The new Trailer Trash Tracys video for “Los Angered” – which premiered earlier this week -is a colour-drenched eye feast. It was directed by up-and-coming set designer Penny Mills, whose quirky set designs are getting attention in the fashion and music worlds. Wonderland quizzed Mills on her inspirations and aspirations galore.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the Trailer Trash Tracys’ “Los Angered” promo.
I really love chemistry, and particularly how you can make very exciting things happen with very few simple house hold items. Milo and I had been watching these 80s kids’ science programs on YouTube and when the opportunity to pitch for the Trailer Trash Tracys video arose, I decided that, if filmed and used in the right way, it could really capture the ethereal nature of the song. We also looked at a lot of early and brightly-coloured music videos that had used green screen.
What was it like working with the band?
The band were great! It was great to work with people who were more interested in creating something visually interesting to look at than just a typical moody performance-based video.
The use of bright colours is a recurring theme in your work – why is this?
I am obsessed with colour. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Mauritius, where I was exposed to a huge mix of ethnicities and brightly-coloured cultures and environments. But who knows?
Tell us about how you got involved with set design…
I did a degree in costume design, but found the discipline very restricting. Once I finished the degree, I started to assist a set designer called Gary Card. I really enjoyed that every job was different, and had its own set of challenges that meant that I was, and am constantly, discovering new materials and ways of working. Gary was really great and put me in touch with a lot of other people, and things just took off from there.
Your designs are always fun and playful – what are your influences and who inspires you?
I am particularly taken by the very tangible, and sadly maligned, special effects [in films] pre-dating CGI. I am hugely inspired by old horror and monster films, and will often reference films such as the Wizard of Gore or the Monster With a Thousand Eyes in my work. I would say that John Carpenter and David Cronenburg are two of my favourite directors. Films like The Thing and eXistenZ are what get me really excited about set design.
So, what’s next for Penny Mills?
I would like to continue making music videos and develop my skills as a set designer. I am currently writing a plot for a science fiction animation that I hope to make in the near future!
Words: Eleanor Mackay