Ad Age is marking Black History Month 2023 with our third-annual Honoring Creative Excellence package. (Read the introduction here.) Today, our guest editor Steve Stoute turns the spotlight to Julien Christian Lutz, pka Director X, the co-founder of production company Fela and the celebrated director of music videos for artists including Rihanna, Jay-Z, David Guetta, Sean Paul, Justin Bieber, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea.
Here, Lutz shares his thoughts on creating a universally relatable narrative.
As a director working most often in music videos and commercials, I get to riff on client concepts and develop video treatments, but no one usually looks to a director to write something original. I got that opportunity working on a fashion film titled “Seven Mothers” for the launch of a new collection from Pyer Moss. I wrote and directed the film based on the life experience of Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder and creative director of the brand, who was raised by seven women after his mother passed away.
The subject matter was something I wanted to address for a long time, and it was important for me to tell a story about the lives of Black families that wasn’t wrapped up in the general crime-ridden inner-city stereotypes, but rooted in the real-life day-to-day of people waking up in the morning and getting ready to go to work and living in the community. As deeply rooted as this film is in Black unity, family and church, it resonates with people of all races and religions because it’s not just about the Black experience—it’s about the experience of people coming together to support each other in times of crisis, which is universally relatable.