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George Miller

George Miller AO (3 March 1945) is an Australian film director, screenwriter, producer, and former medical doctor. He is best known for his Mad Max franchise, but has been involved in a wide range of projects. These include the Academy Award-winning Babe and Happy Feet film series.

Miller is co-founder of the production houses Kennedy Miller Mitchell, formerly known as Kennedy Miller, and Dr. D Studios. His younger brother Bill Miller and Doug Mitchell have been producers on almost all the films in Miller's later career, since the death of his original producing partner Byron Kennedy.

In 2006, Miller won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for Happy Feet. He has been nominated for three other Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay in 1992 for Lorenzo's Oil, and Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay in 1995 for Babe.

Early life

Miller was born in Brisbane, Queensland, to Greek immigrant parents: Dimitri (Jim) Castrisios Miller and Angela Balson. Dimitri was from the Greek island of Kythira, and anglicised his surname from Miliotis to Miller when he emigrated to Australia; the Balson family were Greek refugees from Anatolia. The couple married and settled in Chinchilla and had four sons: fraternal twins George and John, Chris, and Bill.

George attended Ipswich Grammar School and later Sydney Boys High School, then studied medicine at the University of New South Wales with his twin brother John. While in his final year at medical school (1971), George and his younger brother Chris made a one-minute short film that won them first prize in a student competition. In 1971, George attended a Film Workshop at Melbourne University where he met fellow student, Byron Kennedy, with whom he formed a lasting friendship and production partnership, until Kennedy's death in a helicopter crash in 1983. In 1972, Miller completed his residency at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, spending his time-off crewing on short experimental films. That same year, Miller and Kennedy founded Kennedy Miller Productions. The pair subsequently collaborated on numerous works. After Kennedy died in 1983, Miller kept his name in the company. It was later renamed Kennedy Miller Mitchell in 2009 as a way to recognize producer Doug Mitchell's role in the company.

Career

In 1979, Miller made his feature-length directorial debut with Mad Max. Based on a script written by Miller and James McCausland in 1975, the film was independently financed by Kennedy Miller Productions and went on to become an international success. As a result, the film spawned the Mad Max series with two further sequels starring Mel Gibson: Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).

During the time between the second and third Mad Max films, Miller directed a remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" as a segment for the 1983 anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also co-produced and co-directed many acclaimed miniseries for Australian television including The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984).

In 1987, Miller directed The Witches of Eastwick, starring Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film proved to be a troubling experience for Miller. "I quit the film twice and Jack [Nicholson] held me in there," said Miller. "He said just sit down, lose your emotion, and have a look at the work. If you think the work is good, stick with the film, and he was a great man. I learnt more from him than anybody else I think Iā€™d worked for ā€“ he was extraordinary."

Following The Witches of Eastwick, Miller focused primarily on producing Australian projects. His role as producer of Flirting, Dead Calm and the TV mini-series Bangkok Hilton and Vietnam, all starring Nicole Kidman, was instrumental in the development of her career.

Miller returned to directing with the 1992 release of Lorenzo's Oil, which he co-wrote with Nick Enright.

In 1993, Miller was hired to direct Contact based on the story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. After working on the film for over a year, Warner Bros. and Miller mutually agreed to part ways and Robert Zemeckis was eventually brought on to direct.

Miller also co-wrote the 1995 comedy-drama Babe and wrote and directed its 1998 sequel, Babe: Pig in the City.

Miller was also the creator of Happy Feet, a musical epic about the life of penguins in Antarctica. The Warner Bros. produced film was released in November 2006. As well as being a runaway box office success, Happy Feet has also brought Miller his third Academy Award nomination, and his first win in the category of Best Animated Feature.

In 2007, Miller signed on to direct a Justice League film titled Justice League: Mortal. While production was initially held up due to the 2007ā€“08 Writers Guild of America strike, further production delays and the success of The Dark Knight led to Warner Bros. deciding to put the film on hold and pursue different options.

In 2011, the Happy Feet sequel Happy Feet Two was released. The following year, Miller began principal photography on Mad Max: Fury Road after several years of production delays. As the fourth film in the Mad Max series, the film was released on 15 May, 2015.

Dr. D Studios

Dr. D Studios was a Sydney-based digital animation studio founded in mid-2007 as a partnership between Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Omnilab Media. Following the financially unsuccessful release of Happy Feet Two and the long delay of Mad Max: Fury Road, the studio closed down in 2013.

Personal life

Miller was married to actress Sandy Gore; they have a daughter Augusta. He married film editor Margaret Sixel in 1995; they have two sons. While the two initially met during the production of Flirting, Sixel has since worked on all of Miller's directorial efforts in some capacity.

Miller is the Patron of the Australian Film Institute and the BIFF (Brisbane International Film Festival) and a co-patron of the Sydney Film Festival. He has said on multiple occasions that Pinocchio is one of his favorite movies.