Making Magic

Miano, right, works on location with director Paul Weitz of
Depth of Field production company.

Andrew Miano ’95, Hollywood producer, likens his role to that of facilitator, since he helps enable the director’s vision to become a reality. But you could say his job description is more like “wizard” — he helps create the movie magic.

It’s not as easy — or quick — as waving a wand, though. A partner with Paul and Chris Weitz in their production company Depth of Field since 1999, Miano explains that it can take years for a movie to evolve from an idea, book or script to its premiere on the silver screen. Case in point: “Being Flynn,” which the company optioned before Miano’s son was born and was released when the boy was 8½ last year.

Last month’s premiere of Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, took four years from start to finish.

And some projects die on the vine, lacking either funding, the right cast or some other factor to make it to release.

But those that do end up in the theaters make it all worthwhile.

Miano has produced such critically acclaimed hits as Tom Ford’s A Single Man, one of the American Film Institute’s 2009 Movies of the Year. The movie premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, where star Colin Firth won the Best Actor award, followed quickly by the BAFTA Award and Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations. Julianne Moore received Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Award nominations for her performance.

On the set of “Being Flynn,” from left, Miano, another producer Michael Costigan, author Nick Flynn and co-producer Dan Balgoyen.

Miano’s other movies as producer include Peter Sollett’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings; and Paul Weitz’s American Dreamz and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant. He was executive producer on Paul Weitz’s In Good Company and Little Fockers; and on Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, which grossed nearly $400 million worldwide.

“We gear toward adult comedies or dramas with a touch of comedy because that’s real life,” Miano explains. And which movie is his favorite? “They’re all like my children,” he says with a laugh. “I love them because you spend so much time with them.”

Miano came to Oswego as a business major, but after only a few weeks, he knew it was not for him. He had liked acting in high school, so he became a theatre major and minored in writing.

In those two departments he would find a home, and mentors who would change the course of his life.

Brad Korbesmeyer and Leigh Wilson of creative writing, and theatre’s Mark Cole ’73, Kitty Macey, Ron Medici, Jon Vermilye ’66 and the late Rosemary Nesbitt, whom he called “less an influence but an inspiration,” all affected his life.

It was a remark by Korbesmeyer that set his career in motion. “You should be an agent, you like to talk so much,” Korbesmeyer told him. So Miano interned at the Willam Morris Agency in Chicago and enjoyed it so much he decided to pursue a career as an agent.

Korbesmeyer laughed when told that story. He remembers it differently.

“I remember talking about how Andy had so many interests and was good at all of them. It was like, ‘How do you put all of them together?’

“He was involved in the music department, one of the choral groups, was a DJ and in a band — I remember going to see him playing in a band at a bar with a kilt on! He was taking creative writing courses, acting in musicals and has this great, engaging personality.”

Korbesmeyer added, “I see it as a perfect fit that he is a producer … but he does talk a lot!”

The agency job took Miano to Hollywood, where he faced the realization that what he really wanted to do was make movies. He joined up with the Weitz brothers and his first movie with them was In Good Company. “I’m very proud of it,” Miano said. “It was fun to make and successful. People still talk about it. ”

When people hear what Miano does for a living, they always ask him if he hobnobs with the stars. “People have this impression that being a producer is a glamorous job,” he says. “The truth is it’s 10 percent glamour and 90 percent hard work…that 10 percent is a great deal of fun, but the 90 percent is why I do it!”

Andrew Miano ‘95, second from right, meets with members of Oswego’s Blackfriars theatre organization in the Chu Atrium in fall 2011.

He has flown all over the world producing movies and has worked with Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson, among many others.

Still, the globe-hopping producer was thrilled to come back to Oswego and share his insights with students. An Alumni-in-Residence Program participant, he returned to campus in fall 2011, and told students, “Believe in your ability that you can do anything you want to do.”

Despite social media that keeps people all connected via Facebook, Twitter and Linked In, Miano says, “At end of the day what I do is still so much about communication and relationships.”

And, one would still argue – magic.

—Michele Reed

Leave a Reply