Sharon Miller

Unit Production Manager


While studying media, photography and drama at Charles Sturt University, I was sent to the Women’s Film Unit at Film Australia in Lindfield, Sydney for professional development.

Training as a production assistant I worked with some amazing women including producer Janet Bell, who was on secondment from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Jane Campion who directed her breakthrough short film, After Hours.

This attachment was an incredible, enlightening experience, and I was surrounded by really talented, creative people. Several producers invited me to call them once I’d finished my studies, which turned out to be my starting point in the industry.

Working across all parts of the industry as a production manager and line producer, I still like mixing up small and big budgets on film and television. I’ve done everything from TV series like Fields Of Fire, to local films The Delinquents, Turtle Beach in Thailand, and American TV shows in Mexico, as well as bigger features working in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I’ve also worked on studio films, with Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi a standout.

After being UPM on Legendary Entertainment’s Pacific Rim: Uprising, I did the National Indigenous Television/SBS kids series, Grace Beside Me, which I really wanted to do. That one was a passion project for me.

In the U.S., feature and TV production crews don’t usually mix, whereas in Australia many of us have to mix it up as there is not enough work for everyone to stick with just one medium. But it gives us an advantage. I enjoy the fact that we’re not so regimented or unionised; that people can help each other out on set. Plus, it’s part of the Australian psyche to get in and get the job done.

Working on Bleeding Steel with the Chinese was a learning curve for all of us. They have a more gung-ho attitude to things that we regulate and that transition was difficult for them to understand.

But shooting those action scenes on the Sydney Opera House over several days was incredible. It wasn’t easy, but it was such fun and the cooperation the production received from agencies, the government and the opera house was fantastic. Everyone was as supportive as they could be.

Being around the Sydney Opera House was so inspiring. Walking around it on a Sunday afternoon is beautiful, but being inside and being involved with its inner workings made it one of my working highlights.

And working with producer Ellen Eliasoph again was another highlight. Ellen is very sharp, very calm and intelligent, and working with her is very stimulating. She is sensitive to the cultural differences between the Chinese and Australians and she quietly goes about her business getting things done without you knowing that she’s the powerhouse behind it. And she’s got a great sense of humour which helps when working on shoots as complex as Bleeding Steel.

Production is a very different world now to when I started, when nearly everyone on set was male. There are a lot of amazing women in the industry getting things done and not so many areas are closed to women, although there is definitely a gender imbalance in certain departments, and not always balanced towards men, mind you.

There are a lot of female production managers and line producers and women tend to do it well. Why, I don’t know. But it’s progressing with a lot of smart, talented women working in design, camera and sound – even as riggers. I always encourage women and girls to do what they want to do. I say, just get out and do it. If you want to be a director, make those short films. You have to chase it. It doesn’t matter how advanced you are, you are always learning in this industry.

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President, CEO & Producer, Perfect Village Entertainment