'Hotline Bling"s Director X talks video's success and working with Drake

TORONTO -- Through the seemingly endless stream of parodies and fan adulation for Drake's viral "Hotline Bling" video, perhaps no one has been more surprised by its success than its Toronto director.

See Full Article

"It was incredible," said Director X (real name Julien Christian Lutz) of the reaction to video, which has surpassed 245 million views.

"I was really blown away. I didn't expect it to be so big. It's crazy."

X, as he's often referred to, has been directing videos for some of the world's biggest recording artists for 20 years now. They include Kendrick Lamar, Usher, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Timbaland, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and John Mayer, to name but a few.

He's also getting into big-screen projects and is directing his second feature film, "Center Stage 3: Dance Camp."

He shot "Hotline Bling" through his production company, Creative Soul, in Toronto in September. It was his third time working with Drake after "Worst Behaviour" and "Started from the Bottom."

"He's a great collaborator," said X. "He definitely knows what he wants and even has an understanding of what's going to work. It's a good experience working with him.

"It's good to be working with someone that's more of a partner than just some guy who shows up and then stands in front of the camera and leaves," X continued.

"He's involved, top to bottom, beginning to end. He's not leaving anything for someone else to figure out for him."

"Hotline Bling," which debuted in late October, has become a sensation, largely because of Drake's slow body-roll dancing in it.

But it was X's artistic vision that emphasized the moves.

The video starts with a shot of curvaceous women working in a cubicle-divided call centre. It then cuts to Drake (whose real name is Aubrey Graham) doing a series of shimmy-shuffle grooves on a minimalistic, illuminated set featuring light boxes and stairs.

Overall, the goal was "just doing a big performance piece," said X, noting he was asked to do something along the lines of his "Temperature" video for Sean Paul.

"I have a graphic style, I like sets, I'm very into architecture and design," said X.

"You pull things from, you know, 'Look at that building, the way they built the wall.' You're pulling all these different influences and mixing them with your own ideas and coming out the other side with something."

The Brampton, Ont., native got his start as an intern at MuchMusic in the mid-'90s.

"I was just beginning to look at music videos. I didn't really know there was a career," he said with a laugh.

"Then I found, 'Oh, this is really a thing,' and I was already pursuing it. But it was like, 'Oh, there's a life here.' There were no grand plans. It's just what I wanted to do."

He studied and learned a lot on his own, through books and hands-on experience in New York, where he worked under hip-hop music video pioneer Hype Williams.

"The main lesson I really learned from him is when he told me that (a music video) has to be about something. That was eye-opening," said X.

"And that's what the Drake piece is about: the sets and the colour changes. 'Gimme the Light' (by Sean Paul) is about the sets. You can make something about something, even though it's not in the narrative sense.... It doesn't have to be a story, it can be about shoes, it can be about a colour."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Vintage Disneyland concept map sells at auction for $708,000

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - A hand-drawn map that shows Walt Disney's original ideas for Disneyland has sold at auction for $708,000. The founder of Van Eaton Galleries in Los Angeles says a private collector cast the winning bid Sunday. Source
  • ‘It would be a really amazing way to start the movie’: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ star Tom Holland wants Ant-Man for the sequel

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK – In Spider-Man: Homecoming everyone’s favourite wall-crawler gets to team up with Iron Man for his first solo movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But new Spidey star Tom Holland already has an idea of which Marvel hero he wants to pair up with in the Homecoming sequel, which is set to open July 5, 2019. Source
  • 16-bit is back: Nintendo's Super NES Classic launches this fall

    Entertainment CBC News
    Nintendo has announced the Super NES Classic console, a miniaturized version of its 16-bit console from the 1990s and a followup to last year's wildly popular NES Classic. The box will launch in stores Sept. 29 for $99.99 Cdn ($79 US) and will include 21 games, including Super Mario World, Final Fantasy III and notably, the previously unreleased Star Fox 2, the company said Monday. Source
  • Trailer Park Boys add landmark Halifax eatery, bars to growing business empire

    Entertainment CTV News
    HALIFAX -- The Trailer Park Boys, Nova Scotia's supposedly dopey mockumentary stars, are amassing a business empire spanning an online comedy network, production studio, beverage deals, marijuana branding and now a landmark Halifax restaurant and bar complex. Source
  • It's Rammstein, mud and mild-mannered mayhem at Montebello's summer festival

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    I’m standing, shivering really, in the rain and the mud with several thousand of my new-found closest friends. The couple in front of me is making out with a ferocity that could hurt somebody. The young lady behind me is getting up off the ground, apparently after relieving herself, a big grin on her face. Source
  • J. K. Rowling marks 'wonderful' Harry Potter anniversary

    Entertainment CTV News
    Author J.K. Rowling on Monday marked the "wonderful" two decades since her Harry Potter creation first hit the shelves, starting a global literary phenomenon which has inspired a generation. "20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others. Source
  • Kelly Osbourne claims she peed her pants when Starbucks refused to let her use washroom

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Kelly Osbourne has claimed she wet herself after a Starbucks store refused to let her use the toilet. The TV personality and daughter of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne is one of the many stars celebrating Pride month and attended a LGBTQ parade in New York City on Sunday. Source
  • Salvador Dali's bones to be exhumed in Spain for paternity test

    Entertainment CTV News
    MADRID -- A Spanish judge has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealist art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. Source
  • BET Awards 2017: Remy Ma, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé win top awards at nostalgia-heavy show

    Entertainment CBC News
    Remy Ma has ended rival Nicki Minaj's seven-year winning streak at the 2017 BET Awards, a show highlighted by '90s R&B and groups popular in that decade, as well as five wins for Beyoncé. Ma, who was released from prison in 2014, won best female hip hop artist Sunday in Los Angeles, an award Minaj has won since 2010. Source
  • J.K. Rowling: Creator of magic who dazzled the world

    Entertainment CTV News
    The creator of a wizarding empire which has dazzled the world, J.K. Rowling struggled through hardship to become an unrivalled children's author with a global voice. Rowling once told a beaming crowd of Harvard University graduates how she had initially failed "on an epic scale". Source