Girl Wonder: Mollie Mills
GIRL WONDER introduces you to global #GIRLBOSSES who are doing it young, and doing it well.
First up, London-based filmmaker MOLLIE MILLS
London will forever be my home, but I'm always in different cities.
Director, film maker.
How did you get your start?
I hated school. All I wanted to do was make films, explore, and hang out with other kids who hated school. I gave myself an ultimatum in my mid-teens: "Go get it, or do this [school] for the next 10 years." You can guess which one I went for. I guess I pushed myself in the right direction over the first couple of years, but a lot of people (who I'm eternally grateful to) have given me leg ups and helped me make it a career: employers, friends, kids I've made films about. Obviously, that goes hand in hand with working my ass off.
Who inspired you in the beginning? Who inspires you now?
The people already in my films, the people who I haven't yet made films about. Nothing inspires me more than meeting someone and getting that rush of excitement about them, wanting to celebrate what they're about. It's always been that and I hope it never goes away.
When did your passion become your day job?
The lines are blurry and I still don't know what's what. Financially, filming supports me but, more importantly, it also supports me mentally, physically and emotionally; it keeps me sane. I'm truly in my element when I'm running off with a bunch of kids I just met, with a camera in hand - it's my passion and my day job. I feel super-lucky to have found that balance.
What are you working on at the moment?
Lots. Some great commissions, which I'm super-excited about, and also some personal projects. I just spent last weekend breaking onto train tracks in an industrial suburb of Barcelona with a gang of 15 year olds called 'Ham Squad'. That should be an interesting one.
What’s the best thing you’ve worked on so far?
I honestly have no idea. Every project is rewarding in totally different ways. I learn so much from the people I work with, after every shoot I'm like, "F*ck, that was the best."
Do you ever wish you’d gone to university/art school? If so, what would you have studied?
I haven't felt any regret yet; I'm happy with where I'm at. I struggle staying in any one place for a long time so a four year commitment to university would have been testing. However, if I had to, I wouldn't study film. I'd study something totally weird and unrelated. I love the idea of being an expert at something niche and 'irrelevant'
Do you have a mentor? If so, please tell us what you've learnt from him/her.
My family and friends are always the best mentors - me and my closest friends have a group text, which is more or less just an emergency hotline for whatever situations we might of gotten ourselves into, romantically or professionally. They mentor me through pretty much anything.
What’s the biggest personal lesson you’ve learnt so far?
That you don't always have to pick up a camera and film, sometimes it's better to just enjoy the moment.
What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge I've faced has been feeling unsafe or vulnerable. I've filmed in some very unwelcoming situations - Crip gang hideouts, 4am underground yardie dances etc - but people tend to warm up and drop the facade pretty quickly. I'm always there to celebrate people, not to be a culture tourist and not to point fingers. Once they realize that, there's a unifying human moment where we find some common understanding, no matter how many worlds apart we may be. That's when people let me 'in'. I live for that feeling.
What advice would you give to girls who want your job?
That there's always, always a way. Some of the best things I've made have been with no money, no team, no support. It's about being resourceful, smart, and ballsy.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
The same thing, just without a camera.
What’s the dream?
Without sounding really cheesy: helping other kids realize theirs. (Also, directing a Paid In Full sequel.)