A Dollar & A Dream: Video Director Mills Miller Talks About His Blooming Career
Hailing from New York City — Uptown and The Bronx, specifically — Miller has managed to build his interactive media service from the ground up. Equipped with a vision and a dream, not to mention the company’s savvy business motto: “best quality for the best price,” Mills Miller Media has produced a number of music videos like Fabolous’ “Body Ya,” Fred Da Godson’s “I Am,” and a couple of Bun B’s clips, among a slew of others. Most recently, he was fortunate enough to direct Jadakiss’ “Toast To That” video.
Taking a break from his busy schedule, Miller spoke to XXLMag.com about how he got his start, his aspirations and his experiences crafting visuals for some of hip-hop’s brightest stars. Lights, Camera, Action.—Ralph Bristout
XXL: Tell me a little about Mills Miller Media, how did it come about?
Mills Miller: It’s actually my name but, when I originated the company I wanted [the] name to reasonate and kind of be something easy for people to catch on to. Once I started with the Mills Miller, it started to roll out of people’s tongues easy. When I started the business and was filing the paperwork, the person who I was filing the paperwork with said that name was catchy and this was before I did any video so, that’s how the name Mills originated.
How long have you been filming?
I graduated college in 2008, so two years and a half.
That’s a pretty short time based on your catalog and all.
I guess I’m blessed and I just haven’t really realized how hard I’ve been going, man. I try to shoot everything that I could shoot and everything I try to shoot I always try to make sure that it is at the highest quality.
Sort of like the group’s motto, “Best Quality for the Best Price.”
Right, absolutely. There’s a lot of videos out there, and I’m not saying nothing bad about anybody because I get inspired by looking at other people’s stuff but, I always wanted to be on that level where I didn’t want to be [compared to] just like any other internet video. When I shoot videos for artists, I always make it something more than what it is because [it's] an opportunity.
How did you hook up with Fred Da Godson?
Me and Fred, its really a funny story. I knew [him] personally when I got out of college, he was doing his music thing. He wasn’t buzzing the way he is now and even myself, we were still grinding. I had did a couple videos that were hot but, at the time I was telling Fred, “I need to work with you.” Things happen for a reason and we just never got to work together until about a year ago. We did “I Am” and that sparked interest from the manager he’s being currently managed by now, Shawn Prez, who [also] manages Diddy. For that video, Shawn told me “That was the video that made me take notice of Fred.” So, when he said that it made me really believe that I must be doing something right. Me and Fred are friends and been friends since before we started working which is a blessing and we just been working.
So the “I Am” video was when you first truly realized filming was something for you?
To take you all the way back, I actually was an intern. I worked on a short film, working free all day from the sun-up to the sundown. [Since] I was doing it all for free and wasn’t complaining, I realized that I could do this for the rest of my life. But, as far as directing videos and producing, it definitely came around when I directed a video for an artist named, Nova [for a song] called “I Hate My Job.” I had just graduated and was still doing videos but was yearning for reaching the next level and network situation. [Trying to figure] how as a director, can I expand. But, it turned out to get him all this exposure including a MySpace featured video, 100,000 hits, and comments. The thing that really made me say that I could do it was because the artist wasn’t really known like that. It would be different if I had did something for someone that was known. I did something that was good and people liked, and that was definitely when I said I should continue with it.
What’s one of the things that you try to emphasize in your videos?
I love females and I’m not gonna lie and say that there’s no females in my videos but, I try to use them in a way that [they'll be presented] beautifully or a way that can be not just shaking your ass or mysogynistic, you know what I’m saying? Trust me, I love women, man, and I’ve done my share of strip videos but, sometimes it just calls for that. I’m supposed to do a video for Shawty Lo featuring Twista, it’s called “Pocahontas” and it’s a strip club video but, for the concept I took “The Player’s Club.” Your gonna see ass and strippers and shit but, there’s a concept behind it. That’s the way I try to think about things and go forward with it.
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