George Miller is one of Australia’s most iconic and successful filmmakers. Born in Brisbane, Queensland in 1945, George was raised in the country town of Chinchilla, west of Brisbane.He studied medicine at the University of New South Wales with plans to pursue a career in that filed. In his final year, George made a short film that took first prize in a student competition. The career change was inevitable.
As a writer, director and producer, he is responsible for some of Australia’s greatest moments in film. The 1979 cult classic Mad Max, starring a very young Mel Gibson, marked his feature-length directorial debut. Written by Miller and James McCausland, the film was financed independently by his newly formed production company Kennedy Miller Productions.
As a result of the film’s success, which drew enormous international acclaim, Mad Max became an enduring franchise of the Australian film industry. Mel Gibson continued to star in the two forthcoming sequels Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), both equally successful.
In 1983, Miller directed a remake of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” for the 1983 anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie. Around the same time, he co-produced and co-directed many acclaimed miniseries for Australian television including The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984).
Miller’s reputation spread internationally when he directed The Witches of Eastwick (1987), starring Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer. The project was a difficult one for Miller: “I quit the film twice and Jack [Nicholson] held me in there,” he said. “He said just sit down, lose your emotion, and have a look at the work. If you think the work is good, stick with the film, and he was a great man. I learnt more from him than anybody else I think I’d worked for – he was extraordinary.”
Following Witches, Miller turned his attention to producing Australian projects. As producer of Flirting, Dead Calm and the TV mini-series Bangkok Hilton and Vietnam – all starring Nicole Kidman – was instrumental in the development of her career.
He returned to directing in 1992 with Lorenzo’s Oil, which he co-wrote with Nick Enright. He co-wrote Babe in 1995 and wrote and directed the sequel, Babe: Pig in the City (1998).
In 2006, Miller created the enduring animated classic Happy Feet, a musical epic about the life of penguins in Antarctica. The Warner Brothers film was a runaway box office success and brought Miller his third Academy Award nomination, and his first win in the category of Best Animated Feature. The sequel, Happy Feet Two, followed in 2011.
The following year, Miller began work on Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth film in the Mad Max series. Following several delays, Fury Road was released on 15 May 2015 to overwhelming international acclaim and a box office return of nearly $400 million.
1979 Mad Max – writer, director
1980 The Chain Reaction – producer
1981 Mad Max 2 – producer
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie – director
1984 The Dismissal – writer, director, producer
1984 The Last Bastion – director
1985 Bodyline – writer, producer
1987 The Witches of Eastwick – director
1987 The Year My Voice Broke – producer
1989 Dead Calm – producer
1989 Bangkok Hilton – producer
1991 Flirting – producer
1992 Lorenzo’s Oil – writer, director, producer
1995 Babe – writer, producer
1996 Video Fool for Love – producer
1997 40,000 Years of Dreaming – writer, director
1998 Babe: Pig in the City – writer, director, producer
2006 Happy Feet – writer, director, producer
2011 Happy Feet Two – writer, director, producer
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road – writer, director, producer
Awards and recognition
1982: Won Australian Film Institute Award for Mad Max 2, Best Director and Best Film Editing (shared with others)
1987: Won Australian Film Institute Award for The Year My Voice Broke, Best Picture (as producer), shared with Doug Mitchell and Terry Hayes
1990: Won Australian Film Institute Award for Flirting, Best Picture (as producer), shared with Doug Mitchell and Terry Hayes
1993: Academy Award nomination for Lorenzo’s Oil, Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, shared with co-writer Nick Enright
1996: Two Academy Award nominations for Babe, Best Picture (as producer) and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published, shared with co-writer Chris Noonan
1996: Appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)
1999: Received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of New South Wales
2007: Won Academy Award for Happy Feet, Best Animated Feature
2007: Won BAFTA Award for Happy Feet, Best Animated Feature
2007: Received The Queensland – United States Personal Achievement Award at the Queensland Expatriate Awards at the Rainbow Room in New York
2007: Received the FIAPF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
2007 (April): Awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree by the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
2007: Received the AFI Global Achievement Award
2008: Awarded an honorary Doctorate from the Griffith University.
2009: Awarded the French Order of the Arts and Letters.
2010: First non-US Filmmaker to be awarded “honorary member” status among the VES.