Demi Lovato 'Simply Complicated' Documentary Director Hannah Lux Davis Talks Bringing Project Life

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Hannah Lux Davis

It’s the morning after the Tuesday (Oct. 17) world premiere of Demi Lovato’s documentary Simply Complicated and director Hannah Lux Davis is buzzing. “It was amazing to see it with an audience,” says Davis of the project she’s been engulfed in for the better part of a year. “It was definitely the hardest project I’ve ever done. I don’t want to say it was draining, but it was mentally exhausting.”

Known for being one of pop’s most prolific music video directors, Davis has left her unique mark and visual style on everything from the video for Jason Derulo’s rising single “If I’m Lucky” to Lil Wayne, Drake and Future’s “Love Me.” In addition, she’s also known for developing close working relationships with a bevy of pop starlets, directing strings of videos for everyone from Ariana Grande (including “Love Me Harder,” “Focus,” “Into You” and “Bang Bang”) and Hailee Steinfeld (“Most Girls,” “Love Myself,” “At My Best”). 

When it comes to her run of collaborations with Lovato, the two first met in 2013 when Davis was chosen to direct the video for her single “Cool for the Summer.”

“Demi had always been somebody who I had been a fan of, even since the Camp Rock days,’” says Davis of the Disney Channel original movie that was an early booster of Lovato’s fame. “I’m such a sucker for pop music and had been wanting to work with her, so when I was officially named director for the ‘Cool for the Summer’ video on a Friday, we shot it on a Monday. It was an insane turn-around.”

At the time, Lovato was going through a creative transition with “Summer” her first single since her teen pop days, Davis says she was eager to grow into an adult pop star. “At the time, she was going through a phase of her career and music where she had more control and creativity,” explains Davis. “She was evolving as an artist, so working on that video was a cool time to get in with her and her team.”

The video was a success, having since garnered a more than 290 million views on YouTube, and Davis and Lovato reunited this year on the singer’s equally well-recieved visuals for “Sorry Not Sorry” and the Cheat Codes-collaboration “No Promises.”In addition, they also bonded over coincidentally attending same gym, the exclusive Los Angeles training facility Unbreakable Performance Center. “That was a great place to bond, considering her entire team goes there,” says Davis who became close to the singer while they both sweated to Unbreakable’s ruthless workouts. “Demi would also bring in her new songs to play at the gym and it naturally allowed for a collaboration.”

At the same time, Lovato was in talks with YouTube for an episodic documentary series. While that initial idea fell apart, the eventual result was to instead create a stand-alone documentary. From there, Davis was brought on board and, a week after singing on, the director found herself in Morocco with Lovato and her team. “We started out just looking at her schedule to see what was happening,” says Davis of what would become an intensive globe-trotting shoot. “We saw she was going to be at a music festival in Africa, so it was like, ‘Well, I guess we’ll go to Africa.’ Then she had something in Dallas, then Cannes.”

While most documentaries take years to shoot and edit, Davis was working on a truncated schedule, with filming taking place from June to September. There was also the juggling act of hitting on all of the themes of Demi’s eventful life, from the personal (her stint in rehab, the death of her father) to the professional (recording her album). The outcome is what Davis calls a “raw” look at her life, even featuring an incident that involved Lovato punching her backup dancer while on a two-month long bender. (In it, interviewee Nick Jonas refers to it as an “episode.”)

“Obviously, she’s had a lot of trials and tribulations in her life, so it wasn't a simple cookie-cutter timeline of events” says Davis. “I had to be a sponge to every situation that was happening around me; not only what Demi was doing and where she was at and what she was going through, but the people in her life as well. So many people have been affected by her, not just her fans but those in her circle. Their lives are so wrapped up in Demi’s world, even they’re on this roller coaster.”

In the end, Davis is pleased with the final product. “At the end of the day, I really like what we made,” she says. “We knew the potential was there and we knew Demi had a story to tell, so I just wanted to make sure we did it justice.”

Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated is out now, watch it here: