Mollie Mills: the self-taught director changing the face of the ad industry

To coincide with Cannes Lions, this week on CR we’re focusing on advertising. Here, we speak to the Hackney-born filmmaker about street casting, culture tourism and how advertising can genuinely have a political impact

It’s safe to say that Mollie Mills didn’t have the most conventional route into advertising. Born in east London, the director and film maker split most her childhood between a council estate in Hackney and the festival circuits that her family worked on during the 90s acid house era. Frustrated by the structured environment of school in comparison, things started to go downhill for Mills in her early teens – around the same time that she started getting into film.

“I’d saved up and bought a crap handycam off this kid on my block for 100 quid, which was so much money at the time,” says Mills. She began experimenting with the short, snappy vignettes that have become so indicative of her style now, documenting her friends, kids on her estate and other subcultural nooks and crannies of London. At 15 she decided to drop out of school, and the rest is history.