'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

  • Atwood pleased with 'The Handmaid's Tale' adaptation: 'It's just excellent'

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- A TV adaptation of "The Handmaid's Tale" is getting rave reviews ahead of Sunday's Canadian premiere on Bravo, including from the novel's author, Margaret Atwood. "I'm very impressed with what they've been doing. Source
  • 5 must-see Canadian films at Hot Docs

    Entertainment CTV News
    What makes for a compelling documentary? Often it’s the subject matter, illuminating a person or topic that we know little about, or alternatively, it delves into a popular issue or personality, uncovering stories and issues we hadn’t considered. Source
  • Rapper Kevin Gates gets 30 months in prison on gun charge

    Entertainment CTV News
    CHICAGO -- The Billboard chart-topping rapper Kevin Gates has been sentenced to 30 months in an Illinois prison after pleading guilty to a gun charge. The 31-year-old Gates — whose legal name is Kevin Jerome Gilyard -- of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Source
  • 'Putting my guts on the page': Calgary called graphic novel hub by high-profile creators

    Entertainment CBC News
    Calgary has joined Vancouver and Toronto as a hub of creativity in the graphic novel medium, according to several high-profile content creators and an influential ACAD instructor. "Calgary has a really long history of developing different sorts of artist communities that are mutually reinforcing and mutually supporting," Alex Link said. Source
  • Lyme disease behind Shania Twain's vocal issues?

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Shania Twain fears Lyme disease may have been behind vocal issues that sidelined her career for years. The country star developed dysphonia, a vocal cord disorder often caused by stress, but she recently discovered a bacterial infection may have been behind the drama. Source
  • David Hasselhoff was almost Superman, Indiana Jones

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Super-Hoff! David Hasselhoff still can’t believe his manager ruined his chances of playing Superman by turning the role down on her client’s behalf. The Baywatch star discovered he and Christopher Reeve were being considered for Richard Donner’s 1978 film and he was excited to don the leotard and cape and play the Man of Steel, but his agent had other ideas. Source
  • Macaulay Culkin plays crucified Kurt Cobain in music video

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin has landed his most bizarre role, as late rocker Kurt Cobain in a new music video. The grown-up child star portrays the Nirvana frontman in Father John Misty’s Total Entertainment Forever promo. Source
  • Prince's former Toronto home on the market

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The Toronto, Canada estate Prince shared with his ex-wife Manuela Testolini from 2001 to 2006 has been put on the market for just under $13.2 million. The current owner had previously listed the spacious compound for $9.5 million in 2015, but pulled it from the market last year following the superstar’s death, reports TMZ.com. Source
  • 'I broke the Internet'; Orlando Bloom talks nude paddle boarding pics

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    British actor Orlando Bloom has urged the media to move on from his infamous nude paddle boarding photos, because he is so “over” having to discuss the images. The well-endowed Lord of the Rings star let it all hang out during his August, 2016 vacation to Italy with his then-girlfriend Katy Perry, wearing just a baseball cap and sunglasses for his day at the beach. Source
  • The Temptations bass player Kerry Turman dies at 59

    Entertainment CTV News
    CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Kerry Turman, a longtime bassist for The Temptations, has died after a performance in Missouri. He was 59. The coroner in Cape Girardeau County says Turman was found dead at a local hotel early Sunday, shortly after performing Saturday night in Cape Girardeau. Source