Written by: Hana Raage
Collages: Annie Mcgill
Nathan Miller, is a filmmaker and visual director hailing from East London. Breaking away from his personal film output of a doc a year, Miller gave us two projects this year. It was only upon returning from filming Cipha Sounds, did he begin to realise a film documenting London could be possible.‘I was watching Dave perform at a New Gen event, and I thought it would be sick if I did a piece on the City’. From there it began with reaching out to the people he knew immediately. Beyond the scope of having influential and skilled individuals such as J Hus, 67, Morgan Keyz, Vicky Grout and Kojey Radical contributing, it was the spotlight and attention bought to an often, overlooked culture. It only seemed logical for Miller to next pursue a project exploring some of the challenges faced by the young artists of Toronto, not too dissimilar to the challenges faced by the maturing sound of London music. Miller’s first series of commissioned projects, took him to Chicago. From there, the decision to go to Toronto soon followed and NORTHSIDE materialised.
When I first arrived in the city [Toronto], my cousin took me out to eat, and I was just looking around and thinking it would be amazing to shoot. I’ve been watching ‘Atlanta’ for visual references, it’s just shot really well and I really wanted to replicate that kind of style. I was always looking around, the first day I shot was actually just trying to capture the city how I saw it.
The first time I pressed record, It was a group called ‘CMDWN’. Two artist called Fiji and Ca$tro [Guapo] and they have an apartment in the middle of Toronto and from their balcony you could see the CN tower, it was a really nice setting. When I press record, it comes as second nature now really.
Fun Fact: LDN wasn’t supposed to be a doc on London. I actually wanted to do a piece where I got one artist from London, one from Toronto and one from New York and combine the documentation of the three people. When I was filming in Chicago it was only a hundred something pounds to fly to Toronto, and I’d already known of Jimmy Prime and a bunch of the Prime guys and I reached out to the manager and asked if they’d be down for the project and the minute they said yes was how a documentary about Toronto started.
With any of this film process, the best parts have been the candid moments, where people aren’t expected to say anything. It’s very different to LDN, with J Hus for example. The style [In NORTHSIDE] is more different, it initially wasn’t going to have any narration over it. With a lot of people not necessarily knowing who they are [in London] it was later added. It followed a similar style [to LDN] but I was shooting with a tripod, so I got away with a lot of unnoticed filming.
Smokes [Smoke Dawg] is really the star in this documentary, kind of like how Youngs Teflon was the star in the last one. It wasn’t really planned, I didn’t think Smokes was even going to be in the documentary, the contrasting topic of conversation I had with him… He started off by telling me about friends that had passed away and about touring with Drake, I wound up with a lot of different emotions that ranged across the spectrum. It really created depth, even having Murda Beatz in it really added another element to it.
I’d recommend just getting a camera and getting your skills up and going out there and doing it, as cliché as that sounds. It’s really all you have to do. Just hit someone up, ask if you can work with them and make it happen.
Everything I have done, I had to be active about and go and get, even now I pay for my stuff, there is a balance between finding an investment and getting sponsored. I think it’s also important to be willing to use your own money and invest into your own project, it just prepares you for when money does come into the situation.
You have every resource at your disposable, make it work, there is always a way. flights to NY are affordable, and to LA and Toronto. People buy trainers that are £400, I could get a flight ticket to Atlanta and fund my whole documentary. Pace yourself, create goals, divide the year into fours and really understand where you want to be and have an idea of what you’re trying to do.