Fernando Lugo: The Mastermind Behind Your Favorite Latinx Music Videos
“I started in medicine, but then I quit when I saw blood.”
If Fernando Lugo would have stayed in medical school, all of the hottest videos we love and adore in the Latin trap and reggaetón scene wouldn't exist. The 29-year-old has shot 32 videos for Bad Bunny alone. His career spans 10 years and includes directing videos for Drake, J Balvin, Ozuna, El Alfa, Wisin, Cardi B and Enrique Iglesias — to name a few.
Born in Veracruz, Mexico, to a Mexican mother and a father from Spain, Lugo felt an attraction to cameras when he was quite young: “I was like 7 or 8, I was always, like, hanging with a camera on Christmas, taking the camera away from my uncle. I thought it was super cool,” he shared with CHICA about his youth in the early 1990s. At 7, he moved to Miami with his mother and Puerto Rican stepdad. “That's why I have a bit of a Puerto Rican accent,” he chuckles.
Despite his family settling in the U.S. near Puerto Rico, his reggaetón influences can be traced back to his birthplace. As Mexico is such a large country, where you live geographically determines what you listen to. In the north, there is a large mariachi audience, and in the center, around Mexico City, EDM is everywhere. Veracruz, with its beachy vibe, is the reggaetón capital of Mexico. Growing up there, Lugo learned to appreciate pioneers like Chombo Panama. “Veracruz is more like the center south, and it's a little more Caribbean influenced, so you find strong salsa, merengue and reggaetón influences.” The way the genre was heard in Panama and Puerto Rico in the 1990s, “it was heard in Veracruz at the same time,” he says. Twenty-one years later, he would work with Chombo Panama.
Lugo also credits the afternoons he spent watching TV after school: “I used to watch the Cantiflas film movies, the black-and-white Mexican films with Pedro Infante, like the golden age of the Mexican cinema. I feel like I have that super marked in my head.”
A '90s kid at heart, he also finds inspo in his earliest memories of mainstream American rock. “Limp Bizkit, Korn and Papa Roach — I remember those days on MTV. You would sit down to watch the Top 10, back in '96, '95, and Nirvana also,” he reveals. “It was the first connection that I had to, like, sitting down for an hour and seeing music videos. I still remember those music videos like it was yesterday.”
He started to edit videos as young as 12: “I used to download boxing highlights of, like, the Mexican profiling mark, like the Mexican boxers and Puerto Rican boxers. And I used to edit those clips together with like reggaetón music.” As a teen, he decided to give the music industry a try as a reggaetón artist. But, as he told Billboard, after seeing how he looked while rapping in a video, he decided to stay behind the lens, not in front of it.
He did make an attempt at a more practical career in college. However, aside from not being a fan of blood, he realized that he would be bored pursuing medicine and working in a hospital. “I didn't see myself doing it for the rest of my life.”
Lugo shot his first official video for Miami native Justin Quiles. “I reached out to him in 2008, saying, ‘Yo, bro, let's make a music video.' And he asked me if I ever shot a music video. I lied to him, I said, ‘si, si,' I've done stuff for school. He had nothing to lose, he never shot a music video and wasn't famous like he is now. He was working at Golden Corral. I was working at the Hilton.”
One of the things that makes Lugo's video-making journey interesting is the brotherly bonds he formed with many of the trailblazers in reggaetón and Latin trap as they worked their way up the industry ladder together.
Regarding his time-tested connection with Bad Bunny: “It's been cool working with him, especially because I've been working with him before the fame. To witness his growth has been an experience that happens every 20, 30 years. For me to live that process with a global artist, it seems like a dream,” says Lugo.
The director hopes to dive into the world of film, and we can't wait to follow him. Till then, familiarize yourself with his work by checking out some of our favorites.
“Caro” – Bad Bunny
“For this video and ‘Solo de Mi,' we had time. Bad Bunny and I met weeks before to come up with the ideas. But the most important thing is that he wanted to make a statement, send out a message — of love, to love everyone. I give it to him, because he wasn't scared. Nowadays, people are more closed up and don't say their opinions. For an artist as big as him to make a brave action, this sh-t is going to change the whole industry.”
“Solo De Mi” – Bad Bunny
“Corte, Porte y Elegancia” – J Balvin and Arcangel
“When you listen to the song, it takes you back to the '70s. So when speaking with Balvin, he came up with the concept of incorporating 'fros. We shot the video in one day and only had one day of pre-production. I wrote the script two days before the shoot.”
“Probablemente” – Christian Nodal Ft. David Bisbal
On working with a fellow Mexican paisano: “It was very motivating. I was able to bring my skills and talents to my homeland.”
“Soy Peor” – Bad Bunny
“I was called the 21st of December to shoot on the 23rd. I only had a day and a half, and it turned out amazing. It's one of my favorite experiences. The way it was done was crazy, we ended up at my mom's house at 5 a.m.” said Lugo. The director naturally works well under pressure — his adrenaline enables the creation of some of the most viewed videos in the game.
“MIA” – Bad Bunny ft. Drake
Lugo wanted to be as diverse as possible. He also wanted to embrace the Miami, Latina and Boricua community. “I asked for black, Latina, white and Asian women,” said the director.