Sisterhood: A Relationship of Heart and the Arts, An Ocean Apart

Recording artist Amy Milner and actor/director/dancer Buffy Milner shares their thoughts on sibling support, affection, creativity and staying ambitious through lockdown.

Words by: Amy Milner and Buffy Milner

Amy: Rewind twenty years, and it was clear for all who came into contact with my four-year-old sister and six-year-old self, that we were destined for careers in the arts. Relentlessly subjecting family and friends to meticulously choreographed fairy dances, vigorous vocal performances, and the like. It was just a matter of time. 

A jump back to the present, and Buffy, having graduated from the New York Film Academy, is now a working actor in Los Angeles, with a host of impressive strings to her bow (she has insane camera and skateboard handling skills, plays drums and knows karate, to name a few). Less decisive with my choice of university course – singing/songwriting had always been my Plan A, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to study it but it wasn’t long before I decided to dedicate myself entirely to music.

Buff has always been one of my biggest supporters in whatever I do. But most importantly, she has held me up, lifted my spirits, and pep-talked me through the doubts, tough decisions, and moments of total despair that have come hand-in-hand with this particular career path. The entertainment industry is a tough nut to crack. You HAVE to believe, stay strong, deal with being totally broke, and battle your way through. Our work is never going to please everybody. It’s not supposed to. But with that comes criticism, setbacks, and discouragement. It can be hard to snuff out the bad stuff sometimes, and it is invaluable to have my sister as a constant voice of optimism, an opinion to trust, and rock to lean on anytime.

A while before the release of my latest single “Wildside”, myself and the team had decided we should make a video to accompany it. We’d begun planning when coronavirus came bulldozing. Lockdown hit, and we were back to the drawing board. 

It then occurred to me that my ordinarily extremely busy sister might just have some time on her hands, being in a similarly locked-down state over in LA. Not only that, but she was in isolation with two incredible actors/dancers, Brandon Koen and Jacqueline Hahn.

The moment we started discussing plans and ideas, Buffy treated the task as though it were as important as something she was getting paid the big bucks for. She was so efficient, so professional and, better still, as excited about it as I was. The crux: we care for each others’ work and success as much as we do our own. I remember idling over every note I added to the score of her short film Type a couple of years back. I cared so much about getting it right for her. 

Less than a week after broaching the subject of the “Wildside” video with her – bam! Buffy had returned to us a length of absolutely stunningly edited footage of herself, Brandon and Jac performing high up in the Malibu mountains whilst getting their daily dose of vitamin D. The song’s producer Tim, who happens to be a bit of a camera nut, mailed me the means to record my appearances. I just had to grab a blank wall and arrange some lighting, before singing into the camera double time to create a slo-mo effect.

The two sets of footage were subsequently edited together. The idea is that, while I narrate, the stateside trio are a physical expression of the inside of my mind. 

I could not have asked for a better representation of the song. I know that I am so lucky to have had Buffy and her gifted friends to call upon, and I’m incredibly proud of what we put together, with minimal resources and under the restrictions of a global pandemic!

Others will inevitably come and go in my career, and my life beyond that, but through thick and thin my sister will be there. I know for certain that I can count on that wise-cracking, confidence-boosting, comforting voice on the other end of the phone, and better still, on the occasions when it’s possible, by my side. For all things frivolous to dead-important, she’s got my back. And I’ve got hers. 

Buffy: For as long as I can remember Amy has been my biggest inspo. I always stole her clothes and toys and friends and basically wanted to be her which must have been quite frustrating for a 6-year-old. True to her nature she handled it with grace and kindness and continued to lead by example. The best example. Her talent and work ethic always did and still does inspire me to work harder and be better. I’m her number one fan and still get chills and an overwhelming sense of pride when I listen to her music. The voice in my head, and sometimes out loud, screams THAT’S MY SISTER.

We both work in an industry where hearing “no” all the time is just part of the job. Rejection is tough though and learning not to take it personally takes time, but having someone on the sidelines who understands what it’s like and is always screaming YES from your corner definitely makes it easier. 

I know my sister was born to do exactly what she is doing and I hold her work at such a high standard. So when she asked me to make THE video for “Wildside” I was excited, taken aback, honored and a little bit scared all at the same time. When we virtually sat down to discuss ideas I had made notes in preparation for the ‘meeting’. Amy was not expecting my formal approach but I was so serious. I wanted to make her as proud as she makes me and more importantly I wanted to do the song justice. The lyrics to the song are so thought out and powerful and I wanted the video to reflect that. 

I attempted to pick Amy’s brain for any clues she could give me for what she wanted from the video and she kept saying she wanted me to have creative freedom and she trusted me. It was such an amazing feeling, the mutual trust not only on a sister level but within our art, our work! And I know my sister, she’s a perfectionist and it shows, nothing is ever half-arsed. It’s all or nothing. So this was a big deal. I’m so proud to be able to create content in the realm of greatness that I place her work. Also how cool is it that any time I need a soundtrack or score for my movies, I have my super sis on speed dial? 

I love every second of collaborating with my super sis. I’m so excited for what’s to come, this is only the beginning.

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