Two lonely business-class people fall in love. They don’t meet on the Internet or at a party, but in a free-fall suicidal jump from the heights of a Vancouver skyscraper.
This is the original and ingenious fresh angle on one of humanity’s oldest stories — the classic man meets woman — in Coquitlam native Alan Miller’s short film, In Passing, which screens Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
In a phone interview, Miller said he spawned the concept “from a desire to make something that felt … old and try and make it new and different.” In his pursuits to make a picture that was state-of-the art, though, he drew heavily from some of cinema’s oldest films, dialing all the way back to the silent period.
Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and especially a “great movie” (Never Weaken) he found after writing the first draft “really inspired some changes and were all strong influences on the final product.
His 10-minute movie is quirky and lighthearted in capturing the essence of life, love and death, all through the scope of two people’s final and very brief moments (if it weren’t shot in its elegant slow-motion, this short would have been really short). The local director has made an ode to visual storytelling that has no dialogue; it is simply raw and pure cinema.
Miller was born and raised in Coquitlam, where he attended Como Lake Middle School and Centennial Secondary. It was during grade school that he had a revelation — although he never thought being a filmmaker was a viable option for a career path he became engrossed in the medium, often running around Mundy and Blue Mountain parks shooting amateur movies with friends.
His journey really began earlier, however, with a confrontation with one of his “great teachers at Como Lake,” where Miller would soon have an iMac and digital camera at his disposal.
“One of my teachers — I was being disruptive — so he gave me the camera and told me to go out and make a year-end yearbook video,” he recounted. “I think that was the first time I ever got to play with a camera and editing system.”
After graduating from high school, Miller “caught the bug” by studying film at the University of Victoria while getting his undergraduate degree in English literature. Following graduation, he recalled that film “felt like something I really had to pursue, for real.” His passion led him to the University of Southern California, to its school of cinematic arts to seek out an MFA in film production. He graduated in May, and In Passing was his graduate thesis.
Fresh out of school and showing great ambition, Miller will continue to try and make a career out of being a filmmaker. “I plan on staying … in LA until the government kicks me out” he said jokingly. “I’m hoping to just keep directing and getting the chance to tell stories.”
Miller is a potential local talent to look out for in the future. His ultimate plan is to release feature films. He has already begun the process to achieve this goal; the script is being written and the project is trying to get off of the ground.
Joshua Cabrita is a Grade 12 student at Riverside Secondary. He is a founding member of the school's movie club, where students meet to view old classics and discuss their meaning and significance. One of his audacious dreams is to become a full-time professional film critic. Visit Josh on Facebook for any reviews you missed or film analysis video essays.
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