For Miles Brandman, seeing his name on screen under the title of "director" has been a long time coming. Despite saying that he is "a little sleepy," he speaks in fast, short sentences, making it obvious that he is excited to talk about his latest project, Sex and Breakfast. He is friendly and personable, and when he talks about the writing/directing process, he sounds so enthusiastic it is hard to keep up with him.
"This is one of the most important things I've ever done," Brandman said of his directorial debut. Sex and Breakfast is an expansion of a short film he created during his time in Emerson's L.A. program before graduating in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in film.
Brandman started out as many aspiring directors do. As a kid, he would make "little movies" and always found himself in the role of director. During his college career, he directed several short films and worked on some of his classmates' film projects. He moved back to his hometown of L.A. to pursue his chosen career after graduation.
Back in California, his main focus was developing a feature-length script for Sex and Breakfast. In a nutshell, the film follows two twentysomething couples that find they've lost the spark in their respective relationships. The pairs decide to follow the advice of a sex-therapist, Dr. Wellbridge, and try a partner swap to rekindle the sexual stimulation that has disappeared.
According to Brandman, "Everybody has their inspirations. Every artist has developed their craft from seeing other art." However, the main source material for the unusual narrative came from two specific occurrences in the director's life. During the time he was writing the script for the short film, Brandman was in a relationship that was destined to fail; his girlfriend was moving to Germany and a split was inevitable.
He said he found inspiration for the other characters in acquaintances, particularly a couple that felt they had lost interest in each other. His friends decided to try an open relationship to attempt to recapture the excitement they had experienced when they first started dating.
To him, both of these situations represented people in relationships with a change about to occur. It was a question of how they dealt with the transition-if they coped or if they failed-that interested Brandman most.
Two years after his L.A. internship, he found producers willing to come on board with the project. One of those producers was Brandman's father, Michael Brandman, who has produced feature and TV films alongside being a writer. The team then spent another eight to ten months finishing the script, but it was still missing a well-known actor to draw attention to the project.
They found that name in former child star Macaulay Culkin. Brandman was thrilled when Culkin took the role of James as he wrote the part with the Home Alone star in mind.
"It was a blast," Brandman said about the on-set experience he had for the 15 days of shooting. With a $400,000 budget, the film was shot on pre-standing sets and the editing was done in Brandman's own office.
What appeals to him about directing is that he loves to see his creative visions come alive right in front of him. But, "I live my life as a writer," Brandman said, acknowledging the fact that he's only been an on-set director for a week and a half.
As for advice to young filmmakers, Brandman was hesistant to say "There is never any direct path to success in Los Angeles; no clear path to ascension," he said. "You need a huge amount of luck and a huge amount of skill and persistence.
When I was an intern at Dreamworks, an executive told me that good material rises to the top." Brandman said he wants to share that idea with future directors. He stressed hard work and focus as the key elements of creating a product to be proud of. Also, playing the role of dutiful alumnus, Brandman recommended that students listen to their teachers and professors.
After half a decade of investing his blood, sweat and tears into his first film, Brandman's work finally paid off when Sex and Breakfast premiered on Nov. 30, 2007 in Los Angeles. Following its limited release, a DVD will be coming out in late January 2008.
Brandman is already working on his next project, Restoration, and said he can't wait to get back to the place he feels most at home: the director's chair.