How Producers Captured Elton John’s U.S. Farewell

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Elton John bid the U.S. adieu on Sunday night (Nov. 20), but not before going out in style and giving fans a night to remember on his last U.S. stop on his final world tour. That night at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium was broadcast as a livestream via Disney+, so audiences around the world could get a feel for the magic. However, capturing the live show, titled Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium, was no easy feat.

Directed by Paul Dugdale and produced by Fulwell 73 Prods. and Rocket Entertainment, the farewell event was headed by producer and Fulwell 73 partner, Ben Winston. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Winston discussed the night in detail, talking the vision for and logistics of the big night.

“We first wanted to do a little pre-show before the concert starts because when you show music on television without context, I think that people don’t get as much out of it without hearing about the significance,” Winston explained of their approach ahead of taking the stage.

He continued, “Before Elton goes on stage, we’re doing a sort of 20-minute pre-show that will be a live show but with quite a lot of taped bits, covering the significance of the Dodger Stadium and the fact that he performed such a big show there in 1975, a show that became iconic in part because of Terry O’Neill’s unbelievable photograph and also because of where Elton was in his career at that moment. In our interview, he talked about how unhappy he was in 1975 and how happy he is today. That is a significant storyline of the night.”

The significant storyline was met with a sizable scope of production in order to capture such a momentous occasion for the singer and his enduring legacy. Sunday night’s shoot included 28 cameras, Winston told the publication.

The team also brought in the big guns, equipping a helicopter to capture the moment.

“We had a chopper shooting from above to get some great shots of Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles landscape,” he continued. “We had a couple of drones flying around which always give us some amazing and beautiful shots and iconic imagery. We had a really clever camera plan to give people at home the best view you can have while not disrupting the show for the thousands of people that are in the venue, all done in time for us to explode some fireworks before the L.A. police impose the noise curfew.”

The crew were working with dozens of cameras, heavy duty video equipment, and pulling off various aerial feats, all while live and attempting to keep to a strict noise ordinance. However stressful, in the end, it was all worth it.

“It’s a phenomenal thing to be working on a show like this with Elton John,” the producer gushed. “Especially as someone who grew up listening to his music, everywhere from the school disco to concerts that you queue up and get tickets for to dancing at my wedding to an Elton John track all the way to seeing my kids loving The Lion King. Let alone the fact that it’s his last-ever show in America. Personally, it’s a real pinch yourself moment when you get to work with your heroes.”

Photo by Theo Wargo / Getty Images

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