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Barnet Bain Interview for Milton's Secret Film

By October 17, 2016 ,

When I first saw the trailer for the film MILTON’S SECRET, Based on the book by Eckhart Tolle and Robert Friedman, I thought it touched on some many issues facing both kids and families today. There was the topic of bullying, social and emotional disconnect and finding your "self" as your grow.

Barnet Bain Interview for Milton's Secret Film

Of course when the film opened in theaters I had to see it. I really wanted to see how all those issues were expanded on and maybe resolved within the film. I was surprised that MILTON’S SECRET tackled those issues and highlighted a self resolution that was different and refreshing.

To learn why the film went in such an unpredictable direction, I interviewed Barnet Bain, writer/director for MILTON’S SECRET. Barnet shared his thoughts on how the film differed from the book, gardening and overcoming bullies.

Milton's Secret Film

Onica {Mommy Factor}: What inspired you for the films story-line and characters?

Barnet Bain: I was given the galleys for the MILTON’S SECRET book by Eckhart Tolle and Robert Friedman. After I read it, I thought even though this is a book for very young people, I recognized the opportunity to make a film for adults and for the whole family.

Using the basic situations and the characters, I thought I could make the children older, make the issue facing them more relevant, and begin to build out a story about the uncertain times that families live in.

Milton's Secret Film

Onica {Mommy Factor}: The garden that the grandfather started renovating became it's own character in the film. Was that intentional?

Barnet Bain: It was totally intentional. I wanted to show, but not tell, a character who found beauty wherever he went. But also contributed to making beauty wherever he went. And what happens to people around when a character like that is in the midst of their lives. What's the impact of it.

So without him saying anything, it changes ho everybody else in the family behaves. So that was important to me. I've had similar experiences. Not around the gardens but I have been left with the experience of THAT in my life. Of seeing how being around someone, who loves life, who is not constantly distracted by thoughts of the future or worries about the past, who's able to hold that in a balance. Someone who is more fully present with what's going on in the here and now.

I've had experience about how that can change people. I thought the garden is a really good metaphor because everyone's life, the family, really is a garden that he tends.

Milton's Secret Film

Onica {Mommy Factor}: Can you talk about the scenes when Milton's takes "moments" and he goes into his mind? Kids these days don't do this.

Barnet Bain: Very few people do this. And very few people do it in the way he does it. Everybody "self talks". Every person in the world has a little voice in their head that says your "not doing it good enough" or "This is a dangerous situation" or "If you wear those shoes to school, you'll be laughed at", etc.

Everybody has that. I wanted to show that. I wanted to show a boy who has that inner voice. I wanted to share with the audience what his thoughts were. And then later, at the end when he does it, I wanted to show what if you are suddenly aware of your inner voice. In the end suddenly were hearing his voice coming back to this thoughts.

Very few people in the world does this, but maybe it's because not everybody has slowed down and had the thought of "maybe I can do that".

One of the beautiful things about the movies, is that it takes extraordinary behavior and makes it ordinary. And suddenly when people watch that, they think "I can do that".

Milton's Secret Film

Onica {Mommy Factor}: I was surprised how the "bullying issue" worked itself out in the movie. Why did you decide to resolve Milton's bullying issue this way?

Barnet Bain: What's usually in a movie like this is the retribution scene. Where you come back and the bully gets paid back. What was interesting to me, is if you have a boy who suddenly is aware of this thoughts. Suddenly he has these thoughts in his head "I'm afraid but I'm not really in danger right now". That's the on stage scene.

Once that happens, things begin to change inside our heads, inside our beings. So now their in the bathroom scene and the bully is not as threatening anymore. Milton is able to look at him and say "Wow, that kid is afraid. I understand why he is a bully. All that bullying swagger is covering up something. And I know because I have my own internal thoughts, and their covering up something"

So Milton suddenly sees he doesn't need to be so frighten of the bully because he's just as scared as he is. Now I'm aware that scene could have gone a number of ways. But it didn't and it doesn't always have to. Because suddenly the bully felt seen. So it kind of breaks the spell.

Milton's Secret Film

Barnet Bain: Then we're in the scene in the theater and the bully on stage is tied. Milton understand where he's coming from. Now he has a choice. He can either watch him suffer or he can help. But Milton has suffered. It doesn't feel good, so why would he let him. So Milton decides he's going to help.

It doesn't mean they'll becomes friends. It just means Milton doesn't have to continue to be terrified of the bully. That he understands him. You can't understand another person more then you can understand yourself.

So the movie is really a story of Milton understanding a tiny little bit about his thoughts of fear. And having him and the audience see where they come from. They come from the family who's trained him to be anxious. They're always anxious. And he has a grandfather who's not anxious. Which shows the world isn't entirely this way.

Which was a great point to end our interview on. Life is filled with moments that make us fearful but taking time to stop and connect with ourselves can help us get thought those moments!

Milton's Secret Film Images and Trailer


Milton (William Ainscough) is a 12 year-old boy growing up in an economically and socially unpredictable world. His mother and father (Mia Kirshner, David Sutcliffe) are workaholics with marital and financial problems, and he is bullied at school.

When his grandfather (Donald Sutherland) visits, Milton learns rehashing the past and worrying about the future are preventing him from finding true happiness.

Stars: Donald Sutherland, Michelle Rodriguez, Mia Kirshner, David Sutcliffe, and William Ainscough.

MILTON'S SECRET is directed by Barnet Bain and produced by Sean Buckley, Fred Fuchs, Ryan Lockwood, and Stephen Huszar. The script was written by Donald Martin, Sarah B. Cooper and Barnet Bain. Director of Photography is Ray Dumas CSC. Music is by Michael Brook. Editor is Dev Singh.

To learn more, visit - www.miltonssecretmovie.com

On Facebook - www.facebook.com/MiltonsSecretMovie
On Twitter - www.twitter.com/miltonssecret

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