New Jersey native Nilla – known as Nilladriz by many – is an 18-year-old filmmaker that you should get familiar with.
He’s been taking photography and cinematography seriously for only four months, combining his creativeness with his entrepreneurial inclination to make his way around the hip-hop scene and work with many artists such as Famous Dex, Smokepurpp, Reggie Mills, Squidnice, Jack Bruno, Blackway, and Trae Da Kidd.
Not only does he conduct photoshoots and film videos, but he also creates content commercially for local businesses in the New Jersey area. He aspires to start his own media agency and direct award-winning music videos as well as big screen movies.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Nilla and discuss his work below.
“People come from so many walks of life. There are so many different cultures and influences in Jersey that can be used to create dope work.”
Before we dive in, how are you?
I’m feeling great. I’m glad to be interviewed by Cut x Sewn Magazine.
I’d like to know the story behind the name “Nilladriz”. Does the name have any special meaning?
I got the name “Nilladriz” back in middle school from my teammates one day in practice. I used to play basketball in Paterson, New Jersey, in an urban community. One day when we were scrimmaging, after I scored, one of my teammates wouldn’t stop screaming “VANILLA DRIZZLE”. Through time it was simplified to Nilladriz. Soon everyone started calling me Nilla.
You’re from New Jersey. Many people are inspired by their surroundings. Would you say New Jersey influences you and your work?
New Jersey definitely influences my work. People come from so many walks of life. There are so many different cultures and influences in Jersey that can be used to create dope work.
How would you view New Jersey from a creative perspective?
So many creatives come out of Jersey, so many that you wouldn’t even know are from here. It’s a great place to be if you’re trying to engage with different cultures and create original work.
You mentioned that you spent 4 months of taking photography and cinematography seriously. Was this approach self-taught or were you mentored along the way?
My approach was definitely self-taught. I had no idea about photography when I decided to give it a shot. I worked a whole summer at Little Caesars to save up for a decent level camera, and when I finally purchased it, I just practiced and practiced. I watched informative videos, read books on photography, took pictures for my friends. Any opportunity I could get to take pictures and practice different styles, I took.
The artists that you’ve had the opportunity to work with – Famous Dex, Smokepurpp, and Trae Da Kidd – just to name a few – how did that fall into place?
I made sure I could give someone anything they asked me for on the spot. Any style, idea or concept. This eventually helped me break through and work with big names. One afternoon Reggie Mills (rapper) put on his Instagram he needed a photographer for a studio session in NYC. He was impressed with my work and from there I was able to meet Famous Dex and Smokepurpp. That day helped strengthen my resume and made it possible to connect with other big names like Trae Da Kidd, Squidnice, etc.
Any future artists you’d like to work with?
I’ve always wanted to work with Ski Mask The Slump God. He’s high energy, he makes great music and from what I’ve heard he’s a genuine guy.
As far as music videos, who do you think has interesting visuals?
I really admire Louie Lesseos’s (LOUIEKNOWS) work. I’ve had the privilege of being on his set and shooting a behind the scenes video for him. His music videos are very entertaining and he utilizes a diverse amount of effects in all of his videos.
What do you believe is the most challenging part of getting a project done?
The most challenging part of getting a project done is, as a director, making sure the artist’s vision and your vision for the music video coherently come to life.
You mentioned aspiring to direct award-winning films in the future. What are some of your favorite award-winning films and why?
One of my favorite movies, cinematically speaking, would be “La La Land”. I believe that movie wouldn’t have been as good if it wasn’t directed by who it was directed by. Damien Chazelle did a great job bringing the story and concept to life.
What pointers would you give individuals interested in starting filmmaking?
One piece of advice I would give to anyone who wants to start filmmaking would be to take every opportunity that comes your way, even if you don’t get anything upfront at first.
For more Nilla:
Follow him on Instagram
Subscribe to his Youtube