THIS IS PART 2 OF A 2 PART INTERVIEW: Previously on Behind The Video , filmmaker Dwight Patillo recalled how he came to meet Dr. Dre and work on one of the most iconic music videos of the ’90s, Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang.” Teamed with production partners Ben Bazmore and Al Stewart at Nu Vue Films, Patillo worked on all of the music videos from Dre’s landmark LP, The Chronic , even directing the controversial, cameo-heavy “lost” clip for “Lil’ Ghetto Boy.” Here, in Part 2 of our interview, Dwight discusses prison riots, funeral shootouts, and wrecked campers, meeting 2Pac, and Nu Vue’s last days on Death Row. The muthafuckin’ saga continues…
Coming off the success of “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” what was the biggest challenge facing you guys making “Dre Day” and “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” – both of which were actually shot over the same weekend?
Dwight Patillo: After “’G’ Thang” we were still in a struggle at that point. Nobody was ever on time. [For whatever reason] it was so important for up and coming hip-hop artists to not be around when they were supposed to be! So it was real difficult to get through the production, but we did. That was our main thing – making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be at the right time. And having enough stuff to shoot if they weren’t around to at least get through the video.
[With the “Dre Day” video] Dre was very, very pissed at Eazy-E at that time. It was the middle of the fray and this was the first [shot fired] after everything that had culminated through the N.W.A era, the Jerry Heller situation, and all of that. This was his first public visual blast of how he was feeling at that time. [Comedian] AJ Johnson was [cast to clown] Eazy-E. He caught a lot of flack from the [Ruthless camp] because he did that. The next time he saw us [after the video came out] he was basically saying, “I can’t hang out no more. I’m friends with those guys, and I’m friends with Dre, so I don’t know what to do.” But I don’t think it was too seriously threatening.
You mentioned in Part 1 of our interview , that you had issues with “‘G’ Thang” as far as having to blur marijuana-related images. But “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” is on a whole other level with guns and violence. Where was it possible for this video to be aired at the time? And what was the struggle like to get it out there?
Dwight Patillo: Well, that was the battle brewing between the power of Death Row and the power of MTV – and [Interscope Records’] Jimmy Iovine in the middle of it. So what Suge [Knight] pushed for was to make it as hard and as ghetto [as possible] because that makes [the label’s reputation] bigger. You know – the harder the hood, the bigger they are. And so he kind of went [extreme] on the violence end of it. I really didn’t want to take it that far. But what ended up happening was MTV banned it. They said, “No guns, period. We can’t do it.” So it ended up going to [pay per view video request channel] The Box. And shortly after that The Box [banned it]. And it was just too hot to be released at that point. So it became this little ghetto secret kinda video. Its [banning] caused it to have a longer shelf life now. Back then we were so busy, we had moved on to the next video and all that. There was supposed to be a re-edit. I don’t know if it was [the result of just being] stubborn, or not wanting to spend more money, or what, but we never did the re-edit. Which was a huge hit for me. That would have been my directorial debut and it would have aired everywhere. But because it was so violent it just didn’t quite work out.
Unlike Dre’s performance and slice-of-life based videos that preceded it, “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” presents a pretty serious narrative.
Dwight Patillo: We wanted to [dramatize] a crew rolling on the street, and the stuff that they were into before one of ‘em ended up in jail. It’s like a cycle. We start off in jail where we see [the main character] go through his thing and die, and then another guy starts the cycle all over again.
Dre and Snoop, though, only appear as these floating heads superimposed over the action as it unfolds. Was it planned that way?
Dwight Patillo: That was an intricate little thing that we wanted to do, but we didn’t get exactly what we wanted. What I was looking for was the feel of [Dre and Snoop] coming out of the background to the foreground – like how things in the ghetto will take you from the foreground to the background. As the heads come closer the color was supposed to drain out of the rest of the picture. But this being my first video, we shot it the wrong way to be able to drain the color how I envisioned it. So we just said forget it, let’s leave ‘em black and white. People say it’s eerie and ghostlike. It was a very dark video, which was kind of pushed into being made darker through suggestions [from Death Row]. [ laughs ]
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