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NORTHSIDE Film by Nathan Miller

I first came to Toronto back in 2015 on vacation. My friend Micah brought me to Jimmy Prime’s birthday party where I got to meet the prime guys in person. It was cool to meet them as I had listened to their music before. 

Fast forward two years, I was scheduling some filming with Ace Hotel for the launch of their new Chicago property. I noticed that a flight from Chicago to Toronto was around £100 – very doable. 

I reconnected with Jermane Prime (Jimmy’s manager) and asked if I come through, would he be interested in taking part in a short documentary about rappers in the city. He agreed and that’s what got the ball rolling. Before I left London, I was still doing a lot of talks and interviews following the release of my most popular documentary ‘LDN.’ I met up with a friend in London and she connected me to the plug Samo! Through Samo she allowed me to branch out and have access to her contacts. CMDWN and Sean Leon came through her connects. Smoke Dawg came through the connection I had made with Yacob (CMDWN’s manager). I met Danny on a night out in the city and we chopped it up and just like that, I had the cast.

This piece was interesting to shoot. I usually do a doc a year but NORTHSIDE is the second piece of the year (a first for me). I got to really compare rappers in London to those in Toronto.  

I explored the city by car, train, plane and boat (I actually rode the ferry five times whilst I filmed NORTHSIDE). I had to live in the city, I was there for 10 days for the first leg of the trip, I then went down to the US to work on some other stuff and I came back and stayed for weeks. Chances are if you are into the club scene you would have caught me whilst I was in town. My partner Kane and I practically lived in Apt 200. It built up a lot of trust between the artists and their management. Toronto is a small city, you will see the same faces again and again. When we first arrived we were the outsiders but as the weeks went on we had friends all over and this is what made the interviews so easy.

Familiarity brings comfort. Once Prime, Smoke and CMDWN began seeing me around it made for an easier convo on cam. By then I knew people to reference and I knew locations if they were to be brought up. Admittedly, I was very focussed on the completing the doc, LDN was filmed over 5 months NORTHSIDE was over 3 or so weeks. I had to utilise all of the time to that specific project so I never got to spend much chill time with the rappers involved, if we were hanging out I’d have my cam with me. 

Things fell into place and I headed back to LDN to work on the edit. I wound up drinking with a friend and he really wanted to take a trip to Toronto, I said it’d be cool if we go soon because I think I could have a screening be arranged. He never wound up coming in the end but that’s how Coburn got into this (I had met him a few times whilst being in the city). He headed up, bringing this screening to life, I was working on the final details within the documentary itself and he was securing things. 

On the day of the screening, we had over 100 people in attendance which was amazing – that was my first official screening and it happened to be overseas! The crowd really enjoyed the piece and following the screening the doc was released and it has gotten 1k views minimum every day since it’s release.

Elijah Nichols
Photographer
Nathan Miller
Words By & Director