The new remake of Superfly, the iconic ‘70s blaxploitation crime film, has an unexpected person behind the lens: Director X. Despite being a director for two decades, his name might not be recognizable to film buffs. So just who is Superfly's Director X? Well, you might not know his name, but there’s a big chance you’ve seen his work. Even though Director X, whose real name is Julien Christian Lutz, has only worked on four films, he’s been responsible for making some super popular music videos.
Taking a look through his repertoire will surely take you back to the early TRL days. Director X helmed plenty of videos for iconic songs from the early 2000s, including Rihanna’s “Pon de Replay,” Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” Nelly’s “Hot In Herre,” Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song),” and Sean Paul’s “Temperature.”
Each of those videos aren’t just memorable for their songs, but for the amazing production quality to them. “Thong Song” in particular became a cultural phenomenon for looking like the idealized version of spring break, while the video for Rihanna’s first single “Pon de Replay” catapulted her to stardom by shifting the typical male gaze-focused club videos to a storyline based on Rihanna just wanting to dance at the club with her besties. Plus, who can forget Sean Paul’s elaborate video for “Temperature” featuring an outfit change for each season?
Director X’s more recent music videos have made a big impact in pop culture, too, particularly his collaborations with Drake. The filmmaker is the mastermind behind Drake’s iconic videos for “Started From The Bottom” and “Hotline Bling,” as well as Drake’s most recent hit single “God’s Plan.” For the latter, Director X worked as executive producer rather than director, with protégé Karena Evans helming the video. The video for “God’s Plan” made headlines for its outlandish plot. There was a nearly million-dollar budget for the video, but instead of creating an elaborate set and story related to the song, Drake had other plans: as Billboard reports, he decided to have the film crew follow him as he gave away the money from the production to strangers.
Prior to releasing the video, Drake shared a picture of the clapboard on Instagram, with a caption claiming that it was “the most important thing I have ever done in my career." Billboard reports that the video was filmed in Miami, where Drake made donations all around the city. He first donated $25,000 to Miami Senior High School. He then visited University of Miami, where he gifted 31-year-old student Destiny James with a $50,000 check after hearing her story of her struggles to pay for her education. Drake's good deeds continued, with him giving $50,000 to a women and children’s homeless shelter and dropping by the Sabor Tropical Super Market to pay for all customer’s groceries.
And Director X was involved with it all. It may seem surprising to have a music video director be tasked with Superfly, a remake of a film that carries so much significance in the film industry, but considering his past work it actually makes sense. Director X has spent his career highlighting the work of artists of color, creating elaborate music videos that capture their unique style and story. The aesthetic of 2018’s Superfly is similar in that sense to Director X's hip hop videos, filled with glitz and glamour.
Given how Superfly is also paired with a soundtrack featuring artists whose videos Director X has worked on, including Miguel, Young Thug, Lil Wayne, and more, it might feel like the perfect pairing for those who have followed the filmmaker's extensive career.