Schiller was born in 1936 in Brooklyn, and grew up outside of San Diego, California. After attending Pepperdine College in Los Angeles, he worked for Life magazine, Paris Match, The Sunday Times, Time, Newsweek, Stern, and The Saturday Evening Post as a photojournalist. He published his first book, LSD, in 1966. Since then he has published eleven books, including W. Eugene Smith's Minamata and Norman Mailer's Marilyn. He collaborated with Albert Goldman on Ladies and Gentleman, Lenny Bruce and with Norman Mailer on The Executioner's Song and Oswald's Tale. His own books that became national bestsellers and made the New York Times Bestseller list include American Tragedy, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Cape May Court House, and Into the Mirror. He has directed seven motion pictures and miniseries for television; The Executioner's Song and Peter the Great won five Emmys. American Tragedy, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town and Into the Mirror were made into television mini-series for CBS. Schiller produced and directed each of the motion pictures listed above.
In 2005, Schiller traveled to China and over two years built a collection of Chinese contemporary Art, which numbers over 80 paintings and photographs. In 2007, he exhibited his 1960s photographs for the first time in New York city Marilyn Monroe and America in the 1960s and since then the exhibition has toured Beijing, China; Sofia, Bulgaria; Hong Kong; Salzburg, Austria; Berlin, Germany; Miami, Florida and London England. In 2008, after the death of the writer Norman Mailer, he was named Senior Advisor to the Norman Mailer Estate and is the Managing Director of the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, in Provincetown, MA, which he created with Norris Mailer. Schiller was a close friend of Mailer and collaborator on five of his works. He also serves as director of the Norman Mailer Licensing company. He also serves as a consultant to political campaigns and major corporations on such issues as crisis management, branding, public imaging and the use of social networking. Schiller is a on air analyst to NBC news, consultant to Annie Liebovitz Studio, Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas and has written for The New Yorker, The Daily Beast and other publications.