Starting out his career directing music videos under the name Little X, Julien Christian Lutz decided that he had outgrown his moniker and upped the ante to Director X. As to whether his creative vision grew with him can be answered by his work last year alone. Rihanna’s music video for “Work” was a product of his vision, as well as fellow Canadian Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” which made headlines because of the rapper’s now-iconic moves. Some have speculated that the video was inspired by the light and space installations of artist James Turrell, but in previous interviews that came out, both parties have denied any collaboration or involvement in the making of the video. “Drake and his team came to me and asked for an idea. Normally, Drake already has a concept in mind, but this time, he wanted me to come up with something,” shares X. “They said they really love those performance videos that I used to make, like the Sean Paul videos I did back in the day, so I had to come up with something that would be in that zone for them.” Considering that he had previously collaborated with Drake on several music videos, the 41-year old director managed to develop a healthy relationship with the rapper. “We’ve known each other for a long time from Toronto. We just work well together. I guess it’s that hometown knowledge,” he adds
“A good music video needs to enhance the song. The song comes first—that’s the most important part of the scenario.”
The Ontario native started out as an intern at MuchMusic, now called Much. “I wasn’t interested in music videos and directing back then, but I was there looking at the camera and lighting and I found it kind of fascinating. That’s when I got interested in becoming a director. It was being at the TV station that made me go down that path,” says X. He was also one of the protégés of award-winning music video director Hype Williams, who’s known for directing music videos for hip-hop and R&B icons like Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Nas, TLC, and Jay Z. According to X, finding the right mentor is key to getting where you want to be at all costs.
“If you want to be a director, do whatever you can to get beside somebody and learn from them. Get into a company, get into a set; you have to get into the business somehow,” reveals X. Throughout his career, he understood that he’s good at what he does because people enjoy the videos he would direct, and that includes the musicians that he has worked with. Other than Drake, he has done music videos with Usher, Sean Paul, Iggy Azalea, and Rihanna, as well as impressive projects for Zayn, Kendrick Lamar, Aaliyah, and just recently, DJ Snake. “I like artists that are really focused on their craft, Iggy Azalea is like that. She’s very creative and attuned to what works for her. Usher, Drake, and P.Diddy are very talented,” adds the director.
According to X, being a music fan is useful in directing a music video. “I mean it’s not essential, you don’t make the music, but it definitely helps if you like the music of the video that you’re making. A good music video needs to enhance the song. The song comes first—that’s the most important part of the scenario.” Other than music videos, X also dabbles with advertising projects and has completed works for McDonalds, Bud Light, Sony Vaio, Bacardi, and last year’s campaign for Alexander Wang. He finds both efforts challenging but distinct. “Commercials are different because the agency comes to you and they have the idea already set, so you’re really executing something they want to do, versus making a music video wherein they come to you and you come up with the whole idea,” explains X. Even though, he’s admittedly in a very toxic environment of making sure that things are happening in his set, he finds the hustle gratifying. “It’s an enjoyable work, it’s an enjoyable job, so there’s really no need to do anything extra,” shares the director. Expecting only growth, developing his own projects, and progressing forward, one can only anticipate more hit music videos and other collaborations from the award-winning director.