Alabaster man loves trainwreck life
ALABASTER &8212; Work and play are usually in two separate worlds, but Art Miller, who coordinates train scenes in multi-million dollar movies, gets to do both.
&8220;I can&8217;t think of anything else that would let me deal with the creative side of production and the fascinating and dynamic world of railroads,&8221; Miller said.
The Alabama State Legislature recently passed a resolution recognizing Miller&8217;s company, Rail Transportation Management Specialists, for their &8220;significant contribution to film and safety,&8221; due to his supervision of more than 100,000 hours of accident and injury-free work on movie sets.
Miller created RTMS more than 20 years ago, and said the challenge of addressing differences between the needs of Hollywood studios and the needs of rail operators is what he enjoys most about his job.
Miller himself started out as a brakeman for a rail line in Tennessee in the late 1960&8217;s and has worked within the industry off and on ever since. He realized the niche for RTMS in 1985 while consulting on the set of a Mel McDaniel&8217;s music video.
&8220;The production business didn&8217;t very well speak the language of railroads,&8221; Miller said. &8220;Railroads didn&8217;t very well speak the language of production. They are two very dissimilar industries. And I thought, &8216;Aha, someone needs to be here to translate.&8217;&8221;
Since then, his company has run on an ability to safely create big-budget Hollywood films such as The Fugitive, Courage Under Fire and a soon-to-be-released George Clooney project titled Leatherheads.
Miller said he uses years of experience as a locomotive engineer and rail company consultant and a background in television as a broadcast journalist to help fuse these separate cultures.
He was a news anchor at an east Tennessee local television station for several years in the early 1970s before leaving the cameras behind.
He said that, and graduate work at the University of Tennessee, have helped greatly in his &8220;translation,&8221; between industries.
He also said while the two fields are very different, they both share a common reliance on adaptability and staying current with technology.
He said wife Charlotte Draper, assistant superintendant of instruction for Shelby County Schools, also helps him. Part of her job includes making sure the school system is techno-savvy, and she often passes advice on to him.
Miller met her while coordinating the train scenes for Rustin, an independent film shot in Alabaster in 1999. Draper was the principal for nearby Thompson Middle School at the time and a scene-extra in the film