After a dozen years as a photojournalist with KIRO-TV, Brian Miller left the security of a television-station job in 1998 to start his own company, Wide Angle TV.
Two factors influenced his decision-time and money. And he yearned to be independent.
He now works one-third as much as he did before and earns three times the money, he says. But the freelance business can be unpredictable, subject to such variables as the weather and the economy.
Miller won’t venture a guess at an “average” work week. “There isn’t any”-and he’s fine with that. Some days he might put in 15-20 hours-when he’s working. The downside is the time between assignments.
“It can get a bit frustrating,” says the Washington State University graduate (’86 Comm.). “I just try to keep the faith and know the phone will ring . . . sometime.”
His assignments-with KIRO-TV and after-have been varied, sometimes risky. In 1996, KIRO wanted to report on the link between Seattle’s Russian mafia and such activities as the importing of illegal goods, car theft rings, and extortion, he says.
Miller and reporter Neal Karlinsky spent 10 days in Vladivostok on the assignment. They gained access to the Russian mafia through business contacts in Seattle, Miller says, and through his interpreter. The team produced a three-part series entitled, The Russian Connection. For their effort, Miller and Karlinsky shared a second-place award in the 1996 New York International Film Festival.
Miller’s other credits include two Northwest Regional Emmys: one for China White, a 1996 in-depth news piece about the heroin trade in Vancouver, B.C.; the other for his 1993 coverage of the Laguna Beach, California, wildfires.
As an independent cameraman, he can pick assignments that excite him. Last October he was on a Warner Brothers’ lot in Los Angeles shooting interviews with cast members, including Keanu Reeves, of the movie blockbuster, The Matrix Revolutions. Earlier the same week, he was across town shooting a corporate video for Ruby’s restaurants.
In the summer and early fall 2003, he spent five weeks in various locations in Italy-Rome, Florence, Venice, and Pisa-and on the island of Sardinia, shooting scenes for the television show, The Next Joe Millionaire. Then it was off to New York on an assignment for MTV-Making the Video, a backstage look at the latest Britney Spears and Madonna music video.
“It’s almost like a job,” Miller says. “I’m in the Roman Coliseum. I’m on top of the Space Needle. I get to experience these things not only as a cameraman, but also as Brian Miller, citizen of the world.”