Jeff Miller, a graduate of Brookland-Cayce High School and later, the University of South Carolina, made his debut as a producer on the 1995 horror film “Freakshow,” before co-writing and producing “Hellblock 13.” Since then he’s produced such films as “The Burning Dead” starring Danny Trejo and “Kill ‘em All” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Hot on the heels of recent projects “The Toybox” and “Ouija House,” Miller serves up what’s unarguably one of his most ambitious projects to date – a “Death Wish”-esque action-thriller (called “Death Kiss!”) starring a Charles Bronson-look-alike!

Jeff recently discussed his experiences producing films via an exclusive interview on September 19, 2018.

Movies, producing, and plot

Meagan Meehan (MM): So, Jeff, what exactly do you do as a producer?

Jeff Miller (JM): Raises money or finds/develops projects or some combination thereof.

MM: And was it always a goal of you to produce Movies?

JM: I started out wanting to be a writer. Jim Lineberger, who co-wrote the studio movie “Taps” (1981), was kind of my mentor. He and I wrote a screenplay together, as well as a treatment for another. They were good, but when nothing happened, I started realizing how difficult that road could be. I’m kind of an impatient person. I wanted to get movies made. So, I realized I needed to get into producing to see my own stories – as well as others I liked – get made.

MM: Is there just as much pressure on a producer, when it comes to movies, as there is the director and how did you break into the game?

JM: Absolutely, if not more so. If the money’s not there or you lose a location or food’s not there on time, nobody blames the director. After writing a bunch of screenplays (and getting paid to write one, which was never made), I got my first credit – as associate producer – on “Freakshow” (1995), which starred Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen.

After that, I co-wrote and produced “Hellblock 13” and just went from there.

MM: Filmmakers generally get better with each film they do, does it work the same for producers, you think?

JM: I think producers get better, but not necessarily the films if that makes sense! Some films are just bigger than others. Like in my case, I like doing small films, and I like doing bigger films.

There are benefits to both I guess I’d like to think my films are “trending upward” as far as quality. At least my family tells me they’re getting better, haha! At the end of the day, I like telling stories and want to have an audience for those stories.

MM: Tell us about “Death Kiss”– and where and who did the plot idea come from?

JM: Rene Perez and I had done “The Burning Dead” (aka Volcano Zombies) together. We were talking about doing something else. It was originally going to be another horror film. But then I remembered he’d done a movie with a Charles Bronson lookalike, and I said, why don’t we make an action-revenge movie with that guy?

MM: Since you’re essentially making an unofficial “Death Wish” movie, with a Bronson-look-alike, do you have to get permission from anyone to do that?

JM: We’re not making an unofficial "Death Wish" movie, we’re making a wholly original action-revenge film that you could say is in the vein of the Death Wish series.

MM: Were you aware of Robert Kovacs before or did you hold an open casting call for the lead role?

JM: I’d known he’d done a western with Rene.

Horror, projects, and upcoming productions

MM: I imagine some of the actors in the film, let alone the crew, would’ve been surprised to see how much their co-star looked like the legend himself?

JM: Everyone was a fan! And Robert (“Bronzi”) is a great guy and a workhorse. I saw him carrying a big, heavy tree stump over his shoulder when we were shooting some of the climax of him and Tyson in the snow.

MM: How do you decide which projects to produce, Jeff, and does horror still sell like it used to?

JM: It’s a variety of factors. I was originally a writer, so often I’ll have a story idea I want to see made, and I’ll develop it from scratch. Other times I may like someone’s work and want to be involved with their next project. Sometimes a friend’s movie needs post funds. It all depends. I’m told there’s currently a glut of it in the marketplace. That’s one of the reasons I’m developing a few more action films as well.

MM: You’ve been busy, so can you tell us about any of your upcoming productions?

JM: “Ouija House” and “The Toybox” both just came out. “The Russian Bride” is a great thriller written and directed by Michael J.

Ojeda, who did the outstanding horror-revenge film “Avenged.” We’re close to closing a domestic deal on that one. I’m helping frequent collaborator Gary Jones on his prison action feature “Escape from Death Block 13,” which also stars Robert Kovacs and finishes shooting in October. And I’m developing another horror feature with my “Ouija House” writer Justin Hawkins that we hope to shoot later this year. I’ve been very fortunate the past couple of years – a lot of stuff coming out or in the works!