Q&A with Hannah Lux Davis
The star music video director on being an early riser and what it's like on set
As one of the music industry’s premier directors, Washington state native Hannah Lux Davis boasts an impressive. She's the brainchild behind some of pop's biggest music videos including the sultry “Bang Bang” with Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Jessie J as well as the viral clips for Hailee Steinfeld's “Most Girls.” In celebration of the recent release of her video for Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry,” we caught up with Lux Davis on her creative process, how she stays fit, and more.
How does a director prepare for a shoot?
"If you’re lucky you get a week of prep, which means coming up with a concept and getting it approved. As the director, I’m in charge of putting together a team that will execute my vision. You have to decide who's going to shoot it, art direct it, style it. You also have to choose the location, who you’re going to cast, and what kind of shots you need to get. These are all of the things that go into making a three-and-a-half minute music video. It’s a lot of emphasis on detail, which people may not realize."
What is a typical day like on set?
"The shoot day itself is usually at least 16 hours, though it can be less depending on the size of the budget. You want to have as much time as you can, especially if there are a lot of scenes. You also have to take into account wardrobe changes. For example, a female artist can have a look change that lasts two hours when she's switching her hair and makeup, and that can eat up a lot of time."
Which music video has been the most meaningful to you?
"I’d say "Bang Bang" with Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Jessie J; it was a game-changer for me. From the start, I felt that it was going to be something really special and a lot of people took a chance on me to do a video of that scope with three major artists. From booking it to shooting and editing, it was the biggest job I had done at that point. It was a two-day shoot on a backlot, which is a huge deal because you're working with such a large space. We brought in helicopters, built sets, and even created fake rooftops. Plus, I was dealing with three big artists who needed equal screen time. It felt like a lot of pressure throughout the entire process, but it was a cool opportunity for me to put my style and myself on the map. Before then, no one said 'Oh, that looks like a Hannah Lux Davis video.' With "Bang Bang", I was able to put my mark on the world of music videos."
Do you have any tricks that keep you focused?
"A major focus for me is simply being organized. I have to be organized everywhere, from my home to my car to my set. As soon as I started to realize how important that is, the more functional and creative I was able to be. If you’re trying to be innovative and your desktop is a mess, that can be a roadblock. I find my level of organization directly correlates to my productivity."
How do you relax and clear your mind on busy days?
"I work out every day at 7:00 a.m. regardless of my call time. Scheduling it that early makes sure nothing else gets in the way. It’s also a time when no one else is bothering me, so I’m able to just focus on the gym. Sometimes when I’m there I’ll be lifting weights and think I’m having a tough time, but then another part of my brain says 'this is cake compared to what you have to do at work.'"
What’s your workout like?
"I do weight training and circuit training for an hour with a trainer. For cardio, I’ll do MMA or go for a run."