I’m wondering what Bertie Miller will pull out of his bag next.
First there’s the Psion palmtop computer, which he retrieves to confirm
the date of a crucial football fixture. Then the high-fashion, low-tech
Russian Lomo camera he insists on demonstrating by taking my portrait.
Finally, a state-of-the-art mobile phone, which he uses to warn the
necessary parties that he’ll be late for his next appointment, in wanton
defiance of the notices plastered over the oak-panelled walls of Soho
’You get shot for less in here,’ he says, taking a nonchalant look
around the room to make sure he hasn’t been spotted. Dressed in his
trademark John Pearse green tweed suit and roll-neck jumper, Miller sits
comfortably among the artfully distressed leather armchairs and
conspiratorial conversations of the members-only club.
Together with the procession of pocket-sized gizmos, the ambience
provides the perfect setting in which to interview the former Rose
Hackney Barber joint managing director who’s come up with the name
Spectre for his start-up. It’s apt, considering Miller’s business
partner, the award-winning commercials director, Daniel Kleinman, was
responsible for the opening credits of the latest Bond movie, Tomorrow
’I’ve got someone out looking for office space at the moment,’ Miller
confides. ’He told me about a property where you had to walk through the
NCP car park to get to these rather nice premises. I liked the idea of
that ... We may end up behind a Chinese laundry.’
But it’s unlikely that Spectre will be keeping a low profile for
In Kleinman and the prolific John Lloyd, who’s signed up with his
producer, Caroline Warden, the company has two of the most accomplished
comedy dialogue directors in London.
But Spectre won’t be out-and-out chuckles. To maintain a healthy
stylistic balance, Sandra Goldbacher will be joining from Rose Hackney
Barber, fresh from her first feature film, the Governess, which she
wrote and directed.
Miller points to her varied CV which includes documentaries and pop
promos as well as ads.
Jason Smith, formerly a director at Produktion, is another Spectre
He joins with his highly experienced producer, Lewis More O’Farrell.
’Jason is about to take off in a big way,’ Miller predicts. ’He has a
great eye.’ Completing the picture is Fly, a preposterously trendy
ex-Royal College of Art multi-disciplinary design team, who among other
things, are expert exponents of the aforementioned Lomo cameras.
’At first sight we may appear to have a comedy bent,’ Miller admits,
’but in reality it’s a good broad spectrum. We’re not going to be anal
or arty, we just intend to do the best work we possibly can.’
There’s an unassuming confidence about the wiry 35-year-old, whose
progression up the greasy pole of commercials production appears to have
been remarkably smooth. Miller’s first taste of film production was as a
teenager on a placement at the promo hothouse, MGMM, where he helped out
on videos for, among others, 80s icons such as Spandau Ballet, Tina
Turner and Chas ’n’ Dave.
After a dispiriting 18 months in the sales department of the book
publisher, Hamish Hamilton, he jumped at an offer to join the Directors
Studio as a runner/motorcycle messenger, even though he barely knew one
end of a bike from another. It did at least give him the chance to
observe directors of the calibre of Lester Bookbinder, Ian McKenzie and
Barry Lategan at first hand, and Miller, who rides a Vespa to this day,
quickly moved up a rung to studio assistant.
Though he had aspirations to become a freelance assistant director,
Miller was persuaded to stay on at Directors and train as a producer. He
was put under the tutelage of Chris Richmond, an ex-naval officer who’d
worked in commercials in Chicago during the late 50s. ’We were locked up
in a office together for a year; he taught me everything he knew about
budgeting, post-production and the rest of what it takes to be a
producer,’ Miller acknowledges.
When Directors suffered its ’spectacular financial collapse’ in 1987,
Miller moved to Harry Films for a couple of years, then went on to
produce for the mercurial Barney Edwards for a year before settling at
Rose Hackney where he stayed for eight years, finishing up as joint
managing director with John Hackney.
At Rose Hackney, he worked closely with David McDonald, Graham Rose,
Daniel Barber and Joe Public: ’It rounded me off as a producer,’ he
In the past couple of years, Miller concentrated on ’building a more
contemporary profile’ for the company and convincing the ad industry
that Rose Hackney (with the significant addition of Barber on the door)
was funky as well as solid. That mission completed, it was time to move
on. ’I’d done all I could have done there,’ he says. ’There was
certainly no need for two managing directors. They wish me well, but not
It’s easy to see why there’s no ill feeling. Miller has a natural charm
which he uses to best advantage - you get the impression, however, that
there is a certain mettle beneath the gentle exterior. One of his
hobbies is boxing. Looking at him discreetly sipping his second
cappuccino, this is almost impossible to imagine; but after all, that’s
what makes a good double agent.