Filmmaker Mollie Mills takes inspiration from her hometown of Hackney, London to make documentaries on real people and their everyday lives, whether it’s NYC dancers or boxers in Bethnal Green.
”I’ve always wanted to make films. I left school at 15 and found myself making weird short content with a handheld camera I’d bought from a kid on my block. Lots of hard work and seven years later, filmmaking is my career.
I’m fascinated by people in general, but especially by youth culture. My films tend to be snapshots of a person or a group of people at a particular time or place. I’ve never been interested in creating full narratives. Rather, I prefer portraits or glimpses into other people’s worlds. I work a lot with teenagers because they have unbelievable energy and imagination – and the hustle is astonishing.
The theme of movement happened quite accidentally in my work. Between 14th & Bedford wasn’t my first film working with dancers, but during filming I turned a corner emotionally with dancing and sports. I realised that I found it so incredible because it was so stripped back and pure. One of the younger New York dancers said to me, “If you’ve got no money, no home and nothing but your own body, why not use it to make something of yourself?” He’s right!
What I love most about my career are the people I meet and the places I go. I’ve ended up in some hectic situations, doing things I would have never been able to do if I hadn’t been filming. That’s what makes it so special. I’ve just come back from Johannesburg where I’ve been working on a film called Pantsula, which is a form of dancing that originated in townships there.
There are so many filmmakers who have inspired me, but I find the truest inspiration comes in all sorts of unexpected forms - from images I find online, to people I meet, to scenes I see out on the street. What I love about the internet and online content is that it’s so accessible. I like that anyone, anywhere, can play, upload, cut up, comment or share it. My work is about real, young people and they're the ones I want watching my films – the internet is the best place for that.”