The Higher Grounds saga continues. The comedy about a vegan coffee shop owner taking the barista competition by storm with her plant based milks (a practice that is bafflingly not allowed in real barista competitions) was recently learned to be the directorial product of Randall Miller. Abrought to our attention by many in the entertainment industry, Miller’s involvement in the film is controversial. Back in 2014, camerawoman Sarah Jones was struck by a train and killed in Georgia while on set of Midnight Runner, another filmed directed by Miller. A year later, Miller plead guilty to criminal trespassing and involuntary manslaughter stemming from the incident. He was sentenced to one year in jail as well as 10 years probation that “prohibited from serving as director, first assistant director or supervisor with responsibility for safety in any film production,” as per Deadline.
Now, according to Variety, “Georgia officials have determined that director Randall Miller violated his probation” by making the film Higher Grounds.
Higher Grounds was shot on location Serbia, Colombia, and the UK in 2019. Around the same time Miller’s involvement and criminal history were being made known to Sprudge, his role in the independent film was also garnering the attention of the authorities in Georgia, who “after a thorough review of the case and collaboration with our partners in law enforcement,” per spokesman for the Department of Community Supervision Brian Tukes, “determined that Mr. Miller’s actions result in a violation of his probation.”
The Department of Community Supervision is requesting a warrant be issued for Miller’s arrest due to the alleged probation violation.
Deadline reports that Miller’s lawyers are now fighting that arrest warrant as well as a potential transport from his home in California to Georgia to stand trial. The thrust of their argument stems from the language in the probation ruling (which can be found in full here), specifically the portion quoted above. Miller is “prohibited from serving as director, first assistant director or supervisor with responsibility for safety in any film production,” and his lawyers argue that he can continue acting as director so long as he has no “responsibility for safety in any film production.” Per Deadline, the safety of the film was overseen by Assistant Director and Associate Producer in Charge of Safety Jason Allen, and Higher Grounds was a signatory production of the Directors Guild of America, whom according to their website, Miller remains an active member.
Miller’s attorneys are also referencing COVID-19 in relation to the warrant. According to their filing:
The arrest of Randy Miller in California where he lives would be in clear derogation of the principles that virtually every court in the country has advocated in response to the coronavirus pandemic… The court should take every measure that is reasonable to avoid the necessity of individuals being imprisoned, the court should take every measure to avoid the necessity of travel, and in this case, the court should take all reasonable measures to avoid the need to transport a prisoner from California to Jesup, Georgia, which would necessitate the constant quarantining of both Miller and his custodians as they travel across the country.
Currently, there is no timeline for when the warrant for Miller’s arrest will be issued, and Yahoo! Entertainment reports that a hearing will be held on Wednesday, June 17th in Georgia to determine if the warrant will be issued.
This story is developing.