Hometown: Los Angeles
For fans of: Mad Decent, Harmony Korine, A.G. Rojas
It’s not often that your interview subject has a run-in with the cops while you’re trying to interview him. Then again, most interviewees don’t chat from a moving car somewhere in L.A. rush hour traffic.
“Oh shit, I think I’m about to get pulled over,” filmmaker Jason Miller said during a recent chat with Paste about his work in music video, television and film. “I’ll have to call you back.”
Twenty minutes later, sounding no less chipper for having gotten a ticket, Miller relayed the story of how he wound up in L.A. from Athens, Ga. “I was in school at UGA for landscape architecture. But after I started messing around with student film festivals and working for a local production company, I totally lost interest in school,” he says.
Miller had fallen in with a group of kids in their early 20s making short music videos called Soundies and began getting offered freelance video work like making videos for local bands or filming live musical performances. By 2006, he had abandoned school to work in film full-time. That was about the time Diplo came calling.
“I had made friends with people in [defunct Athens art-rock collective] Dark Meat. They had made friends with Diplo at SXSW that year and invited him to come play two shows with them. Somebody from Diplo’s camp asked me to film the shows. He hit me up and was like, ‘Hey man this crazy DJ is MCing, and they want someone to film it.’ I had never heard of Diplo at the time. ‘Paper Planes’ had just come out, and I heard he had produced that, so I thought he must be cool.”
Despite a rocky start (shortly after meeting him, Diplo borrowed Miller’s car to run an errand and stayed gone for hours, revealing later that he’d spent the afternoon climbing onto the roof of a local cult haven called the Nubian Temple), the DJ liked Miller’s work, and the two have collaborated on many music videos for Diplo’s Mad Decent family since. One of Miller’s more recent projects was the video for Kitty Pride and Riff Raff’s “Orion’s Belt.”
“One day he calls me and says, ‘Yo man, I wanna do a video with Kitty Pride tomorrow in Daytona Beach.’ Those are the times in life where you’re like, ‘Man I really shouldn’t fuck with this, but what the hell, why not?’ So that night, I’m on a plane to Orlando with my director of photography.”
The “Orion’s Belt” video, filmed over two days in “a shitty motel and an arcade” is an example of the off-the-cuff style and improvisation that gives Miller’s music videos a sense of almost furtive urgency. Even in a video as choreographed as the one he and his Eikon Productions filmed for of Montreal’s “Coquet Coquette,” a fight scene between barbarians on the beach feels loose and free-flowing.
But Miller’s interest in music videos has begun to wane, so he’s turning his attentions to bigger, more ambitious projects. “I’m actually at Paramount now for the second season of American Horror Story,” he says. Between shooting promos and behind the scenes footage for the show, he’s working on a documentary about L.A. artist Steve Harrington, picking up occasional work in ads and, of course, still making music videos for friends, preferring to work with artists who have time to hash out music video ideas over a cold beer, rather than terse emails. He’s not sure yet just what direction his filmmaking career will ultimately go, but for now, he’s enjoying living and experimenting in L.A.
“The resources in LA are amazing. You’ve got a crazy variety of locations, amazing crew/collaborators, and an infinite supply of vendors—props, wardrobe, camera/lighting, etc.,” he says.
Now if he could only find the time to pick up a Bluetooth he’d be all set.