BOOK REVIEW: ‘Either You’re In or You’re In the Way’

Every young child has dreams of growing up to be something great. If you were to ask an elementary student what they are going to be when they grow up likely responses would probably include movie star, professional baseball player, fire fighter, etc. For me the dream was to be an actor; not one of the film and television actors that I write so fervently about, but a stage actor. However, with age comes the realization that some things are more important than dreams of a grandiose career. After college I got married and got a “real” job, and the dream of acting on stage slowly faded. I would imagine that most adults find themselves in that situation (and countless films have been made on the subject).

The Miller Brothers, authors of the book Either You’re In or You’re in the Way, are not the type of people mentioned above. For them there is no other option other than getting what they really want. After years of attempting to play professional baseball and getting awfully close (only quitting due to injury), they moved on to another, some would say riskier, venture – producing a feature film. Their book chronicles the journey from inspiration to distribution of their first feature film Touching Home, which is due to be released in theatres next week.

Logan and Noah Miller are identical twin brothers who are indistinguishable in more than their looks. They have the same career ambitions, they have the same friends and contacts, and they seem to have the same childlike enthusiasm. Their father had been battling alcoholism and essentially living homeless in and out of prison for about a decade until he passed away. Before he died the brothers promised him they were going to make a film telling his story. His death motivated them to get started.

With no real connections in Hollywood, the brothers set out to peddle the pavement and sell their script to anybody that might be willing to read it. Through relentless work, refusal to take no for an answer, and a lot of sheer luck they end up assembling a cast and crew that has a combination of 11 Academy Awards and 26 nominations including Ed Harris, Brad Dourif, and Robert Forster.

It is pretty evident in their writing that the brothers play by their own rules. Throughout the book reasonable people tell them to do something a certain way and whether on purpose or not, the brothers go against the advice. For instance when trying to cast an actor for a certain role they are told that the correct approach would be to contact the agent, submit a script, and wait for a response. Instead the Millers ambush Ed Harris after a Q & A at the San Francisco International Film Festival and show them their trailer in a dimly lit back alley. The crazy thing is all of their anarchic methods seem to work.

Through their writing style one can glean a childlike enthusiasm in the brothers. The tone of their writing is very conversational and sometimes even chaotic. They tend to jump from point to point with no clear transitions. Reading their book is kind of like talking to one of those friends who gets so excited about things that they forget to fill in important details only to go back and do so later. Even though they are just words on a page, you can feel the authors’ energy.

With the Miller brothers’ athletic past, their resistance to using actual names of people is no surprise. Once you’re on a sports team your first name is instantly replaced with whatever characteristic fits you best (i.e. hot hands, A-rod, machine, etc.). The cast and crew that worked on Touching Home frequently earned nicknames like Little Angry, The Red Dragon, and Sound Ranger, showing the brothers’ own comical perspective on life. It’s this upbeat attitude that I found inspirational and really had me rooting for the Millers as their journey progressed.

Either You’re In or You’re In the Way is great light reading for anybody who is interested in the movie industry. I would especially recommend it for budding independent filmmakers as a guide for what can be accomplished with the right attitude and a little bit lot of luck. However, it’s not just a book for film buffs. Logan and Noah Miller’s book is evidence that by simply relying on the goodness of strangers, being persistent, and taking risks it is possible to achieve your dreams.

Touching Home was released in theatres in San Francisco in April and will be released in New York City on May 14th.

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