When viewing Josh Miller's reel, make sure to sit back and cozy up with a box of tissues. Not that his work is one big sob story, but it sure has a tendency to tug quietly at your heartstrings. The 36-year-old California native, repped out of Little Minx@RSA, can squeeze a melon of emotion from the most mundane or absurd situations. Take his charming spec spot for MINI, about a guy who befriends a duck, leading to a cross-country journey to free his web-footed pal into the big blue. "Filmmaking can be about how you treat the picture, but it's also the casting and how you treat the relationships, and I kind of cast myself in that in the sense that we all want a friend like a duck," he deadpans. Speaking of animals, there's also his self-written specs for Animal Planet, which ironically, involve not one furry beast. In one spot set in a hauntingly clinical office environment, the camera artfully travels through scenes of office drudgery-a woman is hypnotized by the green glare of the copy machine; another idly watches the coffeemaker's drip. Closing with the tag "Free the Humans," the overall effect is simultaneously melancholy and uplifting. Miller also wrote and shot a gorgeous commercial for Schwinn, which gloriously embraces the feel-goodness of a kid posse's bike ride to nowhere. As for why Miller has penned so much of his own stuff-surprise!-he's a former creative. Previously a writer/creative director at Kirshenbaum, Cliff Freeman and Team One, he signed to Little Minx about nine months ago. Within that time, Miller has made some serious headway into his new career on a campaign for AAA. There's also his simply set yet stirring voting PSA for MTV, in which the camera slowly creeps toward a man who spews increasingly offensive slurs about everyone and their mother. "What was so powerful about this script is the character and what he is saying," Miller explains. "I wanted to make it feel like you're sitting next to a guy at a bar and the longer you talk to him, after a beer or two, you start talking politics, his true views start to come out and you become really afraid. Any cut would be distracting from that character. I felt like it should be a slow move into the guy's face so first you hear the story from a distance, but as his views become more un-PC, his character becomes more creepy and the viewer gets uncomfortably close." Miller (who's also currently working on a documentary as well as what he calls a marketing experiment/art project in the guise of an infomercial for "a square piece of wood with a hole in it") also demonstrates the skills of a natural visualist, each of his shots perfectly composed, as in one unforgettable nighttime scene from MINI, where the two friends sit in their little car dwarfed between two big-rigs. "It's funny, I've always felt like I was an art director caught in a writer's body," he laughs. "But now I realize all along I was a director caught in a writer's body."