Entertainment » Movies

Director Mike Mills’ Beginners -- a different kind of coming out story

by Anthony Paull
Sunday Jun 5, 2011

Breathing fiction into real-life events, film director Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) returns to the film festival circuit with his second full-length feature, Beginners. The intimate tale of an middle-aged son confronting his 75 year old father’s decision to ’come out’ as a gay man.

The film’s premise stems from Mills personal recollections of his ailing father, who found a ’second wind’ after sharing his life-long secret. Previously known for directing music videos for world-renowned artists like Moby, Mills utilizes naturalistic techniques, along with a seasoned cast (Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer) to explore the dynamics of a father and son dealing with the ugly truth of death, while discovering that, at any age, life can be beautiful.

In April, Beginners is scheduled to be the opening night film at The 54th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival. It is also part of the 2011 Sarasota Film Festival and the Boston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The film is scheduled for limited release on June 3, 2011.

Mills took a moment to chat with Edge about his work.

From videos to features

EDGE: After directing music videos for such acts as Moby, Yoko Ono, and Air, what inspired your jump to features?

Mike Mills: I love doing music videos, but I always hoped to make features. My videos were always story-based. With videos, I was practicing; trying different styles to become a filmmaker. For me, video making was like film school.

EDGE: Aesthetically, what mood were you trying to create with the film?

Mike Mills: I started writing it after my father passed away, and when a second parent dies, there’s a period of ’high grieving’ where you have so much to say. So visually, I wanted a dense bouquet of images in the film, with stills and drawings and people talking to the camera. I wanted the film to have a naturalistic quality, with a rich vocabulary.

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Watch the trailer to Beginners:


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