Creative Director Olly Caiden on how he hopes to shape the next generation of creativity at The Mill

Community March 9, 2023

Olly Caiden is an award-winning Creative Director at The Mill’s Los Angeles studio with over a decade of experience working alongside globally renowned directors and agencies.

His work spans an array of clients, including Apple, Dell, Amazon, FX, Samsung, Netflix, and Audi, while his creative collaborators include Wayne McClammy, CALMATIC, Dante Ariola, Ivan Zacharias, Doug Liman, and Rupert Sanders.

After honing his craft at MPC London, where he began his career as a runner, Olly moved to MPC Los Angeles in 2015 and later became Co-Head of Nuke.

He is known for nurturing talent and leading his teams to create first-class visuals in a collaborative environment.

What type of projects get you excited and spark your interest?

Crafting imagery that stands out from the crowd is what excites me the most. When I read a script, I paint a mental picture of compositions and lighting styles, then delve into references to create a mood board. It’s fun collating a broad range of sources to drive the creative process forward while figuring out the best methodology to achieve the final look.

At The Mill, we get to work with many talented filmmakers and see such a range of projects. From comedy-driven scripts where we heighten reality to character-based stories where we sell the world they live in or even create the characters themselves. The possibilities are endless, and I love being a creative partner throughout the process.

You’ve collaborated with a wide range of directors and top-tier brands throughout your career. What projects are you most proud to have worked on and why?

I’ve had the opportunity to work on so many great projects. One that stands out to me is the cinematic trailer we did for ‘The Last Of Us Pt 2’, directed in-house by Morten Vinther. It was great fun to take such well-known characters and bring them to life in a way that hadn’t been seen before. We dove deep into making it as believable as possible, from creating new defocus tools from the ground up to replicate 1960s anamorphic Panavision lenses to bespoke performance capture to obtain as much character facial detail as possible. We crafted the entire piece from start to finish, and I’m very proud of how it came out. As a fan of the game, getting to work with Naughty Dog was a dream.

How do you want to help shape the next generation of creativity at The Mill? 

What I love about this industry is that it’s possible to learn from anyone you work with. No matter what stage you are at in your career, it’s essential to continue learning and evolving. Mentors have played a considerable role in my professional development, and I want to pass on the torch and any useful knowledge I have picked up along the way. Moreover, the amount of new technology, especially recently with the AI/Machine learning advancements, is staggering. While these tools can aid the process, at the end of the day, we are artists crafting images. The longer I have been in this industry, the more I appreciate stepping back from the specific tools and trying to focus on the larger picture of ‘What do we want this to look like? What story are we trying to tell?’ This is what I try to impress on younger artists I work with. Before we jump into the ‘how’ let’s figure out the ‘what’ and ‘why’. Having this clear in your mind makes creative decisions so much easier.

What’s currently inspiring you?

I’m enjoying a lot of photography books from a range of artists. Gregory Crewdson’s ‘Alone Street’ has some beautiful large-format imagery, and his approach to shooting single frames is as intricate and detailed as any full-scale production I’ve been a part of.

I also recently picked up ‘Modern Color’ by Fred Herzog, full to the brim with great understated images of early street photography. His work demonstrates how thoughtful composition and use of colour and light never go out of style.

A recent trip to Amsterdam also led me to the Rijksmuseum. Nothing compares to studying the works of classical painters up close and in person. How they use scale, light, composition, contrast and detail to guide the viewer through their paintings influences and inspires my creative process.

Discover more work from Olly here.

Let’s collaborate! Get in touch with our creative teams via our contact page.