'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

  • Netflix and chill, rather than go out to silver screen

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    “Hello, plants,” my wiseacre college-age son says, by way of hello to my wife and me when he sees us in front of the television, binge-watching something or other. I call that big talk from someone who’s invariably headed up to his room to play video games online with friends for hours. Source
  • Xavier Dolan wins best director at César Awards

    Entertainment CBC News
    Quebec film director Xavier Dolan has won the best director award at the César Awards, France's equivalent of the Oscars. Dolan took home the honours for It's Only the End of the World, while the film was also successful in the best actor and film editing categories on Friday. Source
  • Man sent to prison for cutting off woman's finger to honour Insane Clown Posse fan

    Entertainment CTV News
    Joseph Bruce aka Violent J, left, and Joseph Utsler aka Shaggy 2 Dope, members of the Insane Clown Posse address the media in Detroit, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Source
  • Oscar hosts through the years: The ‘feel good’, the ‘edgy’ and the oddballs

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Oscar hosts through the years: The ‘feel good’, the ‘edgy’ and the oddballs If you scrutinize the nature of the job of Oscar host over the years, they invariably fall into one of three categories. There are “feel good” hosts, whose job is to make Academy members feel better about themselves. Source
  • How to make your Oscar picks: Insider tips from CBC film critic Eli Glasner

    Entertainment CBC News
    Missed Moonlight? Lagging behind on La La Land? Haven't seen Hidden Figures yet? You can still win that Academy Awards pool! Check out the video above for a few insider tips from CBC film critic Eli Glasner to help you pick the winners. Source
  • How to win your Oscars pool: Insider tips from CBC's film critic

    Entertainment CBC News
    Missed Moonlight? Lagging behind on La La Land? Haven't seen Hidden Figures yet? You can still win that Academy Awards pool! Check out the video above for a few insider tips from CBC film critic Eli Glasner to help you pick the winners. Source
  • Quebec director Xavier Dolan wins French Oscar

    Entertainment CTV News
    PARIS -- Quebec film director Xavier Dolan has won the best director award at France's equivalent of the Oscars. Dolan took home the honours for "It's Only the End of the World," while the film was also successful in the best actor and film editing categories on Friday. Source
  • Obamas return to Broadway to see Arthur Miller's 'The Price'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The Obamas just can't quit Broadway. Former President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia Obama have caught a new revival of Arthur Miller's "The Price." They attended the play starring Danny DeVito, John Turturro, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht at the American Airlines Theatre on Friday. Source
  • Oscar-nominated Syrian cinematographer barred from entering U.S.

    Entertainment CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. immigration authorities have decided to bar entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer whose harrowing film about his nation's civil war, "The White Helmets," has been nominated for an Academy Award. According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security has decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khatib from travelling to Los Angeles for the Oscars. Source
  • Kesha to star in cartoon series

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Kesha is stepping into the animated world to voice a character in new U.S. series Highly Gifted. The Tik Tok hitmaker will join Drake Bell and Ron Funches among the voice actors in the semi-autobiographical comedy series, based on the experiences of cartoon creators Daniel and Jeremy Lehrer, known as the Lehrer Boys, participating in programs for highly-gifted students. Source