Mike Mills

Designer director

Imagine that. Bumping into a famous music video director somewhere where you least expect it. And you just happened to be there with a crew to shoot an interview. It happened to our Pretty Cool People crew. They were in a city in the South of Holland called Eindhoven to shoot a Pretty Cool People Interview with Miranda July and they sort of bumped in to director Mike Mills, who was accompanying Miranda to her show at the art space MU. Mike was just hanging around while Miranda worked on her show. So we took Mike to the local skate park for a chat.

Mike’s eyes twinkle as he gazes on down on the skating kids in the indoor park. Once a semi professional skater himself, Mike Mills is now an accomplished graphic designer and director. Besides making music videos, he directed his first feature fiction Thumbsucker in 2005, followed by a feature documentary in 2007 Does Your Soul Have A Cold? But his creative roots are in the subcultures of punk rock and skateboarding. It’s the attitude of punk rock that he loves, which is all about changing the rules constantly, about switching your style and breaking down people’s expectations. He still tries to do those things in his work today.

Mike is part of a generation of directors that emerged in the ninetees including Spike Jonze, Roman and Sophia Coppola, Michel Gondry and their peers. They are now regarded as influential innovators, who re-invented the music video. Everyone but Roman has gone on to direct successful feature films.

Mike exploded onto the international scene with his original music promos for the French band AIR’s first album. His promos for the songs “Kelly”, “All I Need” and “Sexy Boy” are legendary and it’s hard to separate the music from the visuals now. After the success of the AIR videos, Mike could have been directing for major bands and artists, but instead he chose freedom and independence – only directing and designing for products and people that he can relate to, which is a very fortunate position to be in for any designer.

As a graphic designer, music video and film director, Mike continues to innovate himself, churning out new and inspired stuff all the time, no matter what medium he works in. So enjoy the interview in which Mike reveals his ‘recipe’ for creating an interesting music video.


Pretty Cool Crew: Commissioning Editor for SubmarineChannel: Geert van de Wetering, Interview: Sarah Domogala, Camera/Sound: Daniel Bouquet, Editing: Paul de Heer and Geert van de Wetering.

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