30 January 2010

The War Within - a film by Kevin P. Miller - Part One

Kevin P. Miller produced "The War Within" in 1992, following the success of his inaugural documentary, "The Promised Land." Part One of this film on race relations reflects Miller's love and admiration for the Indian people as he traces the roots of racism in the US. This early work displays some of the writing and producing talents that led Miller to direct "Let Truth Be The Bias" - "We Become Silent," and most recently, "Generation RX."

18 January 2010


“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

TO THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW ME or my work, it’s common knowledge that I admire Martin Luther King, Jr. immensely. He was front-and-center in my documentary on race relations called THE WAR WITHIN and the driving force behind my comparative analysis of the Civil Rights movement and the Health Freedom movement in LET TRUTH BE THE BIAS. In 2005 he appeared in my documentary WE BECOME SILENT, a film about Codex Alimentarius that was narrated by the internationally revered actress, Dame Judi Dench.

As it happens so often with artists, the title for WE BECOME SILENT came as an inspiration in the middle of the night. It was 3:00 a.m., I believe, and I was in the midst of 17-20 hour days worth of editing — and determined to produce an honest film about the dangers of Codex and the deleterious effects of “free trade.” As I began to doze deeper into my well-earned slumber, I heard Dr. King’s voice say, “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.”

Spaced out and disoriented, I sat straight up in bed. The words I heard the strongest were "we become silent," and a few hours later, after at least one cup of coffee, I discerned that these three words would make a great title for the film. They had been whispered to me in the middle of the night because they directly correlated to the scheming of governments, big business, bureaucrats and other dirty dealers who incessantly try to assert their will over the rest of us. Their collective goal is to eliminate medical freedom of choice and to keep the status quo in tact. Then — as now — they wanted us to simply shut up. With the FDA ‘walking point,’ they tried mightily to achieve their monopolistic goals through regulations, by banning health books from health food stores, through ridiculous undercover sting operations and guns-draw raids at holistic clinics, and yes, even through legislative means.

So once again — in the middle of the night — Dr. King played a role in my professional and personal life by helping to align my values and to put the struggle for medical freedom of choice into perspective. People loved the title WE BECOME SILENT, so it is only fitting to give credit where credit is due.

On this day, we should also humbly acknowledge that there is much more work to do.

I am reminded of something that occurred during a screening of LET TRUTH BE THE BIAS in 1994. There’s a scene in the documentary where hordes of armed policemen—with batons at the ready and with the strength of a football team pushing a blocking ‘sled’ — thrust dozens of African Americans backwards. Elderly men, women and children are forced to the ground—and are trampled in the ensuing melee. While this scene was playing out, I heard someone comment rather loudly, “Hey, this guy must be a liberal” — as if showing the struggle for basic human rights was somehow a liberal issue.

The comment from my countryman made me chortle, albeit sadly.

As a humanistic writer, I have often been compelled to take the path less traveled — to follow my innate sense of right and wrong. As one who vividly recalls the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, I can say categorically that many of the ideals he put forth during his short time on this planet are indelibly branded into my heart and soul.

Those same ideals of dignity and personal sovereignty apply to the health freedom movement also, and we should all honor Dr. King for blazing a peaceful trail to positive change. We can learn from not only his courage in challenging injustices, but from his unyielding vision of equality.

“Life's most persistent and urgent question,” said Dr. King, “is, 'What are you doing for others?'”

Amen, Reverend Dr. King. Amen. Your words are an inspiration — on any day.

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11 January 2010


I’LL NEVER FORGET a conversation I had with a TV executive back in the early 90s when I was approached to produce what ultimately became my film called The Promised Land.

A TV anchorman had recommended my work to this broadcast company after emceeing a fundraising luncheon for the Cleveland Foodbank. There, he saw my short film Praying for Food and became introduced to my work for the very first time. This mini-documentary was designed to help raise the Foodbank’s visibility after dismal decreases in food and financial donations during the early years of the first Bush presidency. The anchorman told execs that he believed that I might be able to help the network with their own Holiday campaign — which had also performed poorly in the previous three years — by producing a documentary about the homeless.

Eventually I was sitting in the office of this powerful TV executive, listening as he cautiously extolled the virtues of my work. It was 1990; I had one small son and was soon to have another on the way. I had just begun my documentary work a few years prior after a brief stint in the music business and many years of studying journalism.

During this unusual 20 minute conversation, the man’s eyes rarely met mine. After listening diligently, I finally asked, “How much are you offering?”

“Well, we have $900 in this budget,” he said while pointing to a popular morning TV program on his programming sheet. “It’s the end of the year and I’m sorry to say that this is all we have.”

“This is not what the wife is going to want to hear,” I thought to myself. I wondered how, just-how in the WORLD I could accept this job. Since my then-wife was at home caring for our first-born — and I had just struck out on my own after years working for an old high school buddy — I was definitely hurting financially. With a newborn to boot... well, let’s just say that I was less than thrilled. He had me hook, line, and sinker on the subject of producing a film about the homeless. But $900? Not only could I not afford to produce this film, but I feared that my wife would kill me if I came home with this 'offer' after months of lying far-too-low to the earth.

The exec saw that I was wavering. “If things go well,” he promised, “I will guarantee that you will be named the Producer of our next big documentary. You have my word on it,” he said. As his eyes finally locked in on mine, he added, “We really need to turn this charity around, and we think you are the man to do it.”

Still conflicted, I stared at one of the studio monitors in his office for a few moments.“I’ll do it on one other condition,” I said while locking on his eyes. “And this is non-negotiable. I want this to air in prime time.”

“Oooh. . .umm. . .that will be difficult,” he stammered. “Hmmm. Let me see what I can do.”

The next day he phoned me to explain the economics of prime time TV — and how much money they would lose if they programmed my documentary at 9 or 9:30 on a weeknight. “Well, you’re saving a helluva lot of money on me,” I told him.

“True, but no one watches things like this in prime time. There is no way that we can get viewers to watch a program like this in prime time,” said the executive.

“Nonsense,” I countered. “Just watch. Anyway, those are my terms. Take it or leave it.”

Seemingly begrudgingly, he accepted, and I immediately began five weeks worth of non-stop madness — for $900. Well, not actually $900…because I paid my friend Henry $250 to shoot a few hours of additional footage — and paid a local composer a grand total of $500 for an outstanding musical score. Each of them only agreed because they knew that I was only making $150 for five weeks of work — and they felt sorry for me. They just knew I was catching Hell at home — and they were right.

That incident started a running battle with commercial television that is still ongoing. The Promised Land won a slew of regional Emmy’s, was nominated for a national Emmy award, and captured an International Film & TV award in the category of International TV Programming from the N/Y. International Film & Televisional Festival. More importantly, it proved my assertion that important programming about vital issues could not only attract and hold viewers — but could motivate them to action as well.

The Promised Land was the highest-ranking TV program in its’ time slot and raised nearly $500,000 in its’ first showing alone — and $1,000,000 total. As a bonus, I was able to read the thoughts of real viewers who scribbled notes on hotel memo pads and notebook paper and sent them in with their donations, which went directly to transitional housing and job training for the homeless.

When I read the notes, which came in by the hundreds, I cried like a baby. It taught me to believe in my instincts — and to believe in the humanity of humanity. There was a businessman from Chicago writing from the Holiday Inn downtown, an elderly woman on a fixed income who sent a tattered $5 bill with the note “I wish I could do more,” and six poor families from the East side of Cleveland who pooled their money and contributed $100 for their brothers and sisters because “there but for the Grace of God go I.”

I still get chills when I think of that one.

It proved — once and for all — that the TV execs were wrong — DEAD wrong — when they said that no one would watch, and that certainly no one would donate, except for the few bleeding hearts. People bombarded the phone lines with a fury never seen before — so much so that the network decided to air the program in 20+ other cities.

SO, ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, when I turn on the television and actually find something worth watching, I recall those early days when I believed in the craft so much that I staked my family’s welfare on my God-given abilities to produce documentaries.

Twenty years later, I realize the sacrifices I made for the good of "the all" — and I am still sacrificing. Twenty years later, I am still trying to live a principled life.

Too much of what we see — too much of what we support — pales in the light of the brilliant observation Edward R. Murrow made about television a half century ago. “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, and yes, it can even inspire,” he said. “But it can only do so to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely lights and wires in a box."

Whether or not I continue to produce films, I will never forget his words — nor the time I created an International award winning documentary for 900 bucks.

Because twenty years later, despite the fact that the TV exec broke his vow to me, I realize that I was the person who profited most. For, when given the chance, I helped raise $1 million for the homeless — in just one city. And that's just where the blessings started.

In view of today’s sophomoric and sleazy prime-time lineups, full of their reality TV and mindless nonsense, I have done my best to teach, illuminate, and yes, even inspire. I have put those “lights and wires in a box” to good use.

Perhaps Murrow would be proud.

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08 January 2010


How To Be a Truthteller? That is the the question Kevin P. Miller will be answering at next month's 8th Annual Conscious Life Expo at the L.A. Airport Hilton on Saturday, February 13th.

Whether one is committed to tackling poverty and the homeless, the inequity of healthcare, or multinational corporations whose desire for profit threatens us all, the need for action is omnipresent. Society seems ‘immunized’ from the truth by journalists, and what remains are the confused masses, unaware of the machinations of medicine and government. So how are to we discern what is truth? Writer/director Kevin P. Miller will share the techniques he uses to challenge corporations, medicine and government. He will show you how he defined his own niche in the course of his 20-year odyssey as a humanistic, socially conscious filmmaker — and will help empower you to take action in your own life.

A General Workshop ticket is required for entry to the lecture. These workshops are $20 for advance purchase and $25 at the door. This year's Conscious Life Expo will feature Ram Dass, George Noory of Coast to Coast AM, renowned astrologer Susan Miller, former NASA Consultant Richard C. Hoagland, Judith Orloff MD, scholar, philosopher and researcher Dr. Jean Houston, and many more.

For more information about attending the 8th Annual Conscious Life Expo, please go to: http://www.consciouslifeexpo.com/index.html

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02 January 2010

LOOKING FOR TRUTH — revisiting a short film by KEVIN P. MILLER

A few years back, I rushed to create this short video in order to help inform people about a vital Naturopathic licensing bill introduced in the state of Florida. Unfortunately, the Bill was defeated, and further highlighted the real need for what I call "medical freedom of choice" in America. It should not be controversial — or even debatable — that we inherited these basic rights at the time of our birth... yet this is where we find ourselves.