AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Milk
Director: Gus Van Sant (Dir)
Release Date:   Nov 2008
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 26 Nov 2008
Production Date:   started Jan 2008 in San Francisco
Duration (in mins):   127
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Sean Penn (Harvey Milk)  
    Emile Hirsch (Cleve Jones)  
    Josh Brolin (Dan White)  
    Diego Luna (Jack Lira)  
    James Franco (Scott Smith)  
    Alison Pill (Anne Kronenberg)  
    Victor Garber (Mayor [George] Moscone)  
    Denis O'Hare (John Briggs)  
    Joseph Cross (Dick Pabich)  
    Stephen Spinella (Rick Stokes)  
    Lucas Grabeel (Danny Nicoletta)  
    Brandon Boyce (Jim Rivaldo)  
    Zvi Howard Rosenman (David Goodstein)  
    Kelvin Yu (Michael Wong)  
    Jeff Koons (Art Agnos)  
    Ted Jan Roberts (Dennis Peron)  
    Robert Boyd Holbrook (Denton Smith)  
    Frank Robinson (Himself)  
    Allan Baird (Himself)  
    Tom Ammiano (Himself)  
    Carol Ruth Silver (Thelma)  
    Hope Goblirsch (Mary Ann White)  
    Steven Wiig (McConnelly)  
    Ashlee Temple (Dianne Feinstein)  
    Wendy King (Carol Ruth Silver)  
    Kelvin Han Yee (Gordon Lau)  
    Robert Chimento (Phil Burton)  
    Ginabel Machado (Lily)  
    Daniel Landroche (Young teen)  
    Trace Webb (Boy with flier)  
    Velina Brown (Morning show host)  
    Scott Patrick Green (House boy)  
    Mary Dilts (Channel 5 reporter)  
    Roman Alcides (City hall engineer)  
    Robert George Nelson (San Francisco cop no. 1)  
    Brian Danker (San Francisco cop no. 2)  
    Richard Gross (Riot cop)  
    Borzin Mottaghian (Briggs' driver)  
    Brian Yates Sharber (Gay man)  
    Camron Palmer (Medora Paine)  
    Cully Fredricksen (Assistant sheriff)  
    Mark Martinez (Sylvester)  
    Daniel Glicker (Customer)  
    Catherine Cook (Opera performa -- Tosca)  
    Joe Meyers (Opera performer -- Spoletta)  
    Dominic Sahagun (Another protester)  
    William McElroy (Barber)  
    Joey Hoeber (Union man)  
    Mark E. Stanger (Priest)  
    Christopher Greene (Reporter)  
    Jesse Caldwell (Chamber clerk)  
    Paul Arnold (Supervisor)  
    Jack Dunston (Supervisor)  
    Ron Gruetter (Supervisor)  
    Awele Makeba (Supervisor)  
    Tony Vella (Supervisor)  
    William M. Verducci (Supervisor)  
    Gilbert Baker (Telephone tree)  
    Shavi Blake (Telephone tree)  
    Brent Corrigan (Telephone tree)  
    Draco Dewar (Telephone tree)  
    Dave Franco (Telephone tree)  
    Alex Gonzalez (Telephone tree)  
    Olen Holm (Telephone tree)  
    Elias McConnell (Telephone tree)  
    Tom Randol (Telephone tree)  
    Lynn McRee (Moscone's secretary)  
    Cleve Jones (Don Amador)  
    John Parson (Castro man)  
    Jay Kerzner (Speaker)  
    Kristen Marie Holly (Anne's friend)  
    Sandi Ippolito (Relative)  
    Roger Groh (Reporter)  
    Maggie Weiland (Girl on motorcycle)  
    Dustin Lance Black (Castro clone)  
    Drew Kuhse (Pizza delivery man)  
    Eric Cook (Robert Hillsborough)  

Summary: In November 1978, ten days before his murder, San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk sits at his kitchen table making an audio recording to be played only in the event of his assassination. As the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the nation, Harvey acknowledges that he could be a victim of the hatred and homophobia still rampant throughout the country, but wants to leave behind an accurate record of his political experiences: Eight years earlier, in the New York City subway, Harvey, an insurance agent, picks up the charming and much younger Scott Smith. After the two have sex at Harvey’s apartment, he reveals that he is turning forty at midnight and laments that he has accomplished nothing with his life. He then expresses doubt that he will live to be fifty. When Scott encourages him to “change scenes,” Harvey agrees and soon after grows a beard and long hair and moves to San Francisco with Scott. Excited by the vibrant energy of the hippies in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and the burgeoning gay neighborhood on Castro street, Harvey and Scott open a camera store there. Despite being rebuffed by the neighborhood merchants, the men are completely open about their homosexuality, and Harvey resolves to form a gay business association to invigorate the community. Harvey’s eagerness draws several young men to the Castro Camera store including teenaged photographer Danny Nicoletta, Harvard graduate Jim Rivaldo, his friend Dick Pabich, Dennis Peron and, later, Michael Wong. Shrewdly assessing that gays would gain strength by demonstrating their economic clout, Harvey readily befriends the teamster representative of the truck drivers’ union, Allan Baird, who asks if Harvey might unite gays in boycotting beer companies refusing to renew union contracts. When Allan agrees to provide jobs for gay drivers in exchange for support, Harvey and his friends organize a ban in gay bars, concentrating on Coors beer when the company refuses to give in. Frustrated when Scott is injured in a police harassment assault, Harvey complains that gays must organize and fight prejudice as African Americans have done. Soon after Harvey announces his decision to run for city supervisor. During his campaign, which Scott manages, Harvey meets spunky young Cleve Jones, a hustler who rejects the older man’s invitation to defeat homophobia through activism. Later, Harvey and Scott call upon prominent attorney and gay journal publisher David Goodstein and his lover, wealthy civil rights lawyer Rick Stokes, seeking an endorsement. Chiding Harvey for his grass-roots efforts, Goodstein explains that they have made progress on gay rights by financially supporting gay-friendly liberal candidates and avoiding the overt lifestyle that characterizes the Castro district with its bathhouses and partying. Insisting that it is time for “one of their own” to be elected, Harvey retracts his request for support and maintains that the gay movement is more important, than any one individual. Although Harvey loses the election, he is determined to try again, this time cutting his hair and beard and wearing conservative suits. Despite losing again in the following year’s election, Harvey is heartened by the increase in votes and doggedly runs a third time. When Harvey’s campaign to “beat the machine” angers the Democratic party and their representative, Art Agnos, Harvey runs for the California State Assembly against Agnos. After a one-on-one debate, Agnos advises Harvey that his campaign is “depressing” and suggests that instead of continually emphasizing what he is against, he should clarify what he is for. Although Harvey loses to Agnos, Dick urges him to a run for supervisor as a new initiative will realign districts placing the Castro and Haight areas in Harvey’s district. Aware that Scott has grown weary of the unending campaigning, Harvey hesitates. To Harvey’s surprise, young Cleve returns to the camera shop. After revealing that while visiting Spain, he was astounded to witnesses a group of gays resist violence during a gay march, Cleve says that he now is motivated to activism. Soon after, Harvey and his friends watch a Florida election centering on an initiative to repeal a four-month-old ordinance protecting gays against job discrimination. Led by singer turned religious conservative spokeswoman Anita Bryant and the Christian backed Moral Majority, the initiative passes, angering gays throughout San Francisco. Applying Agnos’s advice, Harvey makes “hope” his campaign message for his fourth run for supervisor this time against Rick Stokes in the newly aligned District 5. Meanwhile, former policeman and fireman Dan White runs in the working-class, conservative, white District 8, proclaiming that it is time to end the “malignancies” of radicals and social deviates blighting the city. Admitting that he can no longer deal with Harvey’s dedication to politics, Scott breaks with him and moves out. Despite his sadness over Scott, Harvey nevertheless throws himself into his new campaign and recruits lesbian Anne Kronenberg as his new campaign manager. Mildly scorned by Harvey’s support team, Anne nevertheless impresses everyone when she garners Harvey an endorsement in the all important San Francisco Chronicle . When the others go off to celebrate, Harvey remains in the shop, where he meets a drunken but appealing Jack Lira, and the men begin an affair that night. Harvey wins the November 1977 elections and both he and Dan are sworn in by Mayor George Moscone the following January. Assessing that Dan’s severe political stance might be softened by friendly debate, Harvey agrees to appear on a morning television show with him, even though his aids assure him that the former fireman is too rigid ever to adjust his views. Surprised when Dan invites Harvey and the other supervisors to the christening of his son, Harvey attends and is the only supervisor to do so. After the ceremony, Dan asks Harvey if he will help him block the building of a psychiatric center in his district, and Harvey vows to work with him. Soon after, Anne informs Harvey that Bryant’s conservative group is supporting an initiative by California Senator John Briggs to fire all gay teachers and anyone who supports them. Despite Jack’s continual hostility to Harvey’s long hours, Harvey enthusiastically takes on the religiously conservative Briggs and proposition 6. In a meeting with Representative Phil Burton, Goodstein, Stokes and others who had formed two gay-friendly groups against Briggs, Harvey angrily denounces Burton’s anti-proposition 6 brochure, which mentions human rights but avoids references to gays. Later, at a meeting with volunteers and supporters, Harvey insists that gay power lies in being as visible as possible. At city hall, Dan is angered when Harvey refuses to vote against the psychiatric center and laments what he views as the shifty nature of politics. After the Moral Majority scores successes in Iowa and Kansas in repealing employment protection for gays, Harvey, in need of a modest issue to create positive publicity and visibility in the city, proposes an ordinance to clean up city parks of dog feces. Later, when a gay rights, anti-discrimination ordinance put together by Harvey and fellow liberal supervisor Carol Ruth Silver comes to a board vote, Dan, still resentful over Harvey’s betrayal on the psychiatric center, is the only one to vote against it. When a victorious Harvey then visits Dan’s office, Dan bitterly scoffs that Harvey only offers help if he can get something in return. Dan then challenges Harvey to introduce a supervisor pay raise measure, pointing out that while as Dan cannot raise a family on his meager salary, it is an issue that Harvey does not face. Harvey celebrates his forty-eighth birthday and the passage of the anti-discrimination measure with a large party at city hall where Scott mildly chastens him for continuing to live with the erratic, petulant Jack. To Harvey’s surprise, at the party’s end, a drunken Dan appears and praises the popular dog park ordinance, then acknowledges to Harvey that he has a political advantage by having a ready issue in being gay. Some time later, appearing in the gay pride parade despite a death threat, Harvey gives an impassioned speech on the steps of city hall about breaking down cultural and social myths, asserting that the U. S. constitution also serves gays. Meanwhile, Dan is interviewed on television criticizing nudity in the gay parade. After challenging Briggs to a debate, Harvey squares off with him in northern California where Briggs compares homosexuality to bestiality and insists that gays want to “recruit” straight children. Later, Harvey insists on a second debate in the heart of religious-conservative Orange County. On the afternoon of the city park ordinance vote, Harvey is distracted by Jack repeatedly telephoning him, demanding to know exactly when he is returning home. Running into Dan afterward, Harvey attempts to discuss voting issues, but Dan insists he will note trade votes, but follow his conscience and will not be demeaned or humiliated. At home later, Harvey finds the stairwell papered with handwritten notes from Jack, then, to his horror, discovers that Jack has hanged himself. Determined to fight on, Harvey continues organizing against the Briggs initiative, but his supporters remain concerned about the possibility of defeating it. On the night of the elections, Harvey and the others are stunned to learn that proposition 6 has not only been defeated in San Francisco but throughout California. In a celebratory speech afterward, Harvey emphasizes that the defeat has given hope to many persecuted gays. A few days later, a frustrated Dan resigns from the board of supervisors, only to change his mind ten days later and request that Moscone reinstate him. Suspecting that Dan has been coerced by the conservative police association, Harvey meets with Moscone to insist that Dan, the board’s main obstructionist, not be reappointed. A few days later, Dan learns from a reporter that Moscone has decided not to reinstate him. The following morning, Dan goes to city hall, entering through a ground level window. Upon meeting with Moscone, Dan pleads for reinstatement. When rejected, he takes out his a pistol and shoots the mayor. Walking to the opposite end of the building, Dan then asks Harvey to step into his old office and, without comment, shoots him. That night, when a stunned Anne and Scott arrive at a sparsely attended memorial service at city hall, Scott bitterly wonders if anyone cares. Walking back to the Castro, however, the pair is stunned to come upon a candlelight parade of thousands of mourners quietly making their way to city hall to honor Harvey and Moscone. At the close of his audio recording, Harvey recalls receiving a telephone call from a young man in Altoona, Pennsylvania thanking him for his work for gay rights and Harvey’s final plea is that gays must have hope. 

Production Company: Axon Films  
  Groundswell Productions  
  Jinks/Cohen Company  
Production Text: A Gus Van Sant Film
Distribution Company: Focus Features (NBC Universal)
  Groundswell Productions  
Director: Gus Van Sant (Dir)
  David Webb (1st asst dir)
  John R. Saunders (2d asst dir)
  Ian Calip (2d 2d asst dir)
  Cindy A. Taylor (Addl 2d asst dir)
Producer: Barbara A. Hall (Exec prod)
  William Horberg (Exec prod)
  Dustin Lance Black (Exec prod)
  Bruna Papandrea (Exec prod)
  Michael London (Exec prod)
  Dan Jinks (Prod)
  Bruce Cohen (Prod)
Writer: Dustin Lance Black (Wrt)
Photography: Harris Savides (Dir of photog)
  Will Arnot ("A" cam op, steadicam op)
  Patrick McArdle ("A" cam 1st asst)
  Tim Guffin ("A" cam 2d asst)
  Jan Ruona ("B" cam 1st asst)
  John Garrett ("B" cam 2d asst)
  Michael Chin (Addl cam op)
  Caitlin Strom (Cam loader)
  Phil Bray (Still photog)
  Steven Condiotti (Chief lighting tech)
  John D. Lacy (Asst chief lighting tech)
  James Kumarelas (Lamp op)
  Chris McCracken (Lamp op)
  Spencer Mulcahy (Lamp op)
  Michael Olague (Lamp op)
  Sophie Shellenberger (Lamp op)
  Rick Tayerle (Generator op)
  Jeff Gilliam (Chief rigging tech)
  Greg Davies (Asst chief rigging tech)
  David Childers (Key grip)
  Greg Childers (Best boy grip)
  Orlando Orona (Dolly grip)
  Robert McCann ("B" cam dolly grip)
  William J. Barr (Company grip)
  Richard A. Hunt (Company grip)
  Don L. Henderson (Company grip)
  Brook Johnson (Key rigging grip)
  Joseph J. Allen (Best boy rigging grip)
  Clairmont Camera (Cam provided by)
  Dave Childers Film Services (Grip equipment furnished by)
  DTC Stage & Studio Supply (Electric equip furnished by)
Art Direction: Bill Groom (Prod des)
  Charley Beal (Art dir)
  Susan Alegria (Asst art dir)
  Halstead Craig Hannah (Graphic des)
  Brooke Lords (Art dept coord)
Film Editor: Elliot Graham (Ed)
  Eric Hill (1st asst ed)
  Justin Kelly (Ed asst)
  Avid Technology, Inc. (Avid ed system provided by)
  Michael Phillips (Avid ed system provided by)
Set Decoration: Chad Owens (Set des)
  Barbara Munch (Set dec)
  John Micheletos (Leadman)
  Louis Visco (Set dec gang boss)
  Nate Belove (On set dresser)
  Peter Hudson (Set dresser)
  Dan Molnar (Set dresser)
  Michael K. Barnard (Set dresser)
  Katherine Covell (Buyer)
  Catherine Leyba (Set dec coord)
  Chris Ubick (Prop master)
  Patrick Ludden (Asst prop master)
  Anna Rogers (Prop asst)
  Annie Mueller (Prop asst)
  Rich Clot (Const coord)
  Ken Sly (Prop maker gen foreman)
  Ewan Lithgow (Prop maker loc foreman)
  Doug Williams (Prop maker mill foreman)
  Russell Souza (Prop maker gang boss)
  Dale Haugo (Scenic artist / lead painter)
  Tom Richardson (Scenic foreman)
  B. J. Fredrickson (Stand by painter)
  Lauren Abrams (Scenic artist / painter)
  Richard J. Blakely (Scenic artist / painter)
  Jason Byers (Scenic artist / painter)
  James Shefik (Scenic artist / painter)
  Maurice Beesley (Prop maker)
  Carl L. Durning (Prop maker)
  James Eldredge (Prop maker)
  Sean S. House (Prop maker)
  Phil Jacobson (Prop maker)
  Derek Loo (Prop maker)
  Edward J. McNicoll (Prop maker)
  Sam Moore (Prop maker)
  Martin Moreno (Prop maker)
  Martin Pike (Prop maker)
  Stephan C. Sadler (Prop maker)
  Gregg Totten (Prop maker)
  David Vernali (Prop maker)
  Sean Wright (Prop maker)
  Valary Bremier (Const office asst)
Costumes: Danny Glicker (Cost des)
  Audrey Fisher (Asst cost des--Los Angeles)
  Victoria De Kay (Cost supv)
  Michael J. Becker (Key cost)
  Debbie Travis (Key set cost)
  Valerie White (Set cost)
  Andrea Cooper (Cost)
  Diane Cornelius (Cost)
  Christopher Proctor (Cost)
  Deirdre Scully (Cost)
  Nancy Hart Servin (Seamstress)
  Nancy H. Foreman (Seamstress)
Music: Danny Elfman (Mus)
  Jill Meyers (Mus supv)
  Kenneth Karman (Mus ed)
  Bill Abbott (Mus ed)
  Jeannie Lee Marks (Asst mus ed)
  Denise Okimoto (Asst mus ed)
  Danny Elfman (Score prod)
  Thomas Bowes (Orch leader)
  Rick Wentworth (Cond)
  Peter Cobbin (Score rec)
  Dennis Sands (Score mix)
  Chris Barrett (Rec asst eng)
  Laurence Greed (Rec asst eng)
  Adam Olmsted (Mixing digital rec)
  Steve Bartek (Orch)
  Jeff Atmajian (Orch)
  Edgardo Simone (Orch)
  David Slonaker (Orch)
  Isobel Griffiths (Orch contractor)
  Charlotte Matthews (Asst orch contractor)
  Marc Mann (Orch preparation)
  Dakota Music Service (Mus preparation)
  Dave Hage (Mus preparation)
  Yann McCullough (Digital orchestral timings)
  Ian Balmain (Featured musician)
  Nicholas Bucknall (Featured musician)
  John Parricelli (Featured musician)
  Phil Todd (Featured musician)
  Metro Voices (Choir)
  Jenny O'Grady (Choirmaster)
  Reigate St. Mary's Choir School (Boy's choir)
  John Tobin (Boy's choir cond)
  Air Studios, London, England (Score rec at)
Sound: Felix Bruce Andrew (Prod sd mixer / Boom op)
  Neil Riha (Prod sd mixer)
  Michael Primmer (Cableperson)
  Wildfire Post Production Studios (Post prod sd services)
  Leslie Shatz (Sd des and supv sd ed)
  Robert Jackson (Supv dial ed)
  Brian Dunlop (Sd eff/Foley ed)
  Calie Thurman (Sd ed apprentice)
  Leslie Shatz (Re-rec mixer)
  Chris David (Re-rec mixer)
  Gus Van Sant (Re-rec mixer)
  Gabriel J. Serrano (Mix rec)
  Eric Thompson (ADR mixer)
  Travis Mackay (ADR rec)
  Andy Malcolm (Foley artist)
  Goro Koyama (Foley artist)
  Don White (Foley mixer)
Special Effects: Thomas F. Sindicich (Spec eff coord)
  Peter Stolz (Spec eff pyro tech)
  Ij Van Perre Jr. (Spec eff foreman)
  Kent Kay (Spec eff foreman)
  Matthew K. Heron (Spec eff asst)
  Illusion Arts (Visual eff)
  Syd Dutton (Visual eff supv, Illusion Arts)
  Bill Taylor (Visual eff supv, Illusion Arts)
  Chel White (Visual eff supv, Bent Image Lab)
  Catherine Sudolcan (Visual eff prod, Illusion Arts)
  Ray Di Carlo (Visual eff exec prod, Bent Image Lab)
  Tsui Ling Toomer (Visual eff prod, Bent Image Lab)
  Fumi Mashimo (Anim supv, Illusion Arts)
  Andrew Tucker (3D artist, Illusion Arts)
  Van Ling (Digital artist, Illusion Arts)
  Jonathan Banta (Digital artist, Illusion Arts)
  Collin Fowler (Visual eff coord, Illusion Arts)
  Casey Cannon (Rotoscoping, Illusion Arts)
  Tarn Fox (Lead compositor, Bent Image Lab)
  Randy Wakerlin (Compositor, Bent Image Lab)
  Jon Whisman (Compositor, Bent Image Lab)
  Brian Kinkley (Phone tree anim, Bent Image Lab)
  Fred Ruff (Computer graphics artist, Bent Lab Image)
  Chris Barber (Visual eff prod asst, Bent Image Lab)
  Amy Rosko (Visual eff prod asst, Bent Image Lab)
  Paul Curley (Addl visual eff, Bent Image Lab)
  Roger Mocenigo (Addl visual eff, Bent Image Lab)
  Justin Kelly (Addl graphics, Bent Image Lab)
  Pacific Title (Main titles des)
  Rick Sparr (Title prod)
  Jay Johnson (Title des)
Make Up: Steven E. Anderson (Dept head makeup)
  Gretchen Davis Motroni (Key makeup artist)
  Karen Bradley (Makeup artist)
  Michael White (Dept head hair)
  Sterfon Demings (Personal hairstylist to Mr. Penn)
  Debra Dietrich (Kay hairstylist)
  Jennifer Tremont (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Francine Maisler (Casting)
  Nina Henninger (San Francisco casting)
  Lauren Grey (Casting assoc)
  Sarah Kliban (San Francisco casting assoc)
  Elizabeth Chodar (Casting asst)
  Dave Bergland (San Francisco casting asst)
  Beau Bonneau Casting (Extras casting)
  Colleen Kenneavy (Extras casting)
  Barbara A. Hall (Unit prod mgr)
  Janice Williams (Exec in charge of prod)
  Michelle Lankwarden (Prod supv)
  Robert Hackl (Post prod supv)
  Cleve Jones (Historical consultant)
  Danny Nicoletta (Historical photo consultant)
  Kenn Rabin (Archival film researcher)
  Carol De Pasquale (Scr supv)
  Lyn M. Norton (Scr supv)
  Tad Driscoll (Prod accountant)
  Blair Glorious (1st asst accountant)
  Chrissy Coffman (Payroll accountant)
  Stacey Barber (Payroll accountant)
  Stacey T. Matteoli (Accounting asst)
  Briana Krompier (Accounting asst)
  Sharlene F. Duale (Prod coord)
  Daniel Lee (Asst prod coord)
  Juliet Osman (Prod office asst)
  Andrew Rozal (Prod office asst)
  Richard Enriquez (Prod office asst)
  Jeff Mellinger (Prod office asst)
  Jonathan Shedd (Loc mgr)
  Matthew Riutta (Key asst loc mgr)
  Dan Cooley (Asst loc mgr)
  Felix Gehm (Asst loc mgr)
  Saisie M. Jang (Asst loc mgr)
  Peter Moody (Asst loc mgr)
  Kari Coleman (Asst to Mr. Van Sant)
  Scott Green (Asst to Mr. Van Sant)
  Timothy C. Rogier (Asst to Mr. Jinks and Mr. Cohen)
  Elizabeth Grave (Asst to Mr. London)
  Brinton Lukens (Asst to Ms. Papandrea)
  Sato Masuzawa (Asst to Mr. Penn)
  Matt Miller (Key set prod asst)
  James Ferrera (Unit pub)
  Mark Bosia (Set medic)
  Mark Caplin (Set medic)
  Hat Trick Catering (Catering)
  Peter A. Lowe Jr. (Head chef)
  Jose Chavez (Asst chef)
  Chris Nesbitt (Cook)
  Anderson Penn (Cook)
  Christopher Rhodes (Server)
  James Chandler (Lead craft service)
  Sandy Reed (Crafts service asst)
  Dan Marrow (Transportation coord)
  Edward Lee Voelker (Transportation capt--Los Angeles)
  Tony Sacco (Transportation capt--San Francisco)
  Chester J. Badalato (Driver for Mr. Penn)
  Arthur Casey (Driver)
  Craig T. Crowell (Driver)
  Diana Curtis (Driver)
  Jack E. Curtis (Driver)
  David R. Diaz (Driver)
  James A. Dingman (Driver)
  Clark J. Dolan (Driver)
  Lee Everett (Driver)
  John F. Fahey (Driver)
  Ken Fleisch (Driver)
  Richard D. Gill (Driver)
  Michael W. Grooms (Driver)
  Bruce Hathaway (Driver)
  Erik Hattan (Driver)
  Michael E. Houston (Driver)
  Reggie Jackson (Driver)
  Milton L. Jeffers (Driver)
  Joseph A. Juvera Jr. (Driver)
  Jody Kreinbrink (Driver)
  Edward A. Lassak (Driver)
  Dannie Lenz (Driver)
  John A. Levi (Driver)
  Cecil McClain (Driver)
  Anthony Riedel (Driver)
  Roman Robles (Driver)
  Emilio Rodriguez (Driver)
  Gregory T. Rogers (Driver)
  Jose M. Sanchez (Driver)
  Gary D. Stalker (Driver)
  Lindsey Boyd (Prod asst)
  Eric Cook (Prod asst)
  Cary Field (Prod asst)
  Jonathan James (Prod asst)
  Jennifer Jourdan (Prod asst)
  Marie Kennell (Prod asst)
  Marella Martin (Prod asst)
  Max Newman (Prod asst)
  Bill Pope (Prod asst)
  Overall Security & Associates (Security)
  Carolyn Crimley (Studio teacher)
  Animal Arts (Animal trainer)
  Greg Holland (Animal trainer)
  Rebecca Humber (American Humane Association representative)
  Entertainment Clearances (Rights and clearances)
  Laura Sevier (Rights and clearances)
  Cassandra Barbour (Rights and clearances)
  David Boyle (Business and legal affairs)
  Sharon Steinhauser (Business and legal affairs)
  Steven Montgomery (Business and legal affairs)
  Elizabeth A. Stephens (Business and legal affairs)
  Ryan Cheevers (Business and legal affairs)
  Michael London (Chief exe officer, Groundswell Productions)
  Bruna Papandrea (Pres, Groundswell Productions)
  Jonathan Fischer (Chief operating officer, Groundswell Productions)
  Janice Williams (Head of physical prod, Groundswell Productions)
  Daniel Pipski (Sr vice pres, prod, Groundswell Productions)
  Juliana Farrell (Vice pres, Groundswell Productions)
  Francey Grace (Prod exec, Groundswell Productions)
  Elizabeth Grave (Asst to Mr. London, Groundswell Productions)
  Brinton Lukens (Asst to Ms. Papandrea, Groundswell Productions)
  Eric Borja (Asst to Mr. Fischer, Groundswell Productions)
  Ashley Burleson (Asst to Mr. Pipski, Groundswell Productions)
  Film Finances (Completion guaranty provided by)
  DeWitt Stern of California Insurance Services (Insurance services provided by)
  Cast & Crew Entertainment Services (Payroll services provided by)
  Twins Financing LLC (Prod in assoc with)
Stand In: Rocky Capella (Stunt coord)
  Kevin Bailey (Stunts)
  Jennifer Caputo (Stunts)
  Chris Carnel (Stunts)
  Paul Crawford (Stunts)
  Tom Ficke (Stunts)
  John Hay (Stunts)
  Kevin Larson (Stunts)
  Mike Martinez (Stunts)
  Tim Meridith (Stunts)
  Danton Mew (Stunts)
  Jeff Mosley (Stunts)
  Mike Owen (Stunts)
  Rex Reddick (Stunts)
  Adam Kamil (Stand-in for Mr. Penn)
  Lenny Ciacci (Stand-in)
Color Personnel: EFILM (Digital Intermediate)
  Mike Hatzer (Digital intermediate colorist, EFILM)
  Loan Phan (Digital intermediate prod, EFILM)
  Devon Miller (Digital intermediate ed, EFILM)
  Chris Jensen (Colorist asst, EFILM)
  Philippe Majdalani (Digital intermediate asst prod, EFILM)
  Patrick Clancey (Digital opt, EFILM)
  Mark Sachen (Technicolor dailies colorist)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: Prelude No. 7 in E-flat from The Well Tempered Clavier , Book II BWV 876 by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged by Ward Swingle, performed by The Swingle Singers, courtesy of Universal International Music, B.V. under license from Universal Music Enterprises; “Kalinka (Little Snowfall)” by Ivan Petrovich Larionov, performed by Vienna Choir Boys, courtesy of Koch International; “Queen Bitch,” written by David Bowie, performed by David Bowie, courtesy of RZO Music; “Ah, Quegli Occhi! Quale Occhio al Mondo” from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Maria Callas, Giuseppe Di Stefano and the Orchestra Del Teatro All Scala, conducted by Victor De Sabata, courtesy of EMI Classics under license from EMI Film & Television Music; “Rock the Boat,” written by Wally Holmes, performed by The Hues Corporation, courtesy of JiMi Lane Music; “Takin’ My Time,” written by Robert Hackl and Ken Stange, performed by Victoria Hamilton; "E Lucevan le Stelle” from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Giuseppe Di Stefano and the Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, conducted by Victor De Sabata, courtesy of EMI Classic under license from EMI Film & Television Music; “Hello Hello,” written by Peter Kraemer and Terry McNeil, performed by The Sopwith Camel, courtesy of Buddah Records by arrangement with SONY BMG Music Entertainment; “Mia Gelosa!” from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Maria Callas, Giuseppe De Stefano and the Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, conducted by Victor De Sabata, courtesy of EMI Classic under license from EMI Film & Television Music; "Everyday People," written by Sylvester Stewart, performed by Sly & the Family Stone, courtesy of Epic Records by arrangement with SONY BMG Music Entertainment; “Love in C Minor,” written by Alec Costandinos and Cerrone, performed by Cerrone, courtesy of Malligator Productions S.a.r.l. by arrangement with The Licensing Partnership UK Ltd.; “Wake Up, San Francisco,” written by Ken Stange and Robert Hackl, performed by Sourcerer; “Till Victory,” written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, performed by Patti Smith Group, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc. by arrangement with SONY BMG Music Entertainment; “The Player,” written by Alan Felder and Norman Harris, performed by First Choice, courtesy of Brookside Music Corp., o/b/o Philly Groove Records, Inc. by arrangement with Reid Whitelaw Productions; "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" K535 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged by Ward Swingle, performed by The Swingle Singers, courtesy of Universal International Music B.V. under license from Universal Music Enterprises; “Happy Birthday to You,” written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill; “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” written by Sylvester James and James Wirrick, performed by Sylvester, courtesy of Concord Music Group, Inc.; “Over the Rainbow,” written by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen, performed by Judy Garland, courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.; “The Washington Post March,” written by John Philip Sousa; “Presto, su! Mario! Mario!” by Giacomo Puccini, performed by The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Rahbari, courtesy of Naxos by arrangement with Source/Q; “Walk Through ‘Resonant Landscape’ No. 2,” written and performed by Frances White, courtesy of Mode Records.
Composer: Harold Arlen
  Johann Sebastian Bach
  David Bowie
  Cerrone
  Alec Costandinos
  Alan Felder
  Robert Hackl
  E. Y. Harburg
  Norman Harris
  Mildred J. Hill
  Patty S. Hill
  Wally Holmes
  Sylvester James
  Lenny Kaye
  Peter Kraemer
  Ivan Petrovich Larionov
  Terry McNeil
  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  Giacomo Puccini
  Patti Smith
  John Philip Sousa
  Ken Stange
  Sylvester Stewart
  Frances White
  James Wirrick
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Axon Film Finance I, LLC & Milk Productions, LLC. 10/1/2008 dd/mm/yyyy V3561D716

PCA NO: 44714
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Digital; dts in selected theatres
  col: deluxe
  Lenses/Prints: deluxe; Kodak

 
Genre: Biography
  Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Assassination
  Bigotry
  Elections
  Homosexuality
  Harvey Milk
  Politics
  San Francisco (CA)
 
Subjects (Minor): Bars
  Beer
  Boycotts
  Businessmen
  Debates
  Dogs
  Drunkenness
  Envy
  Friendship
  Homophobia
  Jealousy
  Mayors
  Newspapers
  New York City
  Parades
  Parks
  Parties
  Police
  Political campaigns
  Protest marches
  Reporters
  Romance
  Sex
  Speeches
  Suicide
  Television news and information
  Trade unions

Note: Opening credits feature black-and-white television news footage and newspaper headlines chronicling the arrest of men at gay bars across the United States. The title of the film, which appears after the credit for Sean Penn, follows the opening sequence of Penn as Harvey Milk recording an audio tape to be played in the event of his assassination crosscuts to actual news footage from 27 Nov 1978. The news footage shows San Francisco’s city hall as police arrive and president of the board of city supervisors Dianne Feinstein announces that Milk and Mayor George Moscone have been shot and killed. The main title is then repeated in larger letters than the earlier credit.
       Milk was shot on location in San Francisco, utilizing city hall and various locations in the Castro District, including recreating Milk’s Castro Camera shop on Castro Street. News footage of San Francisco neighborhoods, confrontations between gay men and police and local election reports appear throughout the film, as well as footage of religious conservative Anita Bryant, and the candlelight march in San Francisco honoring Milk and Moscone.        In some scenes in Milk , footage of the actors is made to look like television news footage, recreating actual broadcast events. Several people who were involved with Milk during his political career appear in the film, including Frank Robinson and Tom Ammiano, who play themselves in bit roles. Fellow board supervisor Carol Ruth Silver appears portraying a minor background character, as does Milk's close friend, campaign associate and the film's advisor, Cleve Jones.
       Closing credits feature consecutive pictures of the actors, accompanied by brief written accounts of their characters’ lives after Milk’s death. These are followed by actual pictures of their real-life counterparts over same written statement. Closing credits include a number of written acknowledgments, among them friends, relatives and associates of Milk and Moscone, individuals and organizations including The San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band, The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and merchants and residents of the Castro District. Acknowledgment was also given to the numerous sources for moving and still images used in Milk , including the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, Getty Images and many of San Francisco’s local television stations. Special acknowledgment was made to director Rob Epstein and his Academy Award winning 1984 documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk , from which footage was used in Milk .
       According to a 13 Apr 2007 DV , directors Bryan Singer and Gus Van Sant were simultaneously vying to make separate film productions on the life of gay activist Harvey Milk (1930-1978). Singer’s project was based on the book by journalist Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk , published in 1982. The article states the project had been languishing for more than fifteen years at Warner Bros., which had brought on Singer two years previously. DV reported that the studio was close to a deal with Participant Productions to co-finance the project with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron producing, based on a screenplay by Chris McQuarrie. In the same article, Van Sant is mentioned as having recently attached himself to an untitled script on Milk by Dustin Lance Blank. The article goes on to note that Zadon suggested that the enormous success of Focus Features’ 2005 film Brokeback Mountain (see above), a fictional story about two gay men, might finally suggest the time was right for a film on Milk. A 10 Sep 2007 HR article announced Penn’s attachment to the Van Sant–Black project and added that the director hoped to secure Matt Damon for the role of “Dan White.”
       In a 19 Nov 2007 news item, DV reported that Van Sant and Focus Features had beat out Warners and Singer, whose production was listed as “in limbo” due to the long-running writers’ strike going on at the time. The article also revealed that Van Sant had at one time been involved with the Mayor of Castro Street project. In a 30 Nov 2008 LAT article, Milk associate Cleve Jones noted that Van Sant was originally considered for the Castro project eighteen-years earlier, when the two had met and briefly lived together. Around 2005 Jones met Black and supported his efforts to write a script on Milk’s life, then introduced Black to Van Sant. In a 1 Dec 2008 HR article about the production history of Milk , Van Sant was mentioned as having replaced Oliver Stone on the Castro/Black project in the early 1990s.
       Although many events in Milk are compressed and out-of-sequence from Milk's real life, the film duplicates several events from his political career, many of which were documented by local television news. Milk did, indeed, open many of his speeches with the introduction used throughout the film: “My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.” The "political will" recorded by Milk on audiocassettes, and which serves as the film’s narrative framing device, was recorded a year prior to his murder, despite the film's situating the event days before the shootings. Milk recorded three versions for various individuals and the most succinct one was reproduced in Shilts’s book and used in the film. According to Shilts’s book (which was not used as a source for the film), Milk’s main purpose in making the tapes was to encourage his supporters not to react to his possible death by violence with further violence, but to use the event to continue his call to gays to be more open to end the discrimination against them. In one of the tapes, Milk stated: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door." Milk, who hoped his tape recording would influence the selection of his board successor, emphatically spoke out against gay-moderates, including Rick Stokes, who is portrayed in the film. Board president Feinstein appointed Harry Britt, one of four individuals recommended by Milk, as his successor. Feinstein appears in news footage at the opening of the film, announcing the murders. Although an actor is credited for portraying her in Milk , as a character she is only seen in long shot, briefly from the back, and in an off-screen voice over. Feinstein, as president of the board of supervisors, succeeded Moscone as San Francisco's mayor and was elected in her own right in 1979 and again in 1983. After a failed run for governor of California in 1990, she was elected to the Senate in 1993, a position she continues to hold as of 2009.
       The closing title cards detailing the lives of several of those close to Milk also included a brief account of White's defense, which successfully reduced charges of two counts of first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. Shilts recounted in his book that, after turning himself in to a former police partner and private friend the afternoon of the murders, White made an emotional, recorded confession, explaining that he had acted out of feeling overwhelmed by the financial pressures of raising a family and a deep sense of betrayal by Mayor Moscone and Milk during his time on the board. Varying somewhat from what is shown in the film, Shilts's book and Epstein's documentary noted that White originally had no intention of resuming his seat on the board until encouraged by the Police Officers Association and the Board of Realtors, groups which had great interests in upsetting Moscone's liberal policies. Later during White’s trial, the defense played his recorded confession prompting several jurors to cry, according to news reports and Shilts. White's attorneys mounted a successful defense based on "diminished mental capacity," which, as Milks 's end credits note, the press dubbed the "Twinkie defense," as White's consumption of massive amounts of junk food prior to the shootings was suggested to have contributed to his mental instability. Although the defense stated that the killings were impulsive, not premeditated, White did not deny entering city hall through a window to evade a metal detector, as shown in the film, and admitted bringing an extra round of especially powerful hollow-tipped bullets with which he reloaded after shooting Moscone and proceeding to kill Milk.
       White's sentence of voluntary manslaughter prompted a riot, known as the White Night Riots, by several hundred gays in San Francisco. City Hall was attacked, and police cars were burned and destroyed by the protesters, but police were ordered to take no action. No arrests were made, but several police units did go into the Castro district where they attacked numerous gay bars. One eventual result of White's defense was to eventually abolish "diminished capacity" as a legal defense under the California Penal Code, although the mental state of an individual accused of murder may still be considered. As stated in the closing titles, White served almost five years of his seven-year sentence and was paroled in 1984. Out of fear for his safety, authorities originally settled White in the Los Angeles area, and later he spent several months in Ireland before returning to his home in the Bay Area. White's marriage eventually collapsed and in Oct 1985 he was found dead in his garage, a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
       Milk was selected by AFI as one of the ten Movies of the Year for 2008. The film won two Academy Awards, Best Actor for Penn and Best Original Screenplay for Black. It also received the following Academy Award nominations: for Editing, Costume Design, Musical Score, Supporting Actor (for Josh Brolin as Dan White), Directing and Best Picture. Penn also won the SAG award for Male Actor in a Leading Role as well as Best Actor awards from the New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas Critics’ Circles. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   13 Apr 2007   p. 1, 34.
Daily Variety   19 Nov 2007   p. 5, 30.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Sep 2007   p. 1, 29.
Hollywood Reporter   1-3 Feb 2008.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Nov 2008.   
Hollywood Reporter   1 Dec 2008   pp. 22-23.
Los Angeles Times   30 Nov 2008.   
Los Angeles Times   3 Dec 2008.   
New York Times   26 Nov 2008.   

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.