Francis Lawrence, who grew up in Los Angeles, showed an early interest in filmmaking. He wrote screenplays, shot Super 8 movies and took high school film classes. He continued to study film at Loyola Marymount University and after graduating, began to make music videos for a friend who owned a small record label.
Lawrence soon became a multi-award winning director, working with some of the biggest superstars in music, including Destiny's Child, Ricky Martin, Lauryn Hill, Jennifer Lopez and Sarah McLachlan. He has won several MTV Video Music awards and received the 2002 MVPA Director of the Year award. He also won a Latin Grammy in 2002 for Shakira's video "Suerte."
Along the way, Lawrence has directed television commercials as well, for companies such as CoverGirl, McDonald's, Oldsmobile and Foot Locker. But his highest profile project was Will Smith's video for "Black Suits Coming" for the movie Men in Black II (2002). This enabled him to segue into film, where he got the chance to pitch his ideas and drawings for the screen version of Constantine, based on the DC Comics/Vertigo Hellblazer Graphic Novels. His vision, including his ideas for the characters, impressed the producers, who were used to video directors focusing on the looks of each frame and not on the development of the story. He won the job and made his feature film directing debut with Constantine (2005), starring Keanu Reeves in the title role.