Thriving off impulse and collaboration, Milo Blake’s films are deeply intertwined with London’s subculture
Having completed work for rising stars Lava La Rue, Kam-Bu and Willow Kayne, the director is producing some of London’s most dynamic and thought-provoking music videos.
- 21 January 2022
- Olivia Hingley
Milo Blake treats his videos like a “puzzle” – a puzzle that can only be completed with the collective insight of technicians, designers and artists alike. Beginning with a “seed of a vision or a concept that feels bold” Milo says he and his crew work together on all of the film-making tools to create work that feels “true” and “innovative”. And whilst the end result is always incredibly clean cut and well-conceptualised, the visuals never detract from the narrative.
This desire to tell stories has always been Milo’s driving force. “When I was a kid I would stage massive set pieces with toys that would take over my house, with a back story and universe behind it,” he says. With his creative interests nurtured by his parents with books, music, art and films, Milo very quickly set himself on a path to becoming a filmmaker: “I wanted to create my own images that conveyed a feeling or narrative, and film always felt like the format which had the biggest and most varied canvas.” Following his childhood dreams with stints at community-led film projects, it was in his late teens that Milo eventually began collaborating with musical artists and creating music videos.
With a list of influences as long as his arm, the director seems to find inspiration wherever he looks. Viewing the UK music industry as “our finest cultural export”, Milo’s musical muses are heavily rooted in the contemporary subcultural sphere, with artists such as Jockstrap, Elevation Meditation and Wesley Joseph, whereas his visual aesthetic looks more toward classic cinematic figures, like Paul Thomas Anderson, Hiro Murai, Claire Dennis and Spike Lee. Milo sees this varied and diverse outlook as being mirrored in his creative contemporaries: “Young people today, as a result of this fusion of varied cultural influences we have absorbed, are creating really dynamic work.”
Usually going off “impulse” and “the baseline feeling I ascertain from a song or situation”, Milo is dedicated to ensuring his music videos emulate their song’s core essence. In late 2021, he worked with PRXZ on their single Child in Red. A move into working with “visuals in a more instrumental electronic space”, Milo leapt at the opportunity to try something different. With the title offering “a paradox interpretation of innocence and darkness side by side” and PRXZ envisioning something like a “dystopian reality”, Milo ended up with a “narrative based around a mythical child connected to nature and how that would stand up against a world being overtaken by technology.” And the music, teamed with the slick, fast-moving imagery and “a slightly more extreme version of the world we currently live in” successfully culminates in a visually arresting and eerily affecting video.
Creating such evocative and clean-cut films also takes a lot of rigorous planning and innovative thinking. Prior to any shoot Milo creates mood boards with each head of department detailing their visions for each part of the process, whether that be lighting, art direction or styling. Milo’s recent music video for Lava La Rue’s single Magpie – a firm favourite here at It’s Nice That – is a great example of this in-depth planning. The masterful video – “a single shot through a tube carriage in which the journey down the train was a trip through the subcultural timeline of London” – proved logistically tricky. Due to the tight space of the tube, smoothly hitting each image was going to be difficult, so Milo created a whole host of colour-coded diagrams intricately detailing every movement, pathway, timing and subject placement. But despite this thorough planning, Milo explains that it’s always important to be “prepared to abandon those plans on the day if it’s clear something could be better or isn’t working”, and he tells us that a skill he’s currently trying to master is the art of “reading the moment”.
This new year looks set to be full of new beginnings for Milo. Ideally wanting to have a handful of scripts written by the end of the year, and even toying with the idea of producing a play, writing is high on the agenda for the director. Fearless in his ability to enter new creative territories and push himself further, we have no doubt that Milo is set to do brilliant things.
Magpie – Lava La Rue Directed by Milo Blake: Spindle Films (Copyright ©, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.