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 interlude.

Can you tell our readers something about the concept behind this video and about how did it originate?

 
DG: 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?

DG: 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.

 
 


MT: 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.
Period.

 
 

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 know.

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 down song".
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 footage?

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 venue.

 

 


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 sunset...

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...

 

When we 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", for example.

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 Ferni.

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 for "Swim"...

 


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 with "Frozen
".

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... (LOL)

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.

 

MT: The role of the video backdrops in the "re-Invention Tour" was bigger than the one they had in any previous Madonna show.

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 and 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 York.

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 show?



 

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 2:35:

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 maximize resolution.

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 Cut.

 

MT: 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 that experience?
Which shows did you attend and what memory do you have of them?

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.


Working 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 my thing.

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.



 


Back to Part One

 

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.

Copyright 2005 MadonnaTribe
Production captures courtesy of Veneno, inc. used by permission.

 


 
   
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