One-on-one with Filmmaker Carina Miller on her unflinching documentary 'Down to the Bottom'
iFilmFestival: Hi Carina! Can you tell us a bit about your most important film so far?
CM: “Down to the Bottom is a short documentary using photographs and recorded phone conversations to tell the story of my father's end-stage alcohol use disorder. I knew it was important to include what felt uncomfortable and what made my dad and I feel most vulnerable. The response from viewers has been that the documentary offered a perspective they've never had access to except in the movies. The other response has been viewers privately sharing their personal stories in response to me sharing mine.”
iFilmFestival: What were the key challenges making it?
CM: “My dad has severe AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) and it was an overwhelming and monumental task to pull and piece together coherent audio clips from our recorded phone conversations. Eventually, I had to accept that, "Done is better than perfect."
iFilmFestival: What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
CM: “I'm particularly proud that I finished this documentary. I have a newfound respect for how much work goes into making documentaries and films. New filmmakers, especially those like myself who have no experience or film education, work with little to no crew, little to no resources, learning on the go and wearing all the hats. You know you are on the right track when you are willing to keep going.”
iFilmFestival: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
CM: “I wanted to share the story of my dad's alcoholism to inspire people to reconsider their relationship with alcohol. My Dad is still alive, and the end is sad, heartbreaking and more painful and terrible for my Dad than a film can convey. It's worth trying.”
iFilmFestival: What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
CM: “I'm thinking of making an experimental documentary using historical and oral testimony, archival materials, stills and moving images to explore menopause.”
iFilmFestival: What role do film festivals play?
CM: “I've heard film festivals are an opportunity to network, but more importantly, the film festival supports artists taking risks and putting themselves out there by validating their work.”
iFilmFestival: What is your advice to filmmakers tackling the festival circuit?
CM: “Submit even if you have imposter syndrome.”
iFilmFestival: How do you see the future of film?
CM: “I don't feel qualified to answer this question, but it seems obvious that even if technology and the medium changes, storytelling is still the future of film. Stories develop empathy and help us understand each other and ourselves.”
iFilmFestival: What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
CM: “I was really inspired by 'All the Beauty and the Bloodshed' by director Laura Poitras about artist and activist Nan Goldin. I'm also excited to see the documentary short 'Eat Flowers' by River Finlay about artist Cig Harvey premiering at this year's Hot Doc Festival.”
iFilmFestival: Thank you Carina for answering our questions!
Interview by iFilmFestival on 24 Apr 2023.