12 Questions With Director Selina Miles
If you’ve ever watched graff videos, and if you’re on this site you undoubtably have, then you are probably familiar with the work of Selina Miles. The innovative director has produced some of the most visually stunning videos in recent memory, and created some amazing projects with the biggest names in graffiti. Our own videographer, Bazooka Films 77, got a chance to interview Salina about her work and influences, giving us a slight look behind the artist.
Who is Selena miles? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a videographer and full time nomad. I’m from Brisbane, Australia but now travel full time and spend most of my time in Europe and America. I shoot graffiti and street art, music videos and commercials.
When did you decide to pick up a camera?
I discovered video quite late, at about 23 years old. Before that I had always loved computers, and had meddled with programming, web design, graphic design. I was studying Multimedia Design at university. I fell in love with editing video first, and later learnt to shoot my own stuff.
Who have been some influences in your life, and what’s one thing or piece of advice that has stayed with you on your journey?
I have been really lucky to have the support of a variety of mentors throughout my career and I think these are absolutely vital, as is mentoring others when you get to a stage where you can. People like Luke Shirlaw (photographer and Ironlak marketing manager) who gave me a job when I really had no clue what I was doing, and dragged me kicking and screaming up to his level of attention to detail. Or Dylan Liddy, manager of the Hilltop Hoods who helped me get a foot in the door of the music industry and gave me the opportunity to shoot some music videos, and produce a stage show. These days I really try to surround myself with positive influences, it seems like all my friends are creative types, and even if you’re not in the exact same discipline, there’s always someone to bounce ideas off. One thing I have noticed is that this new generation can be quite entitled, and thinks the world owes them something. The reality is, the world doesn’t owe you shit. If you want to make good contacts, don’t ask people for things, don’t say “I’m starting out can you help me?” Instead say “Do you mind if I come shoot for you? Can I help you with this? I’d really appreciate the experience.” It’s a slight difference in mentality that makes a big impression.
What are some challenges that you have had to overcome?
Again I feel like I have been extremely lucky, it really has felt like I have managed to put one foot in front of the other and over several years realised that each step was in the right direction. Obviously in the creative industries there’s always those initial years of financial struggle and uncertainty, but I was lucky enough to have supportive parents and friends and being Australian I was lucky enough to get a (technically) free education. It’s been challenging to manage a healthy and happy lifestyle while travelling full time, but I’ve just learnt that you have to treat each day like a normal day, instead of thinking you’re permanently “on holidays” and therefore deserve to party and eat junk food forever.
Has there ever been a time where you just felt like hanging up your camera?
No, I really, really enjoy my job, and the challenge of finding fresh and interesting ways to shoot something, and rolling around on the ground hauling cameras all over the place! So no there’s never been any moments of doubt. I think that it’s vital to find something you like doing.
With work and life and traveling, what are some things that you like to do to enjoy yourself or to help you relax?
Go running, read corny fiction books, sleep, eat and netflix – normal stuff!
What are some things that you like to do in order to get in the zone either while shooting, or before shooting and in editing?
I always listen to music when I’m shooting, and try to listen to songs with a similar feeling to what I’m trying to get across in the edit. To get in the zone when editing I really need to have a tidy environment! When your job is to take all this chaotic footage and organize it into a coherent piece, I think it’s vital to have a clean and organized workspace. Also exercise is really good to help your focus when you’re sitting at a computer all day.
What’s one your favorite works you have done?
At the moment I really like the portrait/mini doc I did for Felipe Pantone. It was an experiment in a new style for me, and it was a huge challenge to put together, I am really happy with the result, and I’m shooting more like this now. I know most people like the hyper lapse stuff I have done, but for me it’s really not a challenge anymore, it’s not really intellectually stimulating to produce at all. I’m way more interested in projects that you can learn from, both as a director and a viewer!
How important is music to you?
Music is extremely important! Music sets the mood and tempo of the video. Putting different music on the same video completely changes the communication.
How important is it for you to have a good relationship with the artist either prior or during the process of working?
I definitely find that I produce the best work for people I really like, but at the same time I am happy to work with anyone. I think as long as you can freely communicate and share with the person you’re working with, it’s fine.
Is there anything that you have coming up as far as projects or being in a show of some type?
At the moment I’m in Dubai working on a commission, then I’m heading to Paris to shoot with a fashion magazine. After that I’m in Norway for a month. As well as shooting video I also manage a few artists which keeps me busy!
What advice can you give the youth coming up that want to do this?
I think the keys are:
– Specialisation – find one thing you like doing and get really good at it. No matter how obscure or weird it is. Case in point, my dear friend Tom Thum. When we met in high school a lot of people would never have guessed he could make a career out of beatboxing. Google him if you haven’t already!
– Connection – more advice from Luke Shirlaw – we have the Industrial Age, then the Information Age – these days information is completely free and instantly accessible online – the new age is the Connection Age – how many people do you know, or know about you, that can connect you in ways that help you? How can you connect all the resources you have to do something awesome?
– Innovation – again, if you stumble across an idea that hasn’t been done before – run at it! These days it’s so hard to come up with new ideas or be the first, and when you do it before take notice. No matter how strange it is.