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Behind the Lens: Mills Miller of Mills Miller Media

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Behind the Lens: Mills Miller of Mills Miller Media

By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

The name Mills Miller, or the company name, Mills Miller Media, may not reach out and grab the average hip hop fan, but the work will. Mills Miller Media has put together some of the most popular music videos from Jadakiss, Fabolous, Lloyd Banks, and many more. Many of the biggest names in hip hop, and some newcomers, rely on the talent of Mills Miller.

Mills Miller has created Mills Miller Media as an outlet for his creative ventures, which have made him one of hip hop’s most important figures. While his work behind the camera has made him into one of the go-to guys for rappers, Mills Miller is much more than the average music video director. In addition to music videos, Mills Miller is also a film director and has released a successful urban film.

Under the belt of Mills Miller includes Fabolous’ music video, “Body Ya,” Jadakiss’ “Toast to That,” which features Fred the Godson and Remo The Hitman, Riz’ “Never Scared, with Prodigy, and Mills Miller also put together the trailer for the film, Hard Six, which is based on New York Times best selling authors book Ashley and JaQuavis Coleman, “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.” Hip Hop Vibe recently had the opportunity to go behind the lens with Mills Miller and he provided a glimpse into his world.

Read the entire interview below:

How did you get involved with film production? I got into film production when I was in my early 20s. Working on a film set for hours, I knew I could do what I am doing now. During this period of time, I was also pursuing a career in acting, but when I felt it was going nowhere, I decided to really go “Behind the Lens.” I enrolled in film school and after film school, I interned Partizan. They did videos for Janet Jackson, Rihanna and Drake, Jay-Z’s “I Know,” Lenny Kravitz, and more. I interned with them for four to six months and from there I ventured out and began doing my own thing.

Did you find it difficult to land the connections you have in the rap game? It took hard work and dedication to get to where I am at. My first rap connection was Ave, other than him, I knew no one else. Ave was the star of my first video. Back in college, I took the initiative to do official projects while I was in school and that helped me. I would not call it hard, but it took a lot of persistence. At the time, I kept putting my work on YouTube, they had just started, and I was all over MySpace, which was the big thing at the time. I would contact every band, hip hop/R&B artist, when things caught on, it caught on and now I work with big names. It was not hard, but you can’t give up the first time it gets hard, meaning the video does not turn out the way you like it, or you do not get paid for your first few videos, still you are working in your field, which is a good thing.

Who was the first big name artist you shot a music video for? The first big name I shot a music video for were producers Beatnick and K Salaam and the big name artist was Bun B. When I realized I was doing the video for him, it was a big moment for me. I remembered watching the “Big Pimpin'” music video shot by Hype Williams on his track with Jay-Z and Pimp C. Bun B was very cool, he told me behind the scenes, working with me was like working with a young Hype Williams. That felt good because Bun B had actually worked with Hype Williams.

It is safe to say you look up to Hype Williams? Oh yes, definitely safe to say. When it comes to music videos, it comes down to him Benny Boom, Michele Gonzry, who I worked with when I interned at Partizan, and many others.

How would you compare your work to the likes of a Hype Williams? I will say this, I am content and happy with who I am as Mills Miller. But, there is a bit of him in my work, not imitating him, but I admire him, well anyone, actor, athlete, they all take the great aspects from previous greats to add to their own game. When it comes to Hype Williams, this is what I am doing. I am not comparing myself to him, but he definitely has inspired me. I admire what he has done, he is one of the best when it comes to music videos and he is a great filmmaker, I think Belly was underrated. Hype Williams shot over 100 music videos during his time, shooting for B.I.G. and Method Man, among others. Myself, I have worked with Bun B, Fabolous, Akon, Styles P, Lloyd Banks, Jadakiss, and Fred the Godson, along with many more, so far, so good, I have been blessed, but I have much more to learn.

Have you made friendships with many known rappers? Yes, I have, but at the same time, I realized in one of my first gigs with a known artist, who I was a fan of. I am still a fan of their music, but I realized I had to separate the music from the business, if you know what I mean. If you are doing a service for the artist, it is best to keep it business and keep moving. But, I have built some friendships with some, associations with others, I have direct access to many to provide them updates. At the end of the day, when you do work with somebody, you hope to build some sort of friendship, getting to know them and doing better work because of the chemistry shared.

While you did shoot a video for Bun B, most of your videos are for New York artists, do you have plans of shooting more videos for Southern artists? Definitely. I have done treatments for a few Southern artists, but we did not have the chance to shoot. I had the chance to shoot “F.A.M.E.” for Young Jeezy and T.I., I loved the treatment, but they chose someone else. Still, I am a fan of both artists. Bun B actually came to New York City to work, but I have written treatments for Webbie and others. I do see myself working with Southern artists in the near future.

Can you discuss your involvement with the Hard Six film? My work with Hard Six came about with the phenomonal writing, husband and wife duo, JaQuavis Coleman and Ashley Coleman, who reached out to Kaven Brown, who produced the film. He reached out to us and we went out to Detroit, they shot and directed, we produced a scene and put it all together. We produced and handled the technical side of things. They are great authors and they are on tour, they are a part of the Cash Money Content.

How soon can viewers expect to see some Mills Miller films? Stay tuned, we have some things in the works. I have written some short films and I have a feature in the works. I will be doing them myself and I hope the script will be tight, with great acting from bigger names and have it out by 2013. In between doing the music videos, I have been working on films and also doing commercials. Working with top artists and music videos is what I love, but my overall goals include releasing feature films. Hopefully by the spring of 2013, there will be a Mills Miller film. We have a trailer for a documentary, Behind Those Books, Kaven Brown and myself about African-American literature, we screened the film last year at Tribeca, that was our first feature film. But, expect more very soon.

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