Executive Director Stephen Venning talks The Evolution of Mill Direction

News April 29, 2020

For a number of years, The Mill has developed its capabilities above and beyond that of post-production to include the strategic development and execution of projects across linear film, immersive, and interactive content creation.

Mill Direction (formerly a collection of artists known as Mill+) focuses on the production of work from concept to delivery for any screen, leaning on The Mill’s visual effects legacy to create both live-action and digitally crafted work.

Our Mill Direction team rosters or represents over 40 directors worldwide across our London, Berlin, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles locations. This homegrown roster of talent covers an extensive and eclectic list of specialties, from design, animation, and visual effects oriented work, to projects that lean into live-action, talent direction, and emerging technologies.

Above: Apex Legends | Battle Charge Launch Trailer, Directed by The Mill’s Lisha Tan & David Lawson


Eight years ago, in response to the industry’s ever-evolving landscape and client needs, we launched an offering called Mill+, which enabled us to develop our end-to-end production capabilities and offered us the opportunity to work with both agencies and brands directly. What started as a small arm of the company leaning heavily on our animation and design-led capabilities, soon evolved into a robust live-action direction offering too, allowing us to step into exploring long-form content in addition to advertising and commercial work.

The growing scale of Mill+ work over the last eight years means a substantial amount of the Mill’s day to day work is now directed and developed in-house. What was once an experimental route into new ways of working is now very much part of The Mill’s overall creative offering and culture as a whole. It’s for this reason we decided to drop the ‘+’ and bring The Mill’s end-to-end capabilities under one umbrella brand.

Above: Audi ‘Birth’, Directed by The Mill’s Andrew Proctor


The overriding ambition of The Mill has always been to constantly evolve, both from a creative and business standpoint, recognizing opportunities within the market and adapting to meet those. With such a deep history in pure VFX production, Mill Direction is our vehicle to market our world-class directorial roster, and let the world know that we can offer advanced creative solutions on top of award-winning CGI, Compositing, Design, Colour, and Experiential work.

What has been a hugely inspiring part of evolving the business, is that many of our Mill Directors have been nurtured from within. They may have started at The Mill as CGI artists or Designers, Art Directors and so on but have now grown into other areas of creative development and are able to expand their visual narrative. Getting to the essence of a brief and telling their own stories with their personal ideas, style and empathy. That’s what has been so incredible to see, as Mill folk go from being artists to Directors in their own right.

Above: EA SPORTS, VOLTA FIFA 2020, Directed by The Mill’s Carl Addy


The development of Mill Direction and Mill Experience, supported by our internal Brand Partnerships team means The Mill has evolved from that of a traditional post-house or VFX company to a multi-media creative studio and production partner. Our desire is to continue evolving and honing our strategic abilities to build on what we started with Mill+ nearly a decade ago.

Our goal is to continue developing our offering, in partnership with the industry’s best production companies and external directors to make great work across commercials, medium and long-form formats. We’re proud to work with the industry’s top talent and wouldn’t be where we are now without their support. Our broad capabilities mean our creative partners can engage with us at any point in the production or post-production process and it is our ambition to continue servicing production companies, agencies and brands with the same intent we’ve always had: to create extraordinary work.

As The Mill reaches 30 years in the commercial and filmmaking business, we’re excited to reflect on our evolution over the past three decades and look to the future of who we can be as a creative studio.


Find out more about our directors in the Creators section of our website.

Executive Director, Stephen Venning