Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Beginner's luck: Bennett Miller

Bennett Miller

Bennett Miller's best director Oscar nomination for Capote sees him lining up with some of the world's foremost film-makers, including Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg.

It is quite an accolade for a 38-year-old documentary maker and former student of New York University's film school.

Miller gained recognition with his 1998 documentary The Cruise, about a Manhattan tour guide, but was reluctant to make his feature film debut before he felt sufficiently confident about his skills.

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He spent the interim years between The Cruise and Capote directing TV commercials and reading screenplays that might provide the inspiration for his first film.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bennett Miller
Miller (r) has known actor Philip Seymour Hoffman since he was 16

Childhood friend and actor Dan Futterman eventually came up with the goods, when he sent Miller the first draft of his biopic about author Truman Capote.

The screenplay covers six influential years of Capote's life, which saw the writer befriend convicted killers Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, who became the subject matter of his best-selling novel In Cold Blood.

Like The Cruise, the film showcases a mesmerising real life character and explores the dichotomy between the public and the private worlds of former New Yorker journalist Capote.

It features a stand-out performance from actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose talent, Miller has said, was intrinsic to the film's success.

Good material is hard to come by
Bennett Miller

The film has won Miller a string of awards, including best first film from the New York Film Critics Circle, a best director Bafta nomination and a nomination from the Directors Guild of America.

It is a remarkable debut for Miller and studio offers are sure to follow, but the director is eager not to rush into the wrong project.

Like his film heroes, Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick, he believes in taking his time over his craft.

"Good material is hard to come by," Miller said in a recent interview. "It's the truth. Terrence Malick's made three, now four, movies. Stanley Kubrick made how many in the last twenty-five years of his life? Four."

To judge by critics' response to Capote, it will be worth the wait.

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