(Watch America, We Stand as One, here Courtesty of YouTube)
I first contacted Dennis the first week of July 2006 after watching his America, We Stand As One video, we had a wonderful discussion about his music video, and his stunt career.
As most of you who read my blog, listened to my shows, or watched my videos know, I have always been a Star Trek fan, and was very excited when I learned he has been in so many Star Trek Episodes. But this took a backseat today to the music video, and Dennis’s true feelings about it.
I cannot describe the interview with Dennis as anything other than magical. He is truly a man of great convictions and of course his word. We spoke via prior arrangement this evening for over and hour and a half about his video, how it made him, others, and I feel – read the interview for details!
-“Kids really love the video, they sing it all the time, I get these wonderful emails from parents saying they have to see it before they go to bed each night! And thats really special”- Dennis Madalone
I find this video extremely touching, to me, both because I am an American living abroad, but also because I understand what it is like to go out on your own with an idea and show people something that you know will have a mixed reception. It certainly takes something that Dennis is not short of. Courage.
Dennis and I chatted throughout the interview like old friends, and that is how he made me feel when we spoke from the very beginning! I truly regard Dennis as a friend now, and I didn’t do this just for an interview, or for the blog, but because I believe with all my heart that there is definitely something in what Dennis is trying his best to do, and I would love to be a part of it, and hopefully with this interview and entry, I am. I hope that by reading this interview you feel part of it as well, because in Dennis’s words, “This is for everyone, 100 years from now, a 1000 years from now”
SebRT.com welcomes DENNIS MADALONE! Hollywood stuntman turned stunt- coordinator – Now an international inspirational vocalist / philanthropist for his work on America – We Stand as One. – America We Stand as One is the most downloaded music video of all time (2006)
Hello Dennis! Thank you for joining me.
Hi! – I hope everyone is well out there in England!
First off I would like to thank you for being so kind to me when I first contacted you about your music video and your work.
It’s my pleasure, and honor to talk to you.
Your message is so clear in America – We Stand as One, and it certainly hits hard for this American living abroad, even though was not directly affected by the events of September 11th ….Was your reaction and subsequent song a result of how you felt after September 11th?
I was working on a song two months prior to 9-11. The song was about “Words from our loved ones” – The words were them singing to us, not as usual the people singing to those who have already passed.-
People did not understand it. They didn’t get it. Then suddenly 9-11 happened. I picked up my guitar, that Friday it was the national day of prayer. I started playing my guitar with my German Shepherd beside me – I started to write, the song came out of no where, What I can only call a gif from our loved ones. I knew that I had to go to the studio and record the song. It all merged together at that point and we knew that when the song came out it would be a story forever.
I put my dog’s name and a paw print on the DVD-Slip cover of America We Stand As One.
Was there a style that you wanted to emulate?
No, not at all. I can’t play anyone, I don’t know their songs. I only know my own. I love all the artists out there, the Beatles, the Monkees..etc They were certainly inspiration though to forward with this, but this was totally original.
The song may be so original because it is totally from my (our) heart(s). America, We Stand as One, is a beautiful message, but it was so neat that it is so fresh. It is more of an American anthem for the world! We are really proud of that!
It just came, almost out of nowhere. I didn’t have to write it down – eventually [you] do write it down for when it is time to record, of course. It is something that you just don’t forget.
Nine months after I wrote the song, we started getting feelings of children, the ocean / beach, and angles in the sky, loves ones in the Sky…lights of energy. I contacted a director I knew and he said “Let’s go and shoot it!”
How long did it take you to produce the video from inception to publication?
We took two years. I took my time because as each month would go by we would go shoot – the various scenes-. If I didn’t take my time we would not have got something that was so real. I wanted to stay true to the words and make sure that whatever came out that it was coming from our hearts. No one was telling us what to do and we ended up with this song. By honoring this song, we will never take any money from it and it always has to be a gift.
ROB BOWMAN directed America We Stand As One. As a Star Trek fan I recognize his name from the directing credits on Star Trek TNG, did this have something to do with your choosing him to direct your video?
Absolutely! He brought me onto Star Trek, and I worked on Where No One Has Gone Before. (The crewman who had to put out the fire with his mind, under the encouragement of Captain Picard)
Rob Bowman went off after doing Star Trek, and he did a lot of TV and features. But I stayed with Star Trek for 14 years. I know his father very well; his father introduced me to him when he was a senior in High School.
Rob added a lot of beautiful backlit stuff, which is his style and it all tied in to the magic.
The editing process of the music video is extremely well executed! Who edited the video? I noticed that even the cuts go with the beat of the music. Incredible!
Yeah. She (Elisa Llanido, Editor) was amazing; I did a cut that was just long shots that lasted 15 or 20 seconds. She was unbelievable, within three days.. She put a heartbeat on the song. It took a year for us to put together all the effects. Took time to do the Flag, Mount Rushmore….etc
Rob Bowman said she was an unbelievable editor, one of the best he had ever seen or worked with. She was amazing, like I said, put a heartbeat to it.
We shot the film on D9 video, very strong, almost like film. I really liked it. The cameraman (dp) who shot it was Tip McTartland, he was amazing, and his camera was amazing. He was shocked, and excited. In his words, it was the greatest video in the history of the world.
We were inspired by the words of the song, and knew that someday we were going to finish it. We knew that it wasn’t business, it wasn’t for money, it was – a mission. I believed the song was going to go to where it was meant to go, to the families and children, both affected by September 11th and other tragedies.
We put the song on the internet April of last year, with no publicity.
I woke up three days later, and my wife told me about a dream that she had had that was the DVD flying around the world. I was like, what does that mean?
Does that mean we are going to get to Europe? Little did I know what had occurred.
I went to lunch with a friend and I gave him the first DVD and he grabbed it and took it to Paul McCartney, and Paul really liked it.
I came home and there were 7000 hits on the website! I had just put it up, I thought it had to be wrong – I called my ISP and they told me it was true, the numbers were accurate and that it was just counting up constantly. America We Stand as One dot com took down their servers, and they had to send me to a separate server that would handle mine and we shut that one down too!
We had to keep upgrading to keep up with the demand for the video. We finally found one that could handle the surge. It was crazy!!
I was very excited that people would download it, and put it on their site. We think our video is on thousands of sites worldwide. We do know that it is happening and that it keeps going and going everyday.
My wife had that premonition, it was amazing for us, that she could say something like that and it happened within 24 hours or less! We knew that it was beautiful and it would and had been embraced.
I just want to go back to your feelings about the video and its reception by the public. In my research before this interview I found that a lot of bloggers and journalists have simply picked and kicked at the production, non-intelligently, I might add.
I think that when they see something this true and pure, words that mean so much, and people that are caring and giving, it is hard to believe. They think there is a gimmick to it and that there is a catch, but there is no catch it’s not a gimmick – When they are all alone, they hear the truth, and they are able to embrace it, and not kid around anymore.
All those people who are kidding around have loved ones too; this is about all our loved ones. This is about them too.
This must of course be hurtful to you and your colleagues. I came across an email that you had written to the people who support the parody of your music video with involves the dubbing of swear words on the original vocals.
We were trying to be as nice as possible. I believe that they got carried away, but I am not a suing man. It was damaging to see our hard work get” parodied” or “spoofed” and they were really good when I contacted them. They apologized and removed it. At that point it was kind of too late; the video that they had made had made it out to the internet.
When you’re out there and doing something, you are going to be a target for people to mess around with the footage. I am sure they were just trying to get some attention, and have some fun but we know that ours is a true message of kindness, has and will prevail. Anything negative will fade away.
Obviously, this parody was upsetting. Is there anything further you can add or wish to say to the people who damaged your serious piece?
I spoke to the director when it was published. They apologized. I got what I needed.
We all learn as we go on in life to be better, and do better things. We all just learn to be nicer and nicer. We all go through mistakes, we learn later in life to be better people.
Do you think this anthem will still be playing in 100 years?
I believe that it will be around for longer than that. Just like the old black and white films that people still watch today. I believe our song is a special and rare thing. I know that it has gotten to and comforted many people. It will be around for a long time after I pass away. 100 years or 1000 years from now, it will always be a message from our loved ones. It will surge until it reaches every one on its own. Everyday! Someone clicks on the song and it’s a new thing!
Do you have any plans for the future you would like to share at this time?
Just that I am looking for something special. To be a famous stuntman? No. To make money? No. This song is an amazing eye-opener.
We are all here to do something special. Help someone to cross the street. I am looking forward to doing something else…
My wife is pushing me with my other songs, to get them out. No one has heard them but her. America We Stand as One has to reach everyone first. There will be a time that I can sit down and smile and say “let’s release more beautiful songs..” “This song has made it..”
This song stands as one, making it around the world. I am staying away from doing an album, staying away from a record deal.
We completed our mission and now the wings of love are carrying it around the world. If there’s a flag when I see the song, I see the world, not just the USA.
Thank you to everyone – I hope everyone in the world embraces this song. It truly is for all, and to feel their loved ones in. The word thank you is not in my mind right now, I am thankful for our song – I am thankful for the song, that it came, and I am thankful that everyone has embraced it.
We I would really like to thank you for your time Dennis! You are most welcome to come back at anytime!
Thank you! And I can’t wait to read the blog entry when it is up! Good Night!
If you want to learn more about Dennis Madalone and America, We Stand As One, why not visit the official website of the video. AmericaWeStandAsOne.com – And when you do, drop Dennis a line and let him know what you think of song, and if you feel compelled like I did to contact him, the correct ways of doing just that are also on the website!
Thank you to Salon Magazine for using this article/interview in their discussion about, Dennis, and America, We Stand as One.