New Docudrama Chronicles An Emerging Queen of Pop
Madonna and the Breakfast Club is a new docudrama that chronicles a pre-fame Madonna before she became the reigning queen of pop. Written and directed by Guy Guido, the film explores Madonna’s days as a drummer, guitarist, keyboard player and songwriter in the Breakfast Club, a band she formed with Dan Gilroy in the late ’70s. In addition to an intimate relationship, Madonna and Gilroy shared a deep friendship. Later in life, in her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, Madonna would thank only a few people by name; Gilroy being one of them.
Madonna and the Breakfast Club includes interviews with several former band mates and other people that were a part of Madonna’s life during this time period. The film also features never before seen or heard music and audio recordings, photographs, and letters, as well as a powerful performance by actress Jamie Auld, playing a young Madonna.
We spoke with director Guy Guido from his home in New York.
Why are 80’s icons such a popular subject for documentary films today?
Guy: With social media today, even the biggest celebrities have their personal lives and journeys blasted all over the internet, either by media sources or by the celebrities themselves. It’s hard to believe there was a time that we didn’t know what our favorite celebrity did on a day-to-day or hourly basis. Documentary films like Madonna and the Breakfast Club reveal a different side of the icons lives and personalities that might not be known.
What inspired you to create Madonna and The Breakfast Club?
Guy: I am one of those people that is fascinated by the making of anything of cultural value, like a classic film, a painting, or the career of a celebrity icon. I love to know the history; the origin. I am a fan of Madonna now, but as an adolescent, I was a huge fan. She was the soundtrack to my teenage life. I always wondered who she was when she wasn’t dancing in a music video or being interviewed on a talk show. Who she was before her first record deal was an even bigger mystery! As I started to look deeper into her early life, I learned that it was in Corona, Queens, at an abandoned synagogue, that she first began her journey into music. Dan Gilroy, her boyfriend, was the catalyst into her first performances. They formed a band called “Breakfast Club” which also included Dan’s brother Ed, and their childhood friend Gary Burke.
Why did you choose to present the film as a documentary?
Guy: There are certain structural story telling rules in a narrative film that an audience expects in order to be satisfied and stay along for the ride. In general, you have to tell it through the eyes of one person, your main protagonist. It is their journey. The story in Madonna and the Breakfast Club is too spread out to really tell it from one person’s point of view. Also, there are so many historical and factual things that I wanted to exhibit and share: the real locations Madonna lived in, the actual instruments she learned music and wrote her first songs on, the never before seen photos and music. In a narrative film you can’t say, “this is the actual guitar Madonna wrote her first song on” and I think the audience will appreciate the chance to see and hear those things. The documentary genre was a better fit.
How did you connect with Dan Gilroy and the other band members?
Guy: I sought Dan out through social media and approached him about the idea. His initial response was no. It took me a while before I was able to convince him that my intentions were not tabloid. That my motivations were based on my own admiration of Madonna and the band’s history and that I would respect everyone involved and tell the story in a truthful way. Once I had Dan’s trust, I was able to move forward and reach out to the other band members.
What went into transforming actress Jamie Auld into young Madonna?
Guy: I discovered Jamie working at a donut store in Chelsea, NYC. The first thing I noticed was her very unique profile: the small, down slanted nose with finely etched out nostrils. Then she turned and I saw that she also had these gorgeous, cat-like, blue/green eyes! She had all of the basics that I knew would work in transforming her into what Madonna looked like at 20 years old.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the transformation?
Guy: The shape of her lips. Madonna had smaller, very heart shaped lips and Jamie’s are a bit fuller, so I had to reshape them by first erasing her natural lip with a skin toned makeup and then recreating them with a long lasting lip liner pencil. Also, Jamie doesn’t have the gap between her teeth that Madonna does. For the film, I used a theatrical paint to painstakingly create the perfect sized gap illusion. It had to be done multiple times throughout each shoot day because it didn’t last more than a couple of hours.
Where did you develop your skill for transforming people into icons?
Guy: Before attending film school, my first career was in hair and makeup. I did have makeup help on set, but when it came to Jamie, I was the only person I trusted to create the exact look that I wanted. I think because I was such a fan of Madonna’s as a kid, her face is etched in my brain to the point where I didn’t have to look at photographs. I could just beat her face by memory.
What do you hope fans learn from this documentary that they didn’t already know about Madonna?
Guy: I hope that fans will see that Madonna is a human being, who was once a vulnerable young girl living in NY with no real industry contacts and no money. She was not some lucky girl, in the right place at the right time or someone who used her sexuality to get a record deal. She was an extremely hard working artist who studied dance, music, played guitar and drums – damn well as you will hear in the film – and honed her craft at songwriting for years. She pounded the pavement day in and day out. The eighties were a time where you couldn’t get “followers” or “likes” by posting photos or songs online. You couldn’t email potential industry contacts. You had to call people and hope they answered because there was no voicemail. You had to hang flyers on windows and telephone poles if you wanted anyone to know about you or your band’s gig. Yes, Madonna knew what she wanted, but she didn’t get anything handed to her. She treated her goals with life or death urgency and determination.
Madonna and The Breakfast Club will be released across digital and on demand platforms on March 12th by The Orchard. Visit https://madonnaandthebreakfastclub.com
By Brandon DeLuca