A Dollar & A Dream: Video Director Mills Miller Talks About His Blooming Career
How did you come up with Fabolous’ “Body Ya” concept?
I gotta give credit to Fab, man. [He] actually had a lot of ideas and the producer that I worked with on the project, he came with the idea of people falling down. Fab is funny, he said one of the chicks should fall down and hit her head on a brick or something like that. [Overall] It was his idea, Fab is clever and creative, I just took that and ran with it. He came up with the little other ideas like the newspaper dude or the dude walking up to him and he just falls, shit like that. Sometimes artists have their own visions for their videos and it was a good vision and came out to be like a real dope video. The song was hot at the time, it was a dope single, and it was off a mixtape. For a lot of these artists, the mixtape songs turn into more for them and they don’t even know that once the videos goes out that it turns into more.
Who are some of your role models?
On a music video scale, absolutely Hype Williams. In other scales, I’d say F. Gary Gray, Antoine Fuqwa, Tyler Perry and Spike Lee, among others, on a film scale. But, music videos, Hype Williams. I watched his videos when I was young. Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson’s million dollar video when they were liquid and shit, that’s crazy to me. Then you know, so many people directed Michael Jackson videos but, definitely Micheal Jackson because his videos are just hands down movies. I remember when his videos used to come on Channel 5 and I used to wait at eight o’ clock then go to sleep because I had to. Spike Jonze is dope [too]. He did Pharcyde’s “Drop” where they were walking backwards, that was crazy. Michel Gondry, I actually interned at his company called Partizan Production in New York.
How was that experience?
I actually learned a lot. I worked on the set with him as a camera operator on a Bjork video. He directed videos for Madonna, Kanye West’s “Heard Em Say,” and more. I was able to be blessed, like when I first came out of college. In the ending of ’07 to the beginning of ’08, I was interning there for six months. You know, getting coffee and just running errands, paying my dues. I think it helped me in my aspirations to run my own business.
What goals have you set for yourself within the next five years or so?
Within the next five years, I definitely want to get into feature films. Absolutely commercials. That’s always been the goal and obviously becoming financially in a better position with the music videos. The more you grow in the music video world, the higher the budgets. Although the budgets have decreased, there’s still people passing out budgets out there. Like Lady Gaga videos are $100,000-150,000 budgets, Jay-Z budgets are high, Beyonce’s budgets are high like that. Best believe, the lowest is like $80,000. That’s still paper. You do three of those a month and you’re hustling, taking your percentage, come on man, you’re doing just fine.
What artists would you hope to do videos for in the near future?
Jay-Z, Beyonce is fucking dope, of course Lady Gaga, who doesn’t want to work with her? There’s so many artists like Trey Songz, Lupe Fiasco, Bruno Mars. Definitely, Kanye West hands down. This dude is just amazing like he inspired me and I’m not even a musician, man. He came in the game making beats, nobody believed in him, and I kind of feel the same, [like] an underdog. Even though, I’m doing this and people are loving what I’m doing, I still feel like I’ve got a lot to prove. That’s [how] Kanye inspired me, man, the fact that he didn’t let people who was telling him not to rap, get to him. I actually did a spec music video for him like a year and a half ago called “Street Lights” off the 808s & Heartbreak album. Spec videos are videos you just do off of love so when I did it, he actually put the video up on his site at the time. This was before I did anything for Fabolous, Bun B, Jadakiss, any big artist really and I was just passionate about the music and the shit moved me so much that I was just like “fuck it, imma do it.” The shit got a million views on the site and he even went as far as putting it on his site and saying, “I appreciate when people do these type of videos.” It defintiely put more exposure to my name at that point and at that level.
What do you have to say to those that are on the come-up?
Number one, you really cannot stop, you have to continue to go. Number two, you cannot be discouraged, everyone is gonna have an opinion. I’m just blessed to have very supportive people in my corner. There’s been times where I had so many positions where people from LA stepped up to represent me and I’m still not represented. I’m doing this on my own merit. I wrote for artists like Tank and other rock artists. I wrote for artists that I actually didn’t get to work with but, that didn’t stop me from saying that it’s not going down or I’m not doing my thing. It just made me look at where I’m at and see the opportunity that I had to write for them. You got to keep perfect your craft everyday. If you don’t do this everyday like an athlete, you’re never gonna achieve a goal that you want to attain. Be focused and know exactly where you want to go and remember that persistence is key.