prologue," 2013, Twisted Celluloid Ff Ireland 2013, Audi Festival of German Films Australia 2014)

-Martin Heisler, Germany (Producer, "Houston," 2013, Sundance Ff 2013, Independent Ff Boston 2013, Special Prize of the Jury | Producer "Forget Me Not," 2012, Ff Locarno, Settima Della Critica 2012, Best film | Producer "David Wants to Fly," 2010, Berlinale 2010)

-Rachel Lysaght, Ireland (Producer, "Patrick's Day," 2015, Ifta 2014, Best Script, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Sound | Producer, "One Million Dubliners," 2014, TV Award Sandford Saint Martin Trust, UK, Irish Ff Boston 2015, Director's Choice, Galway Film Fleadh Ireland 2014, Best Feature Documentary)

-Christof Neracher, Switzerland (Producer, "War" (Chrieg), 2014, San Sebastian Ff 2014, Max Ophüls 2014, Max Ophüls Prize | Producer Vitus, 2006, Shortlist Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film 2006, Berlinale 2006, AFI Fest 2006, Audience Award)

-Diarmid Scrimshaw, UK (Producer / Production Co., "Tyrannosaur," 2012, Sundance 2011, Best Director, Satellite Awards 2011, Best First Feature)

Canadian Producers

-Coral Aiken, Canada (Producer, Big Muddy, 2014, Toronto Iff 2014, Arizona Iff 2015 | Producer, "The People Garden")

-Patrick Banister, Canada (Executive Producer, "Bitten," 2014 | Executive Producer, "Whistler," 2006)

-John Barbisan, Canada (Executive Producer, "Bitten," 2014 | Executive Producer, "Whistler," 2006)

-Amy Belling, Canada (Producer / DoP / Cam Op / Post Supervisor, Songs She Wrote About People She Knows, 2014, Toronto Iff 2014, Santa Barbara Iff 2015 | Producer / DoP / Cam Op / Post Super, Stress Position, 2013, Sci Fi London 2013, Las Vegas Ff 2013, Best Cinematography / Best Supporting Actor)

-Isaac Clements, Canada (Senior Production Executive, "The Pinkertons," 2014-15 | Production Executive, "Sunnyside,"2014-15 | Associate Producer, "Silent Night," 2012)

-Jeff Kopas, Canada (Producer / Director / Writer, "An Insignificant Harvey," 2011, Busan Iff 2012, Audience Award)

-Linda Ludwick, Canada (Exec. Producer/Producer: "Mohawk Girls Season 2," 2014, Yorkton Ff 2015, Banff Media Festival 2015 | Exec. Producer/Producer, "Smoke Traders," 2012, Yorkton Ff 2013 | Exec. Producer/Producer, "Reel Injun," 2009, 3 Gemini awards 2010 | Exec. Producer/Producer, "Moose TV," 2006, "Cfpta" 2008)

-Robyn Wiener, Canada (Producer, "Numb," 2015 | Producer, "Black Fly," 2014, Viff 2014 , Marché du Film Telefilm Perspective Canada Cannes 2015| Co-Producer / Line Producer, "Lawrence & Holoman," 2013, "Viff" 2013, Best Director | Co-Producer / Line Producer, "American Mary," 2012, London Fright Ff 2012)

American Producers

-Mollye Asher, USA (Producer, "Fort Tilden," 2015, SXSW 2014 Grand Jury Prize | Producer, "She's Lost Control," Independent Spirit Award Nominee 2015, Berlinale 2014 | Producer, "Songs My Brother Taught Me," 2015, Sundance 2015, Cannes 2015)

-Diane Houslin, USA (Producer, "Yelling to the Sky," 2011)

-Tommy Oliver, USA (Producer, 1982, 2015, Toronto Ff 2013, Austin Ff 2013, Marquee Audience Award | Producer, "The Perfect Guy," 2015 | Producer, "Kinyarwanda," 2011, Sundance Ff 2011, World Audience Award, AFI Fest 2011, Audience Award)

-Riel Roch Decter, USA (Producer, "The Wait," 2014, South by Southwest 2013, Deauville 2013 | Producer, "Bottled Up," 2014, Tribeca Film Festival 2013 | Producer, "Life After Death from Above 1979," 2014.

International Producers

-Vivek Kajaria, India (Producer, "Fandry," 2014, Indian Ff of La 2014, Grand Jury Prize Best Film, Fipresci India 2014, Film Critic Award Best Indian Film 2013 | Presenter, "Anumati," 2013, National Film Award for Best Actor 2013, New York Indian Ff 2013, Best Film Award | Producer, "Siddhant," 2015, Mumbai 2014)

-Ozcar Ramirez Gonzalez, Mexico (Producer, "Ciclo," 2013, DocsDF 2012, Vancouver Latino Iff 2013, Audience Award | Producer, "The Compass is Carried by the Dead Man," 2013, Tokyo Iff 2011, La Iff 2012 | Producer, "Days of Grace," 2012, Cannes Iff 2011, Guadalajara Iff 2012, Best Director, Best Score, Press Award)

-Lisa Shaunessy, Australia (Executive Producer, "Killing Ground," 2016 | Co-Producer, "Black & White & Sex," 2012, Iff Rotterdam 2012, Sydney Ff 2011, Best Experimental Film | Producer, "Hipsters," Sbs Australia, 2015)

Who is Jan Miller and how did she arrange such an organization?

It’s in Jan’s nature to look for opportunities to support the individual filmmaker, her local industry and work internationally as well. Most recently Jan served as an international consultant for the Canadian Media Production Association helping to develop their international strategy and contributing to Cmpa led delegations to Berlin and Rio de Janeiro. In March she led a delegation of 18 production companies to the Hk Filmart for Creative BC and Cmpa BC.

Jan divides her time on Tap, on international contracts, on teaching and on Wift-at.

How do you see the place of women in the film industry?

Recognizing that there was a real need in Atlantic Canada for women to come together and support, celebrate and learn from each other in the industry, I started Women in Film and Television - Atlantic which I headed up as Founding Chair and architect for six years. During this time I was working with a remarkable team to launch Women Making Waves an annual Conference that brings in the best female talent to offer master classes, panels, conversations and networking opportunities to men and women in the industry. I continue as one of the organization’s primary resources and mentors. And most recently, strongly believing that women in the industry need to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and business strategies, I worked with Mount Saint Vincent University’s Centre for Women in Business, to launch Wift-at’s first six month Advanced Management and Mentoring Program.

Can you explain your connection to the music business?

Close to a decade ago, I was approached by Canada’s vibrant east coast music industry to adapt my pitching workshop into a program that has become “export readiness for the music industry”... During this intensive workshop I work with artists, bands and managers to develop their communication and pitch skills to present their work to international music supervisors, festival programrs and tour managers in 1-2-1 meetings. It was a very steep learning curve, but I loved the challenge of redesigning her training to fit a new market.

Can you explain your connection to romance writers?

When the Music Export Readiness workshops took off, other disciplines began approaching me to ask if I could adapt her teaching for a workshop for Romance Writers wanting to pitch to potential film and TV producers and then theatre practitioners wanting to pitch their properties internationally. My un-designed career path came full circle!

How did you come into the film world?

I first came into the entertainment industry through my theatre troupe that performed clown and mask shows internationally for 10 years as one of Canada’s cultural calling cards. During this period I successfully auditioned for a short film and the seed was planted …

What do you do in Nova Scotia? (or What did you do?)

Amazingly I call home Nova Scotia. Living 40 feet from the ocean, I connect daily to the world and travel the world almost as often. I am an international resource for the local industry and mentor talent both for the short term and long term as the demand requires. My husband and I also breed standard poodles!

How would you sum up your “portfolio”?

I am an initiator, a passionate connector devoted to helping people do what they want to do well.
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