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Barton Creek Country Club book event 9.20.2018

3 Oct

James White and I spoke to members of the Barton Creek Country Sept. 20, 2018 about the Broken Spoke and signed copies of my book while Ben Stafford Rodgers performed a few classic country songs. Jenny Wren, co-producer of the 2016 documentary, Honky Tonk Heaven: The Legend of the Broken Spoke, also talked about the film and sold copies of the DVD. Marianna Dydek with Barton Creek Country Club organized our talk.

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Rotary Club of Austin book talk 8.14.2018

16 Aug

James White and I talked about the Broken Spoke for members the Rotary Club of Austin Aug. 14, 2018 following their regularly scheduled luncheon at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 301 E. 8th Street in Austin. Ben Stafford Rodgers also sang a few classic country songs. Afterwards we sold and signed books.

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The “Outlaws & Armadillos” exhibit opened 5.25.2018

21 May

 

Attending the “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s” exhibit May 24-27, 2018 at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville  proved to be the highlight of my whirlwind year as the first-time author of a book written about one of the greatest honky-tonks in Texas history.

My book, The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk, published in 2017 by Texas A&M University Press, will be a part of the exhibit for the next three years!

The concert in the CMA theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame May 25th included several stars: Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Joe Ely, Michael Martin Murphey, Gary P. Nunn, Delbert McClinton, Kimmie Rhodes, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Tanya Tucker, Jack Ingram, Jason Boland, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Jamey Johnson, and Gary P. Nunn. It definitely tops the list of my all-time favorite concerts.

 

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Read all about the exhibit’s calendar of events through 2021 by following this link: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/calendar/event/countrys-roaring-70s-outlaws-armadillos-exhibit-opening-concert#.WwMmVxQczLc

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Signing at the Dallas Historical Society fundraising gala 4.14.2018

18 Apr

The Dallas Historical Society hosted a fundraising gala April 14, 2018 inside the Hall of State at 3939 Grand Avenue, in Dallas featuring Austin Broken Spoke owners James and Annetta White, filmmakers Brenda Mitchell and Jenny Wren, singer and guitarist Ben Stafford Rodgers and myself as well as the band Eleven Hundred Springs as entertainment. We signed copies of my 2017 book, The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk and screened the 2016 documentary, Honky Tonk Heaven: The Legend of the Broken Spoke. Organizers for the event were Molly Nolan and Jeni Baldwin.

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Waterloo Records book signing Nov. 6, 2017

2 Jan

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Texas Book Festival Nov. 4, 2017

2 Jan

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My LIVE interview with Dear Texas Radio

23 Oct

DMMiller book cover for launch 4-22-2017Please listen to the recording of my LIVE interview by Dear Texas Radio host Roxanne Burkey at 7 p.m. (Central Time Zone) Tuesday Oct. 24, 2017.  

I discussed my book, The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk, published by Texas A&M University Press. (John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas Music, sponsored by the Center for Texas)

James and Annetta White opened the Broken Spoke in 1964, then a mile south of the Austin city limits, under a massive live oak, and beside what would eventually become South Lamar Boulevard. White built the place himself, beginning construction on the day he received his honorable discharge from the US Army. And for more than fifty years, the Broken Spoke has served up, in the words of White’s well-worn opening speech, “. . . cold beer, good whiskey, the best chicken fried steak in town . . . and good country music.”

LINK: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/deartexas/2017/10/25/dear-texas-radio-show-176-with-donna-marie-miller

 

I’ll be speaking at the Texas Book Festival

23 Oct

DMMiller book cover for launch 4-22-2017Please come out to the Texas Book Festival to hear me speak on a panel inside the Texas Tent located near the 700 block of S. Congress in Austin at 11 a.m. Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. Cari Clark will moderate. Here’s the LINK:

http://www.texasbookfestival.org/festival-schedule/?selected_day=2&view=accordion 

“The Good Old Sound Of Austin” panel
Location: inside the Texas Tent, near 700 S. Congress
Followed by book signing: inside the Main Book Signing Tent (approximately at Congress near 10th Street)
Adult biography/historical genre

Authors:
Donna Marie Miller
Jesse Sublett
Eddie Wilson
BOOKS ABOUT TEXAS MUSIC
11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
How did a sleepy college town and state capital become known as the Live Music Capital of the World? In 1964, James White was searching for the best place for a big country western dance hall where his hero Bob Wills could play. In the summer of 1970, Eddie O. Wilson searched for a music hall where hippies could go to dig psychedelic art, culture and music. The results of their search: The Broken Spoke and Armadillo World Headquarters. Legendary musician and author Jesse Sublett and co-author Eddie Wilson (Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir) sit down with James White, owner of the Broken Spoke, and author Donna Marie Miller (The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk) to talk about the history and evolution of Austin’s live music scene.

Moderator: Cari Clark

Donna Marie Miller, author of The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk, published by TAMU Press; Jesse Sublett, co-author of Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir by Eddie Wilson

 

 

My article about TV show ‘Preacher’ posts to Creative Screenwriting magazine

19 Jun

Actor and executive producer Seth Rogen (Superbad and Pineapple Express) and show runner Sam Catlin (Breaking Bad) did what fans of the comic book series Preacher thought impossible. They adapted Garth Ennis’s comic for the small screen and created season one as a prequel to Garth’s storyline on AMC. Season two airs on the AMC network tonight, June 19.

The show stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, a man possessed by a hybrid angel/demon, and his volatile hell-raising girlfriend Tulip O’Hare, played by award-winning actress Ruth Negga.

The writers crammed a lot of craziness, fire and brimstone into the first season. And this looks set to continue in season two, as the cast embarks on a road trip to find God.

Speaking at the SXSW 2017 “Making of Preacher” interview session hosted by Terri Schwartz, Seth Rogen, Sam Catlin and Garth Ennis discussed trusting your instinct, knowing where to draw the line, and translating the ideas in your head.

Schwartz: Welcome back to SXSW. You guys premiered the Preacher pilot here last year, right?

Rogen: Yeah, one year ago we showed the pilot here, and it was one of the most stressful days of my life. But it went well. Thank God we’re back.

What was the moment when you realized “Ok, this is how we can bring this to life in a way that no one has done before?”

Rogen: The truth is, we pursued it for years. The first meeting Evan and I had for Preacher was in our trailer while we were filming Pineapple Express in 2006. Then television went from being like the thing you watch on Thursday nights to like an amazing platform to do incredibly innovative things that you probably couldn’t even do in movies..

Ennis: A lot of executives who were further down the ladder the first time around, who were desperately trying to persuade their bosses that Preacher would work and it was the way to go, all of a sudden found themselves a bit higher up the ladder. And they were now able to say “This is the thing to do…Its time has come.”

Sam, you once described the comic as “profane, perverse and psychotic.” Did you break boundaries for the sake of breaking boundaries?

Rogen: I don’t think you ever want to do something just for the sake of doing that thing. We wanted a show that was audacious. I think when you’re reading the comics there are a lot of things that just can’t believe you’re seeing, you can’t believe you’re reading. You just can’t believe the story’s going in that direction. Those were things that we really wanted to have in the show.

When something is potentially on for years and years, it really has to have some emotional grounding, so it can never feel like you’re doing anything for the sake of doing it. It always has to feel like it’s born of character and story and emotion.

But once we feel like we have that, then we like to try to push it to the most original place that we can. Because there is so much on TV right now, originality is one of the beacons that calls people.

There are a lot of great things on TV right now, but there’s not a lot of great things that you’ve also never seen anything like them before. And that’s what we’ve talked a lot about trying to do.

Garth, what are your thoughts on some of the changes that were made?

Ennis: I think they made sense out of things in the comics that are just taken as given. I like the way that I can see that Jesse’s life as a preacher has grown over time. I like the fact that reasons are given for Tulip and Cassidy to be there, rather than just being coincidence.

In the comic book, everyone meets up by chance. I think I was just trying to get it rolling as fast as I possibly could. And also, I was 24 when I wrote that stuff. When you’re 24 you’re just thinking, “Let’s get on with it.”

On the show you’re going to need much more material. So it’s obvious there are going to be new things; there are going to be changes. I think they’ve come up with the right ones.

You set up many mysteries in season one. Did you have to stop yourselves from including too many?

Rogen: I think the first season deals with a lot with Jesse’s father’s side of the family. I think in season two we start to ask the question, “what was his mother’s side of the family like?”

How did you develop God as a character for season 2?

Catlin: It’s very challenging, because in Preacher God isn’t an idea, he’s not a way of looking at life; he’s a guy who’s out walking around. He’s missing and Jesse’s gonna be on his trail.

Have you guys received any notes from AMC telling you to lean away from some of these elements?

Rogen: We have not received a lot of that, honestly. They want the show to be good and they want it to represent what we all set out to make in the first place. We’ve had a couple of ideas that required like maybe a 10-minute phone call…But I do not feel like we are neutering our ideas, or holding back on the content that we want to be putting out there. If anything I’m shocked we are able to push it as far as we do.

Garth what has been your response to seeing some of these scenes coming to life, and knowing that some of the more controversial things are coming down the road?

Ennis: When we did the comic it was more by stealth. The imprint of DC Comics who did it—at Vertigo—had very sympathetic people in charge, but the actual publishers, the actual executives in charge of DC Comics overall, were not sympathetic. We got as far as we did by stealth, not by meaning to, but by not getting noticed by the wrong people. Now the right people are in charge, and that’s why the TV show is able to go as far as it can.

Do any of you have any concepts that you’d love to bring to life if you didn’t have to worry about backlash or limitations?

Ennis: Ninety percent of what I do is done without any restrictions but my own. In fact, in a couple of instances I’ve written stories where I’ve run into my own limits before I run into those of the publishers.

Rogen: Something I learned years ago is that the idea that you’re joking about between takes, when you say “no, we can’t do that,” that’s exactly what we should be doing. That’s the type of thing that people will really respond to. I’ve seen that happen first-hand, where there have been jokes between takes, and I’ve said, “You know what would be funny? If one of us said this: but that would be just too fucked up.” Then one of the other actors just says it the next day and it winds up in the movie, and being the line that people think we thought of for years and year and years.

If your instinct is “we can’t do that, but it would be really good to do that,” then you should do that.

Audience Member: How do you know where to draw the line?

Rogen: You’re asking a guy who almost started a war with North Korea! [The Interview in 2012.]

I guess you know I’m not the best person for knowing where that line is. I’ve found that you don’t know where the line is until you look back, and think “oh, that’s where the line was—a thousand miles back there?” Yeah, the line is not a deal. We talk more about, “Will the audience get this?” Or, “Have we done the work we need to do to translate this idea from our brains into the eyes and ears of an audience?” That’s what I think we do the most.

It’s almost like translating. The challenge has been taking into consideration every way they might not interpret it correctly, and taking into consideration every way that you might not do your job correctly in making them understand this thing that you want them to understand

But to me there is no idea that is not explorable. There’s only the limits of your abilities to articulate why you feel it’s an idea worth exploring, and articulate why you think the audience should be listening to your take on this specific idea.

Ennis: I would say when you’re talking about creativity, start with where you want to get to, and worry about the rest later. Because when you try to get published, or when you try to get your film distributed or whatever it is you’re doing, you’ll find out pretty soon where the limits are then. But you shouldn’t be thinking about that when you’re putting a story together.

There’ll be plenty of time to have people tell you “no.” But in the beginning, do what you want.

Please also read my article and see my photos on Creative Screenwriting’s website at:

https://creativescreenwriting.com/preacher/

My story about the Texas Film Awards posts to Creative Screenwriting magazine

20 Apr

It is a golden age not only for television but also for independent films. At least, it is according to the Austin Film Society’s founder and artistic director Richard Linklater, speaking at the press conference for the 2017 Texas Film Awards.

At the panel of this year’s Hall of Fame Honorees, Richard Linklater, together with Honorees Hector Galan (Children of Giant), Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse), Jeff Nichols (Loving), and producer Sarah Green (Midnight Special), discussed a wide range of issues related to filmmaking and screenwriting.

Creative Screenwriting was fortunate enough to attend.

Sarah Green kicked off the panel with a discussion about her work on Song to Song with Terrence Malick.
Green: It’s about sex and drugs and rock and roll. There’s this just unbelievable young kid named Ryan Gosling, you’ll like him. Rooney Mara – she’s incredible. Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop – there’s so many – Bérénice Marlohe, Val Kilmer…It kind of just goes on and on. The Black Lips, the Red Hot Chili Peppers – some of these are performing and some are interacting with other actors.

Jeff Nichols then talked about his Oscar-nominated film, Loving.
Nichols: It wasn’t until I got behind the curtain with Loving, that I realized just how far away all my other films were from ever being considered in that world.

And that was illuminating for a lot of reasons.
And Tye Sheridan talked about his new movie, Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg and due to be released in 2018.
Sheridan: The film is based on a sci-fi novel written by Ernest Cline. It takes place in the future. And when I read it I just thought “wow, it’s such an honest depiction of where we’re headed in our world right now. It’s the technology and the kids playing video games – that social world.”

If you work in film, it’s everyone’s dream-come-true to work with Steven Spielberg. I was working with the best of the best.

Talking next about funding, Green said that more companies such as Amazon, HBO, and Netflix are providing funding for movies.

Green: More is better when it comes to financing opportunities. We want every opportunity we can get, and then it’s a question of “what’s the best distribution company for that particular movie, that will get it seen more on television, that will get it seen more in the theaters?” I love that there are more opportunities.

However, panel moderator Steven Gaydos said that a gulf still exists in Hollywood between large budget studios, and mid-level independent or specialty film companies.
Linklater: It’s excruciating to talk about, but I think it’s kind of true. But with that said, we’re sitting here with a guy who got that rare film made – and I’m talking about Jeff NicholsMidnight Special.

Nichols: I feel like I live in a bit of bubble though, because I’m a rare exception in the year 2016 to get a film like Midnight Special released. So I know my experience is unique. It took somebody at the top to reach down literally and give me that opportunity.

That’s what’s so great about Rick’s [Richard Linklater’s] career. I use it as a model because he’s been able to move back and forth between those worlds. He seems to be having fun in all of them.
Linklater: I think you have to be really practical in your approach. You know, it’s storytelling. You ask “what does this story need?” Well if it’s a period film it needs a bigger budget, so I’ll try to take this one to the studio. Or if this one’s a really intimate little story, let’s just keep that at home.

I think a filmmaker gets into trouble when they take that personal indie film and get a huge budget – that’s where careers go off the rails. So, you have to just be humble and try to not to spend any more than you have to.

It’s the golden age of television, but if you really think about it, it’s also the golden age of documentaries, you know? I think that’s clear. And if you really think about it, it’s the golden age of indie cinema.

Take the Oscars and the recent recognition for a film like Moonlight. If it had come out in 1985, back then indie films didn’t hit the mainstream awards shows. A couple did: there were nominations for John Pierson [who produced some of Linklater’s first films, along with those created by Spike Lee, Michael Moore and Kevin Smith]. But it was weird for an indie film to break through at that time or to receive recognition.

Green: It also matters how much they’re spinning it, how they’re releasing it. It’s not just about the most money, but it’s about the money that’s spent, and how much they can put behind it, and whether they actually know how to release a film of a certain type.
Galan said Latinos have become one of the most under-represented ethnicities in American cinema today.
Galan: There are more Latinos in America than there are Canadians in Canada. But you just don’t see that represented on the big screen, even on the small screen, to the degree that reflects the population.

It’s true that a lot of people look at us in LA as gardeners, maids and people who take care of babies. It’s real complex because we do have Spanish-language networks. So, some of us speak Spanish and some of us don’t. It’s very very complex.

When there are a 25 million eligible Latino voters in a 54 million population, with 18,000 Latinos turning 18 every month in this country, there’s still a lot of representation that needs to happen.

A member of the audience asked Linklater if he knew what might happen to The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, that has provided incentives for filmmakers to make their movies in Texas since 2005, but is now at risk.

Linklater: I just shot a film [Last Flag Flying] in Pittsburgh. So it’s a real issue, but I think there’s some hope to getting us back to where we were.

And we’re a good industry. We moviemakers bring hundreds of millions of dollars in to Texas, we bring in the jobs, clean industry and that’s just the business.

But I worry more about the cultural representation. If you tell Texas stories you’ve got to tell them in Texas. It’s kind of sad; last year, Hell or High Water, a story set in West Texas, was shot, as the producers for the movie have said, “as close to Texas as we could.” They shot it in New Mexico.

We would feel a lot differently about The Last Picture Show, if they had shot that in Colorado. So culturally, for our own stories, our own borders are important.
When a member of the audience asked what the future holds for documentarians, Galan responded with an impassioned plea to filmmakers to tell the stories of undocumented immigrants in Texas affected by raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Galan: Now is really an important time for documentary work. At one time, people were predicting the death of the documentary. I think today it’s more important than ever, especially for us Latinos.

I have so many friends out there right now who are hiding, people that I know. It’s like when I was in Germany – and I’m kind of telling you some history – but I would go to Munich or Heidelberg or some of those places in Germany that were still standing after the bombings in World War II. I imagined what it must have been like for those people hiding and knowing that the Nazis were coming for them. That’s happening now. A lot of people don’t know.

People are afraid to go out of their homes. People need to report on this and the division that is happening.

Finally, this reporter for Creative Screenwriting magazine asked Green what the future holds for women screenwriters and filmmakers.

Green: It’s our responsibility as producers, and the studios’ responsibilities as financiers, and everyone’s responsibility, to ensure that all voices are heard.

Whether it’s people of color, whether it’s different genders, whatever those stories we need to be telling are, we need to make sure that we are training those people, that we are providing those opportunities.

Please also see my story posted on Creative Screenwriting magazine’s website at:

https://creativescreenwriting.com/texas-film-awards/

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