CAMPAIGN CRAFT: PROFILE - Miller trades on experience to bring life to Spectre. Bertie Miller’s start-up will offer a ’broad spectrum’ of talent, Jim Davies reports

I’m wondering what Bertie Miller will pull out of his bag next.

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

Never Dies.

’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

too well.’

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.


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