Twenty-seven years ago, Michael and Suellen Anderson-Miller met and both happily admit it was love at first sight. Two years ago, they decided to celebrate their 25th "meeting" anniversary by getting married. Today, they have two daughters and a new grandchild named Willow, along with two beautiful cats who gracefully joined us in their pristine San Anselmo home, perched at the foot of a popular walking trail lined with Eucalyptuses.
Michael (who has lived in Marin since he was four) and Suellen think there is "no better place to live in the world" than Marin County. That's a pretty big statement coming from world-travelers who have circled the globe five or six times in the course of their relationship. They find the weather, people, land, hiking, restaurants, light, and myriad of opportunities all perfect for their eclectic lives.
For a four-year span the Anderson-Millers lived in New York and visited Marin only on vacations. The only complaint from both is the lack of transportation around the county.
They are an all-American couple who travel the world bringing new stories to life, and giving life to new stories.
Michael is a well-known cinematographer whose feature film, Tenderloin, written by Ned Miller, premiered at the 2009 Mill Valley Film Festival. Set in a seedy San Francisco neighborhood downtown, the raw story featured a colorful array of transvestites, drug dealers, Vietnam veterans, and high-class slumlords. The film gives homeless adults, as well as one young boy, a face and a story that viewers across the spectrum can appreciate.
For over 40 years, Michael has been the cameraman for over 200 features, shorts, television programs, fiction and non-fiction movies -- experimental, independent, documentaries, and videos and dance films (which is how I met him 24 years ago).
With Tenderloin, Michael can finally call the shots himself. He was the boss and created a wonderfully creative film that played at many festivals. Michael is a generous and thoughtful cameraman, known for his energetic personality and a sparkly smile focusing the lens. He is so well-known that this past year he managed a symphonic trifecta -- taping the Marin, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco Symphonies on different film projects.
Michael’s directorial debut feature film led him to the current project he is now developing, The Calving Barn -- a love triangle set in a West Marin Cattle Ranch. The screenwriter of the piece, Mark Dowie, single-handedly uncovered papers exposing problems with the Ford Pintos in 1971. (Dowie was an investigative journalist working for Mother Jones Magazine, who now currently lives in Marin. He brought to light papers exposing known problems with the Pinto that Ford was covering up.) Dowie saw Tenderloin and thought the look and feel was the way he wanted his movie to be, so he asked Michael to help bring it to life.
Suellen and Marcia Hansen were the first midwives to get admitting privileges ever in an American hospital.
In 1981, it was a landmark event at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco that allowed them to work, followed by Marin General giving these two dynamic women admission to their birthing centers. This long-term relationship has led Suellen to the work she does now as a world-renowned Lifewrap expert.
(Lifewrap is a NASA-developed neoprene product that assists in preventing death from blood loss during childbirth -- a danger that kills 300,000 women worldwide annually. So far they estimate that over 2,000 women's lives have been saved by using Lifewrap.)
Sueellen travels all over the world for about 40 percent of the year to developing countries such as Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Egypt, Peru, India, and Nigeria to teach and demonstrate how to use Lifewrap to healthcare professionals.
Lifewrap hasn't caught on here in the U.S. (despite high mortality rates for women in childbirth right here in California), but Suellen and Michael want to change that. They are collaborating to create films that get the word out to more parts of the world, and plan to bring information about this product to developing countries and to our own country.
For your information
Suellen is hosting an event in San Francisco tomorrow, March 17, with Edward Burns and Christy Turlington. The event will screen a film Turlington directed, No Woman, No Cry. For more information about the film, click here. To learn more about Lifewrap, click here.