- LOS ANGELES
FELA, a Toronto-based production house launched in summer 2020 by founding partners Taj Critchlow and Julien Christian Lutz (professionally known as Director X), has extended its reach to the U.S., opening an office in Los Angeles and securing strategic sales representation on both coasts, connecting with Dana Balkin and Frank Antonoff from Resource in the West and Barrie Isaacson Management in New York.
FELA plans to engage in the U.S. ad arena in the same way Critchlow and Director X have penetrated the American music industry. Close collaborators for over 20 years, the two have worked with musical icons such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna. Director X and Critchlow have also teamed on work for brands including Bud Light, Facebook, Toyota, Fuji, American Express and Nike.
Both Director X and Critchlow serve as co-founders, managing partners and EPs at FELA. Additionally Director X is on the company’s roster of filmmakers in the U.S. and Canada. Director X had previously been handled in the American ad market by production house m ss ng p eces but now has consolidated his representation throughout North America at FELA.
With a body of work spanning music videos, commercials, branded content, documentaries and films, FELA looks to provide a voice for the unheard and underrepresented while injecting relevancy and cultural authenticity into everything they create. Critchlow and X have adopted the mission to continue the fight for a diverse and inclusive media industry. Critchlow explained, “Being a Black executive, I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and women within our creative industries.”
This, he continued, “led me to come up with our company mantra: ‘Own Your Culture. Tell Your Stories.’ It embodies the state of mind I share with so many others who are tired of asking for a seat at the table. It’s time to put ownership back into the BIPOC entrepreneurs, artists, and communities that create the work and gain authority of our own narratives.”
Director X added, “FELA is looking forward to the day that inclusion and diversity is the new standard versus a mandate. Culture drives everything, and we need to empower the people that drive it, PERIOD.”
To bring its ethos stateside, FELA has assembled a team which includes COO Dean Rosen, creative executive producer Karena Evans, and Fuliane Petikyan who has been made managing partner and will head up the L.A. operation.
Filmmaker and actress Evans is, like X, on FELA’s directorial roster in the U.S. and Canada for advertising and music videos. She had previously been repped in the U.S. market by m ss ng p eces. Evans directed the acclaimed pilot for the STARZ series P-Valley as well as the first two episodes of HBO’s Max’s highly anticipated reboot of Gossip Girl.
Rosen becomes COO of FELA in both the U.S. and Canada. He had earlier been part of Critchlow’s support team at Popp Rok, a Toronto-based company.
And Petikyan is a veteran producer who had been freelancing as a longtime top-of-list collaborator of the FELA crew.
FELA’s U.S. directorial roster for commercials and music videos also includes Aaron A, Kat Webber, Justin Singer, Lesean Harris, Jasmin Mozaffari, Justin Abernethy, Peter Huang, Kit Weyman, Karen Chapman, BlackPowerBarbie and RT!. Additionally directors Jackson Tisi and Robert Llauro are available for music videos only. FELA’s lineup of filmmakers is 53 percent BIPOC and 38 percent female-identifying.
FELA’s notable accomplishments in its first year out of Toronto included a Grammy nomination for Drake and Future’s “Life is Good” helmed by Director X, and the release of Underplayed, a feature-length documentary funded by Bud Light. The latter, produced by Director X and Critchlow, was directed by Stacey Lee who continues to be on FELA’s directorial roster in Canada.