Hannah Lux Davis was always drawn to directing. The Washington native, known for her work directing music videos such as Ariana Grande’s “Focus,” Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself,” and Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry,” was interested in filmmaking at a young age. First creating videos with friends, calling herself a ‘punk wannabe’ who was obsessed with Avril Lavigne and making skate videos, the summer before her senior year of high school she came across a magazine advertising a film camp program in Los Angeles at the Universal Backlot. The program was calling her name, and before she knew it, she was off to L.A. with high schoolers from all over the world.
The experience was eye-opening as Davis had never been to L.A., nor did she know anything about the industry, but she knew she wanted to be a part of it. After high school, she would go on to graduate from the New York Film Academy’s year-long program and then attended the Los Angeles Film School in Hollywood as an editing major with a directing minor. “I chose to be an editing major because I figured I love to edit and my whole film life I edited my own projects, so I’ll just do an editing major because it’s better to learn a technical trade in school,” she shares.
Obsessed with Floria Sigismondi, a world-renowned director who has worked with artists like David Bowie, Christina Aguilera and Incubus, Davis found an internship with the company she was representing, Revolver Films. She tells us, “Having an internship with THE director whose career I was admiring, that experience was pretty surreal.” Davis gained experience on set as a production assistant, which, although eye-opening, was stressful as tasks were not assigned ahead of time and it was difficult to be prepared. Eventually, Davis would go on to be a production assistant and editor for various companies, but realized she needed to do more and became a makeup artist while still hustling to find bands who would hire her to do something creative.
By the time she was 26, Davis began assisting on set of music videos, commercials, films, and red carpets, regardless of if it paid because the value in networking would open more doors. Eventually, an opportunity was presented to her when an artist she did a music video for at 19 introduced her to a band with a budget. This then led to an introduction to another band with a manager who had the budget to hire a producer. The producer Davis would go on to hire from Craigslist knew a director rep who knew another that acted as a liaison for a record label. Needless to say, her hard work and dedication was paying off and Davis was finally making a name for herself. Her first budgeted videos were for Scottish alternative rockers, Twin Atlantic, who took a chance on her and her video concept; however, it was her video for Lil Wayne’s “Love Me” with Drake and Future that would lead to her big break.
Davis has a uniquely colorful style that can be seen in her videos for Hilary Duff’s “Sparks” and David Guetta’s “Hey Mama” featuring Nicki Minaj. “That’s my style. That’s what I love to do, that’s what I like to look at, that’s what I like to watch. Obviously, I’m going to grow and learn and evolve as an artist, you have to be flexible with the times and what the trends are,” she explains. “But that being said, I’m extremely collaborative and in no way am I going to force anything on some artist. At the end of the day, it’s their video, not mine. If they want something, great. It will look like something I make when I’m done with it.”
Recently, Davis directed Demi Lovato’s documentary, Simply Complicated. Though exciting, the project was also scary since there was no script. With a story that has been told in one form or another over the years in snippets, Davis wanted to make sure they were telling something that was more authentic. “I wanted to make sure we were telling her story in a way that felt like a real humanizing, relatable story because it is…I knew I had this opportunity to tell the Demi Lovato story and it wasn’t cookie cutter or straight laced, it was a very real, raw story.”
Davis spent time researching simultaneously while being in production in order to be unguarded. She explains,“I just had to be so raw in order to soak up what was going on around me, but also to make those around me comfortable with me in talking and sharing information.” The task was mentally and emotionally exhausting, and Davis had to think like a therapist in order to dig deep. “In Demi’s case, as you saw, she’s still really figuring out a lot of who she is,” Davis explains. “She’s 25, but she’s been in this very bubble of a world since she was a little girl. In order for me to get breakthroughs on camera, I had to sort of probe her with self-development and personal development tools and it was a lot of research on that end.” Over time, the story unveiled itself and the truth began seeping through the surface. Though it was the hardest project Davis has ever done, seeing how people were touched by Lovato’s story through the documentary was rewarding for her.
At only 31 years old, Davis is living the life she’s always dreamed of. “I really do think this is the only thing I’m meant to be doing,” she shares. No longer having to take on odd jobs, Davis has the ability to choose the projects she wants to do and is passionate about while working alongside those she finds inspiring. In the future, fans can expect to see more from Davis including a Gatorade commercial, a video for Love Magazine’s Love Advent for model Alessandra Ambrosio, and promos for Paramount Network’s American Woman series.
A version of this interview ran in the current print issue of Substream Magazine