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23-04-2005
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Mike Mills - Graphic designer & director
started out as a graphic designer, now directing commercials and adapting the book "thumbsucker" into a movie:

from youworkforthem.com


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23-04-2005
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graphics for x-girl



beastie boys t-shirts/posters


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23-04-2005
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interview from readymade magazine:

Quote:
Don't be fooled by the scruffy lumberjack look. As a member of the Director's Bureau, the Roman and Sofia Coppola braintrust, Mike Mills ollied from skate punk to graphic designer to music video director. Thumbsucker, slated for release next year, is Mills' first feature film. An adaptation of the Walter Kirn novel, it stars Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn, and Tilda Swinton, which means 2004 could be the year Mills' career grows up for good.

ReadyMade: Hi Mike. How did you get your f*&%ing awesome job?

Mike Mills: At first I wanted to be a pro skater, then I thought I was going to be in a band. It took me until my senior year of high school to realize that neither of those things was going to work out, and that I'd been an artist all along. I was a horrible student; I had like a 2.0 grade point average. And in my family you had to go to college. I could draw well—that was the only way I got into art school.


RM: Where did you end up?

MM: Cooper Union. And it was a shock. Being 18 years old and going from Santa Barbara to New York was the best thing. And then I got an internship at M&Co.


RM: The greatest design firm of all time.

MM: I was the lowest rung. I helped Tibor Kalman write speeches. I wasn't much of a speechwriter, but I knew all the postmodern stuff—enough to catch his attention. And that was cool, because I learned how to do graphics on the job. Things I didn't learn in school. They taught me how to use the computer, how to do mechanicals, the whole nature of the business. Tibor was really an amazing salesman. I learned that if you're going to work creatively in the world, you're going to have to sell your ideas to people. And if you can't sell your ideas, you're totally screwed.

But I was young and felt exploited, so I went to grad school at Hunter College to pursue all that postmodern stuff I thought I wanted to do. I didn't finish my thesis. I needed to work for money, and I started doing stuff out of my apartment on the Lower East Side. I didn't have a computer—this is '92 or '93. All I had was a fax, so I used to skateboard to the color Xerox shop on 12th street. I did everything by hand. It was brutal, but it was pretty great. I was freelance, didn't work for anybody. That was the key for me, that I never took a job. I got a little office on Broadway and called it Mike Mills Diversified. When I turned 30, I'd racked up $30,000 in credit card debt just from expenses. And I thought I had ****ed up my life. But when things got better, when they hit, they hit bigger, because I was on my own.


RM: So the tipping point for you was when you were around 30?

MM: My friend worked at the X-Large store, and they were starting X-Girl. I was hanging out, but I actually knew how to do graphic design: I wasn't just a partyer. So I ended up doing all the shirts and designing the store in New York, and that's how I met Kim Gordon and did the Sonic Youth stuff [the cover and video for Washing Machine]. That helped me turn a corner.


RM: Were you pretty excited at this point?

MM: Yeah, it was super crazy. In one summer I did work for Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cibo Mato, Boss Hog. But that was also when I was losing money and going totally broke.


RM: This is a common thing, I hear. You've got all this visibility but are still living in poverty. It's strange.

MM: I'd have two or three days of just spare change in the bowl. I had a lot of friends who, once they got to the change in the bowl stage, they'd freak out and get a job.


RM: But you held out.

MM: Yeah. The key thing to know is that I didn't go to school for anything I ended up getting paid for—graphics and film. I studied film appreciation, film history. To me, actually directing seemed like going to the moon. Watching Jim Jarmusch films made it more accessible.

Since I didn't have any training, I started telling everybody who I'd done record covers for that I'd do a video for free. After a year of hearing that, my friend at Elektra let me do a video for Frank Black after he'd left the Pixies ["Men in Black"]. That was the first film thing I ever did. And then I talked the Blues Explosion into letting me do a video. It was all about doing it as cheaply as possible, making it really difficult for people to say no.

Spike Jonze put in a word for me at Satellite Films. Everybody knew me graphicswise; I was in some magazines. I was leveraging that to get to the film stuff. I was at Satellite for a year, but I was struggling and spinning my wheels, not really getting anywhere. That's when I shot Deformer, a film about Ed Templeton [the artist and pro skater]. Seven grand that I just somehow drummed up. High risk. It's really important to keep doing your own stuff no matter what the world around you is doing. I was always trying something, making something. You have to bet everything.


RM: Was that when the Director's Bureau started up?

MM: Director's Bureau is really sort of an arranged marriage between me and Roman Coppola. I didn't really know him, I knew Spike and Sofia. But I thought, "Oh, this must work, because I like everyone around him." Luckily, we had really similar ideas, and we wanted our company to be not so commercial and as low-key as possible. I was really nervous going back to the bottom again, starting over with film.


RM: During this time did you see your awesome job coming to you, or did you still have sleepless nights?

MM: Oh, all the time. I'm not very stressed nowadays, but back then I was freaking out all the time: I'm never gonna make it, never gonna do what I want to do. But after the Director's Bureau started—I'm like 33 at this point—everything took off. I started doing ads for Nike, which were really hard to get. I did this big ad for Adidas. All of a sudden I had money and could buy a house. I moved to L.A. and everything was hunky dory.


RM: And then you started to want to do more art film stuff?

MM: I was pretty happy, trying to grow, but satisfied doing videos and commercials. I learned that I could take some money from my commercial jobs, dump it into a little pool, and save the rest to do a film. That's when I did The Architecture of Reassurance. It's about a girl who lives in a weird house but wishes she lived in the suburbs, because everyone seems happy there. I was lucky enough to get into Sundance and a few other festivals, and then I got an agent. That helped me get attention in the feature world. I really wanted to do a film, so I started adapting Thumbsucker. I had never written a script before.


RM: What drew you to the book?

MM: It's really funny and very real. It's about a kid in high school who sucks his thumb. I never did that, but I had a lot of other problems that the kid has—an outsider trying to find his way. Before shooting it I went through a year of hell. I couldn't get it funded. I never had so much rejection in my whole life. I'm not an established director, and getting $3 million to do a feature film is really hard. The independent-feature world has kind of dropped out. No one's making money at it, so no one wants to do it anymore. It's harder and harder to make this type of film.


RM: So when does it hit a theater near us?

MM: We'll try to get it into Cannes in May of 2004. Then it might actually come out next fall.

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23-04-2005
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you can view his videos and commercials at the directors bureau site:

http://www.thedirectorsbureau.com/

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24-04-2005
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i really like his work, thanks for the thread kimair!

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24-04-2005
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i had no idea about the movie i really love mike mills....great interview too

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16-11-2005
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Info on Mike
does anyone know where I can find more info on Mr. Mills...I really like his work

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16-11-2005
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I'm a big fan of his illustrations, I loved thumbsucker to.

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07-02-2006
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air (french band) wrote a song about him!

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12-02-2006
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to tell u the truth
i dont really like him he annoys me....

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