Thursday, September 15, 2005


For the past two nights I've scarffed down the newly released Work of Mark Romanek DVD. As if having this trove of pop art goodness wasn't enough, the set is loaded with docs and commentaries. Here are three of my favorite anecdotes, gleaned from Romanek's commentary track.

  1. Because he was directing a Madonna video and the height of her popularity, Romanek wanted to use that power. They agreed on the concept of the video--we watch as Madonna makes an arty commercial/video--and decided to aim for an iconic director to play the role of the director. First choice: Jean-Luc Godard. Madonna writes a fan letter/request and faxes it to JLG. They never hear from him. Second choice: Fellini. She faxes a request to Fellini and hears back promptly. He loves the idea and seems to loves her, but he's too frail and ill to make the shoot. They ultimately dropped the iconic director idea and went with a uberfamous Japanese pop star. (I'm too lazy to look up his name.) But can you imagine? Romanek directing Fellini directing Madonna? The mind reels.

  2. After hearing Fiona Apple's "Criminal" (a song, by the way, that's about a woman feeling guilty for getting exactly what she wants via her sexuality), Romanek knew he wanted to do something (a) provocative and (b) that looked like a series of snap-shots brought to life. (Hence, Fiona often has that photographic red eye and, if you notice, everything is lit like a flash just went off in a dark room.) When Romanek heard the middle eastern sounding chamberlain riff at the end of the song, he knew he had to address that musical flourish with something visual. So he decided that, as it's an erotic piece, the video needed a visual orgasm. Thus, Fiona and the floating detergent.

  3. At Janet Jackson's request, Romanek was signed to do the Michael/Janet video for "Scream." To accommodate everyone's schedule, Romanek had only a few weeks to get everything designed and constructed and ready to go. When one of the executives at Sony saw the proposed budget, he called and cursed the director out. Romanek shot back that he'd been given so little time to get this executed and he was dealing with two megastars that wanted the video to be an event and besides, the video was set in space, on a spaceship, and "if Michael Jackson owned a spaceship, it'd be expensive." On the other end of the line, Romanek hears an emphatic, high-pitched "Yeah!" He hadn't realized that Michael had been on the call the entire time, silently listening. Romanek got his seven million dollar budget.


At 6:15 PM, Blogger Dashiell said...

man i love when the jacksons play space Jai Alai.


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