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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Stage play to screenplay: Local director set to debut new film

The stage play originally debuted in Gainesville in 2018

A publicity photo of Tom Miller’s movie, "Audience."
A publicity photo of Tom Miller’s movie, "Audience."

For Tom Miller, creativity has always been his solution to adversity. With multiple acting, performing and directing credits to his name, the 57-year-old continues to push artistic boundaries.

The multidisciplinary performance artist is setting the stage to debut his newest film, “Audience.” Miller has kept the plot of the film under wraps to surprise audiences. 

The movie will be shown in local Gainesville venues within this year. 

While no showings have been announced at this time, the film has wrapped post-production. Miller plans to send “Audience” to film festivals following the local showings.

“Audience” is based on a stage play of the same name originally written by Miller in 2018. The play debuted in the Blank Sl8 in downtown Gainesville in December 2018 and was also shown at the Hardback Café and The Acrosstown. 

Miller and some of the actors from the play continued to talk about a future for the stage play after the show closed. Now, the show is only becoming more relevant, he said.

“Everything is so upside down right now in the world that it's hard to find where to put our feet in terms of how we treat each other with compassion, empathy and manners,” Miller said. 

Miller hopes the film will hold a mirror to society and serve as a call to action to embrace love over fear.

The film was produced in collaboration with Mirador Studios, a local video production company owned by 54-year-old Gainesville resident Alexander Davidowski. 

The two long-time friends have worked on projects together in the past. When Miller started working on editing “Audience” as a screenplay, Davidowski’s involvement in the film was natural, Davidowski said.

Operating on a smaller budget than usual and working with Miller’s hands-on editing style were new experiences for Davidowski. Typically, a video editor will put everything together, pass it to the director and pass notes and revisions back and forth. For “Audience”, Miller and Davidowski edited together. 

“[Miller wanted] to experiment and be creative with it and do crazy things that you wouldn't normally do,” Davidowski said. “Somehow, the soup mixes together, and it comes out really cool.” 

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Most of the original cast from the stage play returned for the filming of the movie including Shamrock McShane, who plays the male lead Snerdly.

McShane’s acting career began in 1970s Chicago, where he had some success as an actor before he moved to Key West and owned his own theatre there. He eventually moved to Gainesville in 1983 and worked as a teacher while also being involved in local theatre. 

McShane has been friends with Miller since the late 2000s, he said. They have worked together on projects before, including “The Seven Sides of Shakespeare” in 2021. 

Being part of a play that developed into a film was a new experience for McShane. 

“It was a fascinating experience for me to do both of them and to see how one was based on the other, and then, through a kind of metamorphosis, it turned into something entirely different,” McShane said. 

The Usher, a role originally played by Miller himself, had to be recast so he could focus on directing when he started preparing for filming.  

On a random night at University Club, Miller met Olive Isa, a 51-year-old retired veteran.

Isa and their friends would visit University Club a couple times a month. On this occasion, Isa had just finished singing karaoke of Sweet Transvestite from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, when they were approached by Miller. 

“As soon as that was done, he came over to me, and he said something to the effect of ‘I’m not sure if you’re going to believe me, but I’d like for you to be in a movie I’m making,’” Isa said. 

Before “Audience,” Isa had no acting experience. They were mindblown after they witnessed the scope and range of acting skills from other actors in the cast, they said. 

Isa was also impressed by Miller’s directing, as it wasn’t what they expected going into filming. 

“He didn't push much toward directions with people,” Isa said. “He just let them go with what they wanted at least first. He might give them a little bit of direction after a take or two, but it was fun to watch him let other people play their character how they saw them.” 

Now that the film has completed the post-production process, Miller looks to announce showings of the film soon through his Instagram

Contact Gracey at Follow her on Twitter @graceydavis_.

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Gracey Davis

Gracey Davis is a UF journalism junior and Avenue staff writer. Gracey is a self-described girl boss, secretary for FMSA and a passionate Philly sports fan. If you're looking for her, try the Marston basement, where she often pretends she's a STEM major. 

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