all about Madonna

“Bedtime Storyboards” : Icon #18

Madonna - Icon / #18 1995

The next morning Mark was to meet with his production staff, so I dropped off the original drawings along with copies for Madonna and the producer at Propaganda Films. I was so exhausted that I felt like I was going to literally pass out right then and there. But I forgot all that when Mark told me that these were the best storyboards he had ever seen.

During the next three and a half months, Madonna’s Bedtime Stories album was released and her Secret and Take A Bow singles and videos were in heavy play rotation. Although I was busy working on my own paintings and various storyboarding jobs, I couldn’t wait to do some drawings on the Bedtime Story video set once film production finally got underway.

The day came on December 5th at Universal Studios where the video shoot was scheduled to begin. I knew this was going to be a big-time production, but when I arrived I was stunned by the grandiose futuristic/gothic sets and all the amazing props around the stage. The scale of this project was so massive, which explained the large crew of nearly 100 scurrying about the darkened set around cables, ladders, cameras, lighting equipment and make-shift offices. Instead of drawing, I spent the first hour just taking everything in, meeting the crew and checking out the scene. My storyboards were there on the set glued to giant blackboards with the schedule for each shot typed below each one. I noticed that a lot of the video ideas had evolved since August, but many of the themes remained true to the original boards. It’s always a trip for me to observe an intangible idea come to life using storyboards as the springboard. It’s like having a dream about a particular place or object and then actually seeking it materialize into reality.

As I meandered around the set I met up with Mark’s assistant, Matt, who said flatly, “We’re going to have an earthquake this week.” Hmmm. I also met Madonna’s assistant, Caresse, one of the most charming people you could ever hope to meet. Then from behind I could hear the clanking of metal walking towards me. It was the Validator, arriving in al her armored glory. Okay, actually it was Liz Rosenberg in her civilian clothes, with her little white puppy, Lola (aka Lola-dator), not to mention an occasional little “gem,” trailing behind her. She thanked me for making her look so thin in my Validator drawing in ICON. I showed her and Caresse the latest Castillo del Lago which they got a kick out because Caresse was a character in that particular cartoon.

Freddy DeMann was quietly walking around the set observing all the goings-on. Madonna’s brother, Christopher, was there too. He reminds me of his famous sister with his Italian good looks and wry sense of humor. We talked about painting; it turns out he’s had his own art shows in New York. I told him I was moving there in April and he gave me some good advice about the big city.

Shortly thereafter, Madonna arrived on the set with her entourage of hair stylists and wardrobe people. She was looking hot in her fake leopard jacket, black leather bra, flowing silk dress and high, high heels. Her white hair was twisting and coiling in every direction, like a giant cloud burst. “Grant!” she shrieked from across the set as soon as she saw me, waving her arms as she pushed her way through the crew. Everything went to slow motion at that point as she ran towards me with her arms outstretched, smiling from eat-to-ear, her springy hair bouncing and her jacket flailing behind her. She jumped into my arms and we spun around for what seemed like an eternity. (Okay, so she didn’t even notice me when she arrived, but she was a vision.)

It’s kind of strange to see someone famous in the flesh who you relate to and admire. You feel like you know them, but the catch is they don’t know you from Adam. It’s like a friend who gets amnesia and forgets your rapport, and you have to hold back and play it cool.