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The year’s just started and Mimi Cave has already released a couple terrific videos—a quirky dance number for Tune-Yards (see above) and an absolute stunner for Vance Joy (see below). The California-based director has a fresh vision and is quickly becoming one of our favourites. We felt it was about time we caught up with her to learn more about her approach to filmmaking and find out what’s next! Watch “Heart Attack” above, if you haven’t already, and check out our full interview with Mimi below!
Jeff Hamada: There’s something about your videos that feels like they are directed by a dancer. What’s your relationship to dance?
Mimi Cave: I’m a dancer! I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old. I still dance as much as I can in my free time, but working with dancers allows me to remain in the realm of movement, which is super important to me.
Jeff Hamada: Loved the energy in the video you shot for Sylvan Esso’s “Kick Jump Twist” — how much of that choreography was locked before you went to shoot it? Was there a lot of improvisation on location?
Mimi Cave: Most of it was locked. Gary our dancer is a member of Ate9, Danielle Agami’s dance company. We had a short amount of prep time so I worked with Danielle to set some of her existing repertory to the song and video. We edited the choreography a little to fit the track and planned our camera movement based on the choreography. There’s a chunk of movement in the beginning of the video that Gary improvised and changed with every take.
Jeff Hamada: You’ve shot multiple videos for several artists, that’s always a good sign—repeat customers! Is building real relationships an important part of your creative process?
Mimi Cave: I love working with an artist more than once, or perhaps for an entire album. It gives us a real chance to shape the visuals and tell a larger story, even if the actual video narratives aren’t overtly attached. It’s also nice to get to know a collaborator and experiment with different approaches. There’s a sense of freedom that comes from trusting one another. And when that freedom is present, there’s really nothing better.
Jeff Hamada: Your latest video for Vance Joy is so beautiful, I think it’s my favourite of all your videos so far. What were some of the challenges getting all that on screen?
Mimi Cave: So we actually shot two videos for Vance Joy in two days. The other hasn’t released yet! Honestly, it was a fantastic experience all around. I have dealt with a lot of roadblocks while making several of my videos, but James (Vance Joy) is incredibly trusting and allows me all sorts of space to try things. We have a really natural way of communicating and sharing ideas that removes any stress from the process. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but our shoot for “We’re Going Home” was a complete joy. I also attribute a lot of that positivity to my crew and my production team. I have insanely talented people surrounding me. Hard to go wrong.
Jeff Hamada: What are people getting when Mimi Cave directs their video?
Mimi Cave: You’ll have to come to set and find out :)
Jeff Hamada: I may take you up on that! How has your approach to filmmaking changed over the years?
Mimi Cave: It’s changing every day! I feel constantly overwhelmed with things I want to try and create. Filmmaking is a medium that educates you over and over again. It’s humbling and challenging and there’s no room for ego. There’s also no end to the insights. If anything, I’ve become less afraid of “failing”. It’s still there, but I realize I’m so lucky to get to do what I do, and by failing I’m only getting closer to the core of what I’m trying to say.
Jeff Hamada: Why do you make things?
Mimi Cave: Because when I stop making, I stop feeling alive. The more I make things the more I want to make things. That’s the insatiable frenzy that art can have. This doesn’t always mean I know what I’m making or that I always have ideas. I go months with blocks or blank slates. But I’m always trying to dig deeper and uncover more… asking what else is there? Also, it’s just fun.
Jeff Hamada: What are you most proud of at this point in your life? This can be about your work but doesn’t have to be.
Mimi Cave: In my work I don’t yet feel like I’ve accomplished my larger goals, so I can’t say I’m proud just yet. I am proud that I’ve remained in the field though. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I don’t belong, don’t deserve or can’t handle being a Director. I’m proud I didn’t listen.
Jeff Hamada: Who are some of the creative people inspiring you these days?
Mimi Cave: There are too many to name. Especially with social media, I feel like I’m discovering new people of all mediums that I’m completely blown away by. I think that the people I work closely and spend time with day-to-day inspire me the most because I see firsthand the challenges that are overcome. Friends, family… DP’s, writers, dancers, musicians, painters, editors and so on.
Jeff Hamada: Last question is actually two questions, and it’s always the same—what’s something you want to accomplish this year? And what’s something you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
Mimi Cave: This year I’d like to finish editing the feature doc I shot last year. I’m excited to put it into the world. In my lifetime, I just want to keep moving forward and expanding, creating longer form projects including television and feature films… and have a family while doing it 😉