J. Miles Dale got a good start in life at Bayview Glen, where he attended Junior Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 from 1965 to 1968. “I also attended the summer camp and I recall learning how to dive from the high-diving board at the huge swimming pool,” says Miles. “I remember a couple of great teachers –Mr. Lee and Miss Nada – and I also remember Mrs. Barwick, the Head of School, and a bus driver named Dick Hazel. I believe I was quite a handful at that time. To be honest, I was an enfant terrible! I found it hard to sit still for long periods and I was very impatient. I haven’t changed all that much!”
Miles’ father is Jimmy Dale, a British-born jazz musician who came to Canada at the age of 13, and grew up to perform and tour with Peter Appleyard, amongst others. In the 1960s, Jimmy became a music director for CBC television and, in 1968, he and his family relocated to Hollywood where he worked as a music director on such popular shows as The Smothers Brothers Show, The Andy Williams Show and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. “The years we lived in Hollywood really de-mystified the celebrity culture for me,” says Miles. “It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for me to come home from school and find the Osmond brothers working in the living-room with my dad, so I have never really been too star-struck.”
The family returned to Toronto in the mid-1970s, and Miles graduated from Jarvis Collegiate. He did a year each at the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia before dropping out to join the film industry. “I had no patience for studying and wanted to get on with earning a living,” says Miles. “I was always more entrepreneurial than studious.”
He started as a “runner” on a television show called Bizarre hosted by comic John Byner and featuring slapstick sketches. “I made coffee, ran errands and did whatever was needed,” Miles recalls. “It gave me a chance to learn the business from the ground up.” After a few years on Bizarre, Miles gradually moved into producing television series such as Friday The 13th, Top Cops and RoboCop: The Series. In 2006, he was the executive producer of the feature film Hollywoodland, starring Ben Affleck, and since then has been executive producer for a variety of movies, including Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Thing and The Vow.
Miles’ films are viewed by audiences all over the world and some have had great success at the box office. In 2012, The Vow, starring Canadian actress Rachel McAdams, made over $196,000,000 worldwide. Of course Miles is happy with this kind of commercial success, but says the projects that mean the most to him are the ones that presented the challenge of making a big impression with a limited budget. “In Talk to Me, we shot the Martin Luther King riot scenes in Hamilton on a shoestring, and those scenes really were very powerful”, says Miles. “That film was memorable for me because I not only produced it, but also supervised the soundtrack and acted in it. Martin Sheen fires my character in that movie. I have done some acting from time to time but I don’t particularly enjoy it. Having said that, it’s good experience for me to have because it helps me understand the actors’ point-of-view when I am producing.”
“I love film producing because I have to play so many roles: a counselor, a baby-sitter, a diplomat,” he explains. “I’ve had to learn to be patient with the needs of great artists, particularly actors and directors, and to understand and juggle the various professions that make film production such a wonderful and collaborative creative medium, all the while keeping an eye on the finances.”
Miles is just about to release a remake of Carrie and, also in 2013, he is producing a horror film, Mama, with Guillermo Del Toro, the Oscar-winning director of Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s interesting to note that Del Toro’s children attended Bayview Glen when they lived in Toronto last year, so the two men share a connection with our School.
With a son in his first year at university and a daughter in Grade 9, Miles advises his children to focus on finding work they will love to do in the hopes they will find joy in every day. “I wake up full of energy and raring to go to work,” says Miles, “and I know how fortunate I am to have that. I tell my kids not to settle for anything less. You have to be passionate about what you do. My business has taken me to some amazing places and I spend time every day with really interesting, creative people. I did not get here by wearing a suit and tie, and doing what was expected of me. I had to figure out my strengths and get them working for me. I was lucky – growing up with my dad working in television gave me an early clue to a path that might work for me. I also think it helps that I have never had a job that lasted more than a six or eight months. I like that – it keeps me sharp and always looking for the next opportunity.”
“When I think of Bayview Glen School, the word that always comes to mind is progressive. It’s great to know the School has just turned 50 and is still going strong,” says Miles.
Miles Dale has graciously agreed to be a guest speaker for our students who are interested in pursuing a career in television and film. Bayview Glen School is proud to include Miles Dale amongst our Notable Alumni.