His company, Dollamur, participated in the filming of the story of gold-medal-winning wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz and their involvement at the Foxcatcher Farms training facility owned by multi-millionaire John du Pont by providing singlets and warm-ups used in the movie. What's more, Miller himself has a role in the film, essentially playing himself as the then-executive director of USA Wrestling, negotiating with du Pont.
Dollamur supplied custom mats for "Foxcatcher"From the perspectives as a supplier and actor, Miller is able to provide a behind-the-scenes look into the making of "Foxcatcher" which debuted in a total of six theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on November 14, and is slowly being rolled out in selected cities week-by-week for the next couple months ... a strategy often employed by studios that believe that a particular film could receive Oscar nominations. In the case of "Foxcatcher", that is not a far-fetched possibility. As of this writing, most reviews have been very positive, with speculation that principal actors Channing Tatum (who plays Mark Schultz), Mark Ruffalo (Dave Schultz) and Steve Carell (John du Pont) are in the running for best actor nominations, along with possible best director honors for Bennett Miller, and even possible consideration for best picture.
Dollamur's supporting role in "Foxcatcher"
While most moviegoers won't give a second thought to the wrestling mats and uniforms featured in "Foxcatcher", serious wrestling fans will be glad to know that these items were supplied by a company that has been actively involved in the sport for more than two decades.
"Our All-American Wrestling Supply has provided singlets and warm-ups for USA Wrestling," according to Dollamur National Sales Manager Dave Miller, a Madison, Wis. native who wrestled, coached and officiated matches. "Ed Hardy, the movie's athletic costumer, asked us to duplicate warm-ups and uniforms for the movie. We used photos and videos of foreign opponents, and then shared all that information with Cliff Keen Athletic who manufactured the costumes."
"I'd say 90% of the uniforms -- singlets and warm-ups -- were custom-made," said Miller.
"We did our level best to replicate the actual uniforms worn by the wrestlers portrayed in the movie," Miller continued. "I think that gives a good idea of how dedicated the director was to getting the details right."
As for the actual wrestling surfaces ... "Every mat in the movie, we made," said Miller. "We made mats we've never made before. We even made Olympic-looking mat covers."
And, in a case of history repeating itself, Dollamur made all the mats in the movie set of the Foxcatcher Farms wrestling training facility ... as well as the mats for the original facility located in suburban Philadelphia.
"They built a replica of the original training facility in an abandoned school outside Pittsburgh," Dave Miller disclosed. "It was incredible how it looked just like the original."
"(Director) Bennett Miller was meticulous."
Dave Miller the actor, portraying himself
In addition to the mats and uniforms from Dave Miller's company playing a role in the movie, the man himself also appears in "Foxcatcher."
"I basically played myself," said Miller, who, at the time the movie was set, was the executive director of USA Wrestling. "The scene shows where I'm negotiating a deal with du Pont. We had wanted Dave Schultz to be head coach at USA Wrestling. In the end, USA Wrestling got du Pont's financial support, while he got to keep Dave as coach at Foxcatcher."
(The "Philadelphia Inquirer" reported in a September 15, 1988 story that du Pont, 49 at the time, was named USA Wrestling's "worldwide representative" and chief sponsor after meeting with USA Wrestling executive director Dave Miller. This agreement was made one month after the Villanova University wrestling program founded by du Pont was dropped and his ties with the school severed, according to the paper.)
"Dave's preference would have been to come out to Colorado to be USA Wrestling's coach," Miller continued. "But he wanted to take care of his family, and saw his continued involvement with du Pont and Foxcatcher as the best way to do that. He knew that USA Wrestling be in good hands whoever was coach."
Dave MillerDave Miller pointed out one significant difference between real life and the reel portrayal of his meeting with the wrestling benefactor.
"In actuality, I negotiated a deal with du Pont alone," according to Miller. "In the movie, in addition to du Pont and me, we're joined by Mark Ruffalo as Dave Schultz, and others."
It was at this point in the interview where Miller shared his you-are-there perspective as an actor in "Foxcatcher", providing insight into just how much goes into the making of a major motion picture from a director whose two previous works -- "Capote" and "Moneyball" -- earned numerous awards.
"The scene was set in what was supposed to be du Pont's office," Miller disclosed. "However, it was filmed at a mansion at a resort somewhere in West Virginia, about a three-hour drive south of Pittsburgh. There were so many twists and turns getting there, to this day, I don't think I could find it again on my own."
Because the actual du Pont mansion in Newtown Square has been bulldozed and the former Foxcatcher Farms 700-acre estate is in the process of being developed into a new community of approximately 700 high-end townhouses and individual homes, much of the movie was shot in the Pittsburgh area.
According to Dave Miller, the actual filming of "Foxcatcher" took four-and-a-half months. More than once in his interview with InterMat, Miller cited the detail-oriented nature of director Bennett Miller, and the level of attention to the smallest detail to make sure the film was accurate ... especially the wrestling.
"The number one guy who helped teach the actors how to wrestle was John Guira," said Dave Miller. "As consultant, he not only taught Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum the sport, but also how to duplicate the actual moves of the wrestlers they were portraying, right down to nailing their every unique idiosyncrasy."
This obsession with accuracy extended beyond the actors' performance while wearing singlets provided by Dollamur. As Dave Miller shared, "Mark Ruffalo spent an entire day asking me questions about Dave Schultz. For instance, he wanted to know exactly how Dave shook hands. During the filming, Ruffalo looked and acted like Dave."
"Steve Carell took two-and-a-half hours to get made up to look like John du Pont. He had to be in the dressing room at about 5:30 each morning. Then it took about an hour at night to remove the makeup."
"I knew du Pont as well as anyone," Miller continued. "It was almost scary how Carell looked and acted like du Pont. He was truly amazing in his ability to capture the essence of the guy."
Dave Miller has fond memories of working with the actors and crew of "Foxcatcher".
"All these people were the nicest people," according to Miller. "My kid is a huge fan of Steve Carell, so I wanted to get a photo of him, not as du Pont, but as my son would recognize him. Even though it took so much time to remove his du Pont make up, Carell did it, and posed for the photo, all very graciously."
For another behind-scenes look at the making of "Foxcatcher", check out the January 2013 InterMat article on Fred Feeney, the real-life wrestling referee who played a mat official in the movie, and served as a consultant.