09th Jan2015

Ten questions with ‘Dinosaur 13’ director Todd Miller

by Phil Wheat

Documentary Dinosaur 13 depicts the event of 1990, when American fossil hunter Pete Larson and his team discovered the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found while digging in the badlands of South Dakota. However the skeleton was seized from Larson by the federal government. What followed was a ten-year long battle with the FBI, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Maurice Williams, the landowner on whose property the bones were discovered. With the film due for release on DVD by Dogwoof on January 12th, we posed 10 questions to its director, Todd Miller… Plus read on for a special competition!


1) So Todd, give us the lowdown on why you decided to make Dinosaur 13

I read the book Rex Appeal, which was written by Pete Larson (the paleontologist) and Kristin Donnan. I became fascinated by the story and saw that it was written in a cinematic language that I thought would translate well to the screen.

2) How did you come to hear the story of the discovery of Sue, a 65 million year old T-Rex discovery in 1990

I first heard bits and pieces about Sue when I was younger, but I didn’t know the real story until I read Rex Appeal.

3) The film doesn’t follow the traditional structure of a documentary. Tell us more about the style of the film

It was important for us to have first-person narratives, and we wanted to make sure that we got as many perspectives as we could. We also wanted to make more of a film, as opposed to a traditional verite doc.

4) How did you approach paleontologist Peter Larson who made the discovery?

We spoke on the phone several times before actually meeting. Once I finally visited him and his Institute I knew that it was a story that needed to be told.

5) Did Peter have any reservations about making the film?

Pete had been approached many times over the years by production companies. However, once I explained our approach I think he felt confident enough for us to tell his story.

6) Pete Larson and his team undergo a terrible ordeal at the hands of the FBI and Native American tribes who claim ownership of the T-Rex. Do you think the treatment was justified?

First, I don’t think Pete was treated poorly by the FBI or the tribes—in general. In my research, there were a select few who did treat him poorly, and some of these folks were in positions of power. They also were in positions of trying to support political or other agendas, which is what makes the subject so rich and also confusing sometimes.

7) How did you fund the film?

With my own money.

8) What was the reaction like to Dinosaur 13 in the US?

Overwhelmingly positive.

9) You are an award-winning short filmmaker and this is your first feature-length film. What advise do you have for budding filmmakers wishing to make documentaries

First and foremost, I would suggest they find a good story that they’re passionate about. If you do what you love, you’ll always be happy.

10) What projects are you currently working on?

We’re working on two projects: an event that happened in the space industry and an underwater discovery that happened 25 years ago.


We have THREE copies of Dinosaur 13 to giveaway as well as three posters! To win, just answer the following question:

Which of the following is also a film directed by Todd Miller? Is it:
a) Catfish
b) Scaring the Fish
c) Big Fish

Email your answer to NerdlyComps@gmail.com, making sure to include your name and address. You can also leave your answer on our Facebook page, just make sure to like us first or your entry will be invalid.

Competition closes January 26th 2015.

• Open to UK participants only.
• The winner will be drawn at random from all the correct entries, and only they will be contacted personally. Prize must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.
• Nerdly do not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries due to the Internet or email problems. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entrants must supply full details as required on the competition page, and comply with all rules to be eligible for the prizes.
• No responsibility is accepted for ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently.
• Unless otherwise stated, the Competition is not open to employees of: (a) the Company; and (b) any third party appointed by the Company to organise and/or manage the Competition; and (c) the Competition sponsor(s).
• This competition is a game promoted by Nerdly.co.uk. Our decision is final in every situation and no correspondence will be entered into.
• Nerdly reserves the right to cancel the competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.
• Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering this competition.

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