The 10 Best Canadian Music Video Directors Right Now

Canadian directors have been killing it in the music video game for years now. Here, we rank the very best.

In 2020, you’re more likely to discover the next hot song thanks to a TikTok dance trend than a music video, but it doesn’t mean the latter has faded into irrelevance. A great music video not only brings a song to life, but can breathe additional life into it as well. Take a look at Childish Gambino’s single “This Is America,” for instance. Had the song just released as an audio single, it would have definitely garnered attention for its commentary on Black life and American culture, but not the type of virality the video—which garnered 12 million views in 24 hours—afforded it.

We all know Canada is a hotbed for music, but Canadian directors have been killing it in the music video game for years as well, creating some of the most iconic on-screen musical moments. Here are the 10 best Canadian music video directors right now.

10. Zac Facts

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Developing a unique and recognizable style is something that many creatives work at for years, but it’s a box Zac Facts has been able to check very early on in his career. Known for his dark and striking shooting style that relies heavily on wide pans and dramatic angles, Zac has been tapped to create visuals for a number of Canadian superstars and international artists alike. Two artists that he has worked with multiple times are Jessie Reyez and Tory Lanezthough all that work, and Complex Canada's above video, was done prior to Tory's alleged Megan Thee Stallion shooting. Lately, the Toronto native has been focusing on his own brand We Should Make History. —Josephine Cruz

9. Kat Webber

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She might be the new kid on the block compared to some other industry vets but in a short time, Kat Webber has established herself as the next great Canadian talent in the world of music videos. She first gained notoriety for editing the award-winning videos for Drake’s “In My Feelings” and “Nice For What,” and has since proved her directing chops with the recent successes of videos like Kiana Lede’s “Mad at Me” and DaBaby and DaniLeigh’s “Levi High.” Kat got her BFA in acting before stepping behind the camera, giving her a unique understanding of storytelling and the acting process. She’s now continuing the legacy of Director X as part of his newly established Fela roster. —Josephine Cruz

8. Emily Kai Bock

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A major talent with a style as distinctive as a feature filmmaker, Emily Kai Bock is one of the most interesting indie-rock video directors working. The Toronto-born artist studied film at Concordia in Montreal, and became an almost overnight talent to watch with her hugely accomplished debut video for the Grimes track “Oblivion.” Since then, she’s honed her striking, moody, and incredibly atmospheric style with acclaimed videos for Lorde, Grizzly Bear, and the Arcade Fire, for whom she won the coveted Prism Prize for Best Music Video. —Calum Marsh

7. Peter Huang

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Director Peter Huang, of Toronto, has been widely decorated for his music video work in Canada and in the United States, making him a genuine case of an international success story. His videos for Avicii, Martin Garrix, and Jessie Reyez have earned him nominations and awards at the Junos, the MuchMusic Video Awards, the MVAs, and even a Young Director prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. —Calum Marsh

6. Lacey Duke

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Lacey Duke knew she wanted to direct music videos after watching Missy Elliott’s “The Rain” video in her youth: “I knew I either wanted to live in a world like that, or create worlds like that,” she told Billboard in 2018. Now more than 20 years later, she’s created many amazing worlds for artists, in her signature dreamy style that is equal parts edgy, soft, and refreshing. Duke has created visuals for Janelle Monáe, SZA, Bryson Tiller, Summer Walker, and The Internet, among others, and last year was nominated for an NAACP award for Best Music Video as well as a VMA nomination for Best R&B Video. —Josephine Cruz

5. RT!

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Randall Thorne, better known by his pseudonym RT!, is one of Canada’s most versatile visual storytellers. Over the past decade he has directed over 150 music videos—including visuals for Kardinal Offishall (“Everyday Rudebwoy”) and Snoop Dogg (“Hot Girl”)—and has a handful of MuchMusic Video Awards to his name. He has also branched out to television and film, working on shows like Blindspot as well as The Time Traveler, which won best short film at the Canadian Film Festival. This year, RT! debuted Utopia Falls, an Afrofuturistic science-fiction series which can be streamed on CBC Gem and HULU. —Josephine Cruz

4. Karena Evans

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Since exploding onto the scene with her verite video for Drake’s Scorpion single “Nice for What,” Toronto’s Karena Evans has been the most exciting and buzzed-about music video director in the country by far. Still just 24, she’s also by far the youngest upstart auteur to find mainstream success, directing videos for SZA, Jay Rock, and even Coldplay, as well as of course continuing her ideal collaboration with Drizzy, on “In My Feelings” and “I’m Upset.” An MTV Video Award nominee and Prism Prize winner, she’s way ahead of the game and clearly has a long, bright future ahead of her. —Calum Marsh

3. Scott Cudmore

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The incredibly versatile Scott Cudmore cut his teeth making videos for cult Canadian indie rock acts like Teenanger, Metz, and the Wooden Sky, but as his work kept improving, he quickly caught the eye of international talent. These days Cudmore is directing videos for the likes of Selena Gomez, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber—though he hasn’t lost his bona fides as a real-deal talent as he’s made the transition from local rock n’ roll acts to major-label popstars. —Calum Marsh

2. Kid. Studio

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Kid. Studio is not a music video director but an acclaimed design studio founded and based in Toronto. But the group has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in the Canadian music video landscape over the last several years, at least since 2014, when Kid. director and co-founder Glenn Michael fielded a surprise phone call from The Weeknd’s people, asking if he would be interested in doing the video for “King of the Fall.” (“I thought they were calling the wrong people,” Michael told Complex in 2016.) Since that fateful call, Kid. has made videos for Future, French Montana, and Big Sean, among others. —Calum Marsh

1. Director X

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Before Drake cracked the U.S. market, Director X was probably Canada’s strongest link to the south-of-the-border music industry. Born Julien Christian Lutz, the man formerly known as Little X started his career in the 1990s as the protege of the legendary Hype Williams, working as a creative consultant on Williams’ 1998 cult classic Belly. His highly stylized visuals were a sensation, and X would go on to direct some of the most memorable music videos of the late '90s and early 2000s, working with industry superstars like Aaliyah, Jay Z, Kanye West, 112, Usher, and more. At home he was responsible for videos for many iconic Canadian rap songs of the moment including The Rascalz' “Northern Touch” and Choclair's “Let’s Ride.” And while X’s output has slowed slightly in the last few years, he’s still able to create a viral smash with ease, as he did with the infamous “Hotline Bling” video and more recently with the visual for Future and Drake’s “Life Is Good.” Recently, Director X also launched production company Fela to develop and represent other BIPOC directors. —Josephine Cruz

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