MT: The "Bedtime Story" video is really
a "solo" performance in the Re-Invention show
and has no visual references to the songs it blends as an
Can you tell our readers something about the concept behind
this video and about how did it originate?
I worked some concepts about what I wanted to do, and the
first time we sat with M was very funny because I had not
seen the "Love Profusion" video, but when I was
narrating what I wanted to do to Madonna, she was laughing
because it was "Love Profusion".
I mean it wasn’t "Love Profusion", but it
sure sounded like it because we had this water, and we had
this breakage of glass and we had this destruction…
Anyway, so I had to take my ideas and go back and then comeback
with new ones.
Madonna picked some things, she said why don’t you
just have me do this and this instead of that. It definitely
was a collaborative effort.
But again, it is a performance video.
She wanted to have eye contact with the audience so that,
while she is not actually on stage, the audience feels that
she is still there - and that’s how it came about.
We brought some ideas to Madonna, they got deconstructed,
we put them back together, we added some more and in the
process we locked in to this three scenarios.
We wanted to do her on top of the scanner which was sort
of reminiscence of her first video "Bedtime Story",
then we have her in the box which references the video that
was done with Mondino, and then I had her dancing on top
of the scanner which is a completely different thing.
Then there is the white horse, which was like her animal
spirit. at the beginning she was like, "well…
why did you pick a horse?".
And I explained to her that, to me, a mare was like her:
beautiful, strong, indomitable and elegant, I’m sure
it sounded like I was kissing her ass but really that’s
how I saw her.
At one point she wanted to be a bird but we agreed that
it was not going to be as cinematic as the horse and I’m
glad that we used the horse, it worked out beautifully.
MT: Yes, let's talk a bit
more about the white horse sequence in the video. Was it
filmed on purpose?
At certain times it looks that Madonna and the horse are
closely tied in the action - it's even hinted they might
be two incarnations of the same soul when eyes of both are
shown as a close up.
Which is the deeper meaning of the horse in the story?
The horse is supposed to be a mirror soul of Madonna, a
different incarnation if you will.
While it is not narrative you have these
images that could be paralleled to the concepts of Kabalah,
moving through the 7 courtains to get reconnected to the
source: "the light" and the struggle to keep clarity
of vision and heart.
The eyes locking at the end it ties in to the concept that
we’re all part of the same unit - the same energy.
And finding our way back to the source is the ultimate goal.
Unlike Paradise, "Bedtime Story" already received
a video treatment and even a remixed version at the time
the single came out.
Do you like the original video and was it challenging working
on a song knowing that somehow what you were creating was
going to be compared to the first video of the song?
This was a true case of "re-Invention".
DG: Are you kidding
me? Tha's one of my favorite videos.
It was directed by Mark Romanek and it already has a
place in the museum of Modern Art. So I actually had to
disconnect, because otherwise fear would take over and
we wouldn’t be able to create anything.
I treated it like a completely different song, and I’m
very good about denial so, once I accepted it was a different
song, it had nothing to do with the original video - but
then again I did end up doing the scanner scene, so...
MT: You mentioned the remix used in
your video, that is a special edit of the "Orbital
Mix" of "Bedtime Story". Who came up with
the idea of using that particular mix and were there other
options being considered before that choice as before
the tour Madonna was spotted on the street with the "Bedtime
Story" maxi single in her hands.
DG: In fact we were not sure that we
were going to do "Bedtime Stories" as the interlude
video or that we were going to do an interlude video at
all. I know Jamie and M considered various songs before
landing on this one.
MT: When was
the video filmed and was the shooting long and difficult?
DG: The video was filmed in Los Angeles
at the Culver City Studios. Because they were rehearsing
there, it was easier for everybody and if Madonna or Jamie
wanted to go check something it was there.
It took a week to bring in the set, again, we were shooting
the video but we were also shooting all the other elements,
the dancers for "Mother and Father", all the
elements for "Die Another Day", "American
Life", the "Starf*cker" sign for "Hanky
Panky" we were shooting a lot of things, so in the
middle of shooting those elements we were also preparing
for the video.
We shot M on a Sunday, which was her only day off, but that
was the only window of opportunity, so we already knew we
had to be very precise, we had been told: you have her for
ten hours (which in MV world is nothing).
It was an incredibly ambitious shoot with lots of set ups
so the day before the shoot, we practically shot the video
without Madonna. Basically we went through every set up
where everybody, every person involved in the video knew
what lens we were going to use what position we were going
to be at, what light was on, what fan was off, everything
was rehearsed so that the day that we actually filmed M
everything could flow with military precision.
With Madonna there is no down time, I mean is go, go, go.
MT: You said you did some shooting of dancers
for "Mother and Father"...
DG: Yes, originally "Mother
and Father" was just going to be a song by itself and
it ended up being tied together with "Intervention".
There were many elements we used in that one. If you remember
the songs opens with a sacred heart and the images of Jesus
Christ on the Cross.
We wanted to create an enviroment to show the connection
of Madonna with her mother who was very Catholic as you
As we move to” intervention” you see two characters
trying to free themselves from the binds that keep them
oppressed-Like the heart pumping in the center screen is
trying to free itself from the thorns that wrap it-Like
, I guess, M struggled to free herself frmo the guilt induced
by her Catholic upbringing.
MT: You also filmed the choir scene used
during Like A Prayer in the Re-Invention tour. That was
really one of the highlights of the show in terms of interaction
with the audience - Madonna used to call it "the non-sitting
It's difficult to guess in which time the video is set if
you look at the people singing, but it's clearly contemporary
if you look at the location and this makes the images more
impressive. Can you tell us something about shooting that
DG: I was also impressed
the first night when I watched the performance, I knew it
was going to be a powerful one but I never could have imagined
just how powerful it was going to be, I was really taken
back when I sat in the audience and I watched the reaction
of the audience and how this magical energy engulfs the
M had worked with the LA choir before so that was a no brainier.
Wardrobe was designed by Arianne Phillips, Madonna wanted
this very specific time period costumes so we brought the
references with the wardrobe stylist and they locked it
and they had to search all these second hand stores and
costume shops to get them.
About the locations, I picked the bridge because
it worked great as a metaphor for moving forward and evolving
through life but mostly because I thought it’s industrial
feel would look cool.
The day of the shoot we shot the couples for "Nothing
Fails" in the morning, it was rainy and overcast (and
it worked great because it gave it this very melancholic
feel). It rained the whole day.
However as soon as the choir started singing the rain stopped,
the sky opened up and we had the most beautiful and magical
Everyone on the crew felt that there was a very spiritual
energy present during the shot and I think that that energy
was projected through the screens during the show...
got to post I started looking at these electrical towers
that are in the background (again chosen purely for aesthetics)
and they look like sculptures of the 10 Zefirot of the Kabbalah
- which is another visual along with the 72 names of God
that was used during this song.
This number in particular was for me, one where I think
all the spiritual energy that M put forth into the creation
of her show was imminently manifested.
MT: We understand that the work on the
video projections became quite hectic when the opening night
date approached. How was it like, is there something that
happened during those working hard days you would like to
share with our readers?
DG: Where did you get your information
from? I think the issues you are referencing had to do with
getting the screens to work but that’s not our department
that’s another department, but, hey, that happens,
it’s a big show and there’s going to be tweaks
- but as with anything Madonna by showtime everything was
there and everything was perfect.
MT: Actually I was thinking of the impact
of some changes to the setlist that happened quite late
from a production point of view. "Material Girl",
DG: "Material Girl"
was added like four weeks before opening night. Originally,
like you know, we wanted to use the image of Einstein but
then we couldn't get rights to it, so we changed it to Enrico
In the creative process you have to be able to react quickly
to change and adapt, so that’s what we did when new
elements kept getting added like this song or Missy Elliot’s
apperance on "Into the Hollywood Groove" or the
flags of Palestine & Israel flags coming together at
the end of "Holiday".
MT: And did you also work on those songs
that were taken off from the final setlist, like "Swim"
or "I'm so Stupid"? We had the chance to talk
to Jamie King in one of our interviews and he told us that
the Chris Cunnigham footage was originally meant to be used
DG: Oh yes we did many cuts, there was always an
element of experimentation throughout the process.
For example, we did a cut to "Stupid", using the
footage from Mondino's "Hollywood". It was really
great but it ended up being deleted from the setlist. That
was really fantastic.
The Chris Cunningham piece was interesting because we broght
it to M in one of our fisrt meetings as a reference for
"Swim" and she said : “why don’t we
just use that” so she called Chirs and it was done
- of course when the song changed to "Frozen"
so did the immagery but I think it really worked better
MT: Yes, it worked really well with "Frozen"...
DG: It was fantastic with "Frozen".
MT: You also edited the Steven Klein footage
for "The Beast Within".
DG: Steven had shot that
footage for "Xstatic Process” he sent us all
this raw footage and then we put it together.
"The Beast Within" was one of the first pieces
we started working on and one of the last pieces to be finished.
There was a lot of detail put into it so that every shot
told a story. Jamie was very involved, after every rehearsal
he would show up at Veneno at 3 - 4 am and we would go through
every shot and make sure it was the right one.
And then, of course, he would call me hours later to tell
me it didn't really work and he had some new ideas and we
would have to meet again that night and try something else...
It was all worth it though, I love the intreplay of all
the screens It was the closest that we came to what I guess
you would call a Video Installation.
The role of the video backdrops in the "re-Invention
Tour" was bigger than the one they had in any previous
Knowing Madonna as an artist who always brings cutting edge
technology in her concerts and anticipates trends, we can
think that the role of the projections is becoming bigger
What's you opinion as a professional about this, and how
do you think this will change the way to conceive a live
show in the future?
DG: The use of video as an integral part
of stage design is definitely here to stay.
Now you don’t have to use backdrops, you can just
change your image and, in a minute, go from Japan to New
You can also use video as lighting - and, of course, it
provides a lot of excitement and movement to any stage production.
However, many people still do not understand the process
that is why you see many stage performances where there
is an insane amount spent on screens but nobody thinks about
what is going to be projected on them so by the time production
hits there is no budget for it and you end up with fantastic
screens and some psychodelic BS.
Everytime I work with Jamie King screens are defined early
on, so that as the show designed progresses the screens
and the content become part of the vocabulary just like
choreography, wardrobe or lighthing.
MT: From a technical point of view, the
"re-Invention Tour" was quite different.
The soundboard and mixer were close to the stage, and in
the place where the audio equipment used to be in the classic
live concerts we found a huge and complex control center
for lights and videos.
Was it hard to make everything working together smoothly,
was there something purposely developed for this particular
DG: You would have to talk to the video
director which was Christian Lamb, Christian directed the
cameras during the show and at the same time he’s
in charge of making sure that video gets up to the screens
and the equipment that makes it happen.
One of our biggest challenges was shooting and designing
elements for multiple ratios: we had screens that sometimes
were 4X3 others 2X3 and then our backgrounds which was cinema
So our DP, production designers and motion graphics designers
constantly had to be working with these variables in mind.
The Graphics department created ultra large files that could
be cropped to each specific screen without loosing resolution
and, of course, that would work compositionally.
As far as shooting, PJ kind of invented a ground glass that
would tranform film formats to our screen sizes. Using full
aperture and framing to the various screen sizes so that
, in the transfer, we could stay away from the grain and
Shooting was done is Super 35mm, Super16mm and some elements
in DV for motion graphics.
The motion graphics department was headed by Art Directors
Ludovic Schorno and Camille Chu. They designed using Photoshop
and Illustrator. Annimations were done mostly in Mac G5
towers using a multitude of softwares including: After-FX
, Maya, Cinema 4D and all editing was mostly done in Final
The DVD technology allows bringing a new way to interact
with live show footage. Multi-angle sequences and gems like
full screen videos are already featured in many recent releases.
The fans were desperately hoping to get the complete video
for "Paradise (Not For Me)" in the "Drowned
World Tour" DVD but this did not materialize.
"Bedtime Story" is now rumored to be part of the
bonus features of the long-awaited Re-Invention Tour DVD.
Shall we keep our finger crossed about this?
DG: Yes you should, but
you know as much as I do, once we finish the show, we are
history so… I heard rumors that they’re working
on the DVD but I don’t know what’s going to
be on that DVD but it certainly would be cool.
MT: As a video director, your work ended
before the tour started, and this was quite unique compared
to those who were doing the live concert.
Nonetheless, as everybody else, you had to wait until the
show hit the road to test the audience's reaction. How was
Which shows did you attend and what memory do you have of
DG: My work is always
done before the show starts because again, my work is the
video content so everything has to be shot, animated, edited,
laid in and tested before the show opens.
I attended the shows here in Los Angeles and then some in
San Jose, the audience reaction was just amazing, There
was not one moment where I thought we missed the mark, we
were very blessed in that sense and I’m sure if something
had not worked I would have been called to change it.
MT: Another very different thing in the
"re-Invention Tour" was the constant presence
of the documentary crew that not only filmed the show as
it went on the road, but also fixed some great moments of
the process that brought the show to life.
Did you happen to be filmed by the documentary crew, and
how do you think the final product will look like?
DG: Yeah, Jonas and his crew were here
at the studio, but overall you’re so busy, you have
to be extremely focused on what you’re doing, so you
don’t really notice anything that’s going on
around you. The "re-Invention Tour" managed to
be socially relevant, political, spiritual and entertaining
- I don’t know many artist that can do that successfully
so if the doc captures even a glimpse of Madonna’s
process. You bet I want to devour every frame of it.
MT: Speaking about the documentary Madonna herself
said the documentary has changed a lot since the beginning
ending up being a story about humanity...
DG: That's what happens with
documentaries, you're documenting - ideally you are not
manupulating or "creating".
MT: You recently worked again with Jamie
King on Paulina Rubio's tour, how is working with Jamie?
And what about working with Paulina that shares with you
the same roots?
DG: Working with Jamie is always exciting,
I admire him so much it’s such a fantastic motivating
force, creative force… he’s brilliant and inspirational,
he’s a doer. We have great synergy and we’re
comfortable in each other’s space so that we can spend
4 months in a small tiny room and not feel suffocated.
I begged him to come and direct it, I had done the "Algo
Tienes" video for Pau and then she called me and said
she was starting this tour-I love Pau so I knew she had
to have the best and that is Jamie King.
with Paulina is great, she’s crazy, that’s just
something that you can count on, but she’s also a
very intelligent woman, when you sit with her she’s
a very savvy business woman and she knows how she wants
to project herself.
MT: There are a lot of different artists you worked
with, is there a video you directed for one of them you're
particularly proud of?
DG: I love the stuff that
I’ve done for Madonna but the stuff that I’ve
done for Christina Aguilera for her "Stripped"
tour was equally fulfilling.
As a music video form I would have to say the video "Algo
Tienes" for Paulina Rubio was a great experience because
it was so ambitious and we didn’t have the budget
and we didn’t have the time, yet we pushed through
and we did it and had a blast in the process.
MT: Dago, what are you currently working
on and what are your future projects?
DG: Actually I work with Madonna again.
I'm creating some elements for the documentary.
Now it goes to film format and it's a different format.
And I'm working with Ricky Martin. He is coming out with
a new album. and of course pursuing music videos, that's
MT: Gracias Dago for this interview.
It was incredible to have a chance to meet you and hear
all these great stories form you and get to know you and
your work a little better.
And let me say, thanks for the gift of those incredible
Madonna images you shoot - a dream for every fan. All the
best for all your upcoming projects!
DG: Thank you for the invitation and keep
up the excellent work.
MadonnaTribe would like to thank the super cool Dago González
and everybody at Veneno, inc.
Thans to Ariel De Los Santos for his precious help and assistance.
Production captures courtesy of Veneno, inc. used by permission.