Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna's 20 Greatest Music Videos

The directors who worked alongside the MTV-era maverick tell their stories

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19. "Fever" (1993)

"The idea came that I wanted, basically, to burn her," says director Stéphane Sednaoui. "My concept was that she was kind of Joan of Arc. I wanted her like a provocative saint, somebody that speaks out and tells the truth, and is ready to burn for it. I remember the big boss at Maverick — [Madonna] was the big boss, but she had somebody else with her — was really worried that I would burn her. He thought it was a very negative image for her." While Madonna doesn't catch on fire in the clip ("she was more like…incandescent?" says Sednaoui), after a two-day shoot in Miami, she was run through a gauntlet of hallucinogenic, high-contrast post-production from the eye-searing director of the Chili Peppers' "Give it Away" and U2's "Mysterious Ways." The clip — full of dizzying zooms — bursts with color, from her red wig, to her gold dress, to getting her entire body painted silver.

Stéphane Sednaoui, director: It was the first time she filmed, I think, in front of a blue screen. We spent the entire day. She can be like, "OK, you know what I'm leaving at 7 and that's it." But she didn't pressure me at all; she was like, "Oh my God, he's so young and so full of energy." So, she was very, very sweet with me. 

I do like the silver image of her. I think she wanted to do something very "clubbing," the mix was very "clubbing." I used to work a lot for The Face magazine and I have this image of being a very "pop culture" artist. And I think they thought, "OK, Stéphane would be perfect to do something that is not the Madonna we know, but another kind of Madonna; more pop, more disco, more club." So, I think that's why she went all the way, like, "OK, let's paint."

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