MILLY Behind the Scenes w/ Justice Vaughn Ott, feat. Mark Cheche

I met with upcoming director Justice Vaughn Ott by the LA river for a chat over coffee & record shopping. Carving a name for himself through camera work for Atiba Jefferson on Turnstile music videos, Fender sessions, & First We Feast, he’s now channeling his own brand of directing. Having worked with MILLY on every video since he left the band, he’s currently collaborating with Deaton Chris Anthony, Momma, & more artists.

Via Justin Guthrie.

I have a huge skateboarding background. Back in Phoenix, I started filming skate videos for friends & graduated to music videos for local artists. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but it allowed me to figure out another side of filmaking I wasn’t really aware of. Ended up meeting Ty Evans when I was 17; he brought me under his wing & I stayed at his house when I first came to LA. I worked for Girl Skateboards early in my career.

BTS; Niamh Hannigan.

I approach everything I shoot as a skateboarder. I PA’d for 2.5 years on commercials & learned how everyone played to the rulebook. I utilize & respect professionalism, but sometimes I have to pull out the skater card. All those tracking shots of Brendan in MILLY’s Birds Fly Free video is just me barging the camera on my board. I don’t think you could find any non-skaters in Hollywood that could get shots like that.

I found the Tony Hawk doll on eBay & paid way too much for it. Shoutout Glue.

It took seven days to shoot that one. There was this one 16 hour day where Brendan, his girlfriend & I stayed up until 7 AM filming all the nighttime shots of the doll. Limited resources penned me a one-man crew for shooting; lighting, gear, etc. My film partner Mark finished up the edit with me. He slept on my kitchen floor to save time on post-production & we came down to this river every single day to get breakfast burritos.

More BTS; Niamh Hannigan.

Of all the MILLY videos, Star Thistle Blossom’s my favorite. I handpainted the Jesus ketchup stain t-shirt with ketchup. We bought three blanks; one failed attempt, the perfect Jesus ketchup stain, & one we kept blank & stained in the video.

Since it was shot during quarantine, we had to pull from our closest resources. Everyone at the auction scene is someone’s family friend/family member.

How would you define your directing style?

I don’t want to say that I found my style because I know it’ll evolve over time. That being said, I think my style right now is mostly nostalgic, coming from everything I grew up watching: lots of 90’s Nickelodeon, specifically The Adventures of Pete & Pete. That’s pretty much the formula to everything I like.

Via Tianna Summer.

I’ve never made a video that’s completely on the nose with the song. If the lyrics mention a teapot, I don’t want to show a teapot, you know? I like videos with their own narratives; gives the viewer something to follow along with. It’s easy to be bored with cliché ideas circulating through the edit over & over again.

We met up with animator Mark Cheche, Justice’s frequent collaborator who’s worked with Julian Klincewicz & Deaton Chris Anthony for Brain Dead as well as Aaron Goure for skate & skit videos.

Justice & Mark off-set.

I was in college when I first got into animation. It was just a pastime at first. I started on After Effects & worked my way into Modo, really leaned into 3D. Next was Blender & the more I learned, the more I wanted to work on music videos; eventually, I was able to make one for MILLY.

Justice filmed the greenscreens. I was on my last semester dealing with finals at the time.

I chopped the framerate from the standard 24 frames per second so it could look a little jagged. I like when CGI isn’t polished in a way where it’s trying to look real. Leaving things a little grungy… It’s honest.

Why do you animate?

Since I was a kid, anytime I saw CG/animation I’d think to myself, ‘How did they do that?’ That question was always in the back of my mind. I took the road to learn how to answer it.

& Justice, why do you direct?

I want to get to a point where I can make narrative films. Pretty much anything slides in music videos; what I’m doing now is like my film school. I’m learning how my creativity can expand on others’ creativity. I love it.

Read our MILLY band interview: MILLY on Weezer Cover Bands, their Debut Full-Length, & Deep-Cut Emo, El Cid 9/9.

Read our Momma band interview: Momma on Kissing Fans, Moving Coast-to-Coast, & their New Record; HoB Anaheim 11/6

More behind the scenes & project updates at:


By Hector Zaldivar

Professional magician. @hexzald