Jim Miller ’85 began his film career reading lines with Kevin Costner as a casting assistant on the classic baseball movie “Bull Durham,” but his passion for social justice took him away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood. He now produces documentaries on issues like gun violence, immigration and sexual misconduct.
Miller is the executive director of Brave New Films, a nonprofit film studio that works toward social change. In that position, he helps raise funds, produce films and connect with social justice-oriented organizations to see how the studio can help them achieve their goals using narrative content.
He has produced a number of feature-length documentaries, including “Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA,” “Koch Brothers Exposed,” “War on Whistleblowers” and “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.” In Miller’s estimation, such films — as well as the shorter videos Brave New Films also produces — can make a real change in the world.
“I think that when you have six or seven million people viewing something with specific messaging and goals, and you have a place for people to go to at the end of the video to learn more, or have a specific action that you would like them to take, it’s helpful in shifting policy,” he said.
Miller was introduced to the power of social justice in the 1980s at Ithaca College, where students and faculty active in the anti-Apartheid movement were calling on the college to divest from companies operating in South Africa. (By 1989 IC had fully divested from companies with investments in South Africa). “That was probably the first thing that I was involved with protesting,” he said.