There are lots of things to be worried about right now, but one thing that's crossed the mind of every TV-loving self-isolated person in the past few months is whether or not their favorite shows will be back up and running in time for fall television. As it is, we already had many shows shutdown before they could finish (or even start) filming the finale that was planned for the 2019-2020 season, so not having our shows ready to go in a few months is going to be a blow. Luckily, fans of Keeping Up with the Kardashians have no need to worry, because the reality series has figured out how to film during quarantine.
After filming on the show had to be cut short for a time as shelter in place orders went into effect in California, Keeping Up with the Kardashians is slated to return in September. Fans only got six episodes into Season 18 before being left with a bit of a quarantine cliffhanger, but now production on the show is going at full speed again, though it did take some creative problem solving to get there.
Longtime KUWTK executive producer Farnaz Farjam recently spoke with Elle Magazine about how they were able to start filming again, and what the process has been like to get all the necessary footage and storylines to make a compelling reality show. It turns out that it was way more involved than you might imagine. After the shutdown, Farjam offered some ideas to momager supreme Kris Jenner, who suggested they all just film themselves with their phones, to which Farjam eventually agreed. Unfortunately, there was a slight hiccup that had to be overcome once she and her team started to see those videos:
But as we [saw it come in], I was like, ‘Oh, people are going to get sick of seeing this [poor quality] footage like this. We needed to get them proper interview spaces [for confessionals].
Oh, yeah. While the Kardashian / Jenner clan have had some raw moments on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, they are mostly a very gloriously coiffed and made-up bunch, with the cameras and lighting of a typical episode being just right for making them look sorta glamorous even if they're in the middle of an ugly cry or a sisterly beat down. As anyone who's watched late night TV in the past several weeks will know, though, this is an era of janky looking television, and Farnaz Farjam was probably correct in thinking that something would have to be done to up the show's quarantine filming game.
So, they got to work. Farjam hired a director of photography and technician just for the quarantine footage, who went to the homes of each family member to construct specially lit areas just for confessional videos and set up phone-friendly tripods to help them capture said videos. According to Farjam, that team actually wore hazmat suits while in the homes, and cleaned all equipment with antibacterial wipes before leaving. Then, cast members had to wait at least 24 hours before using those rooms and their new electronics.
And, it doesn't end there. Lest you think that the family simply uploads their video to some secure KUWTK server, Farnaz Farjam says that each Monday sees a showrunner leave a brand new iPhone with the security team of each cast member and picks up the one used in the previous week. She notes that they generally get around 16 hours of footage from each person, and it's been enough to begin to craft storylines for when the show returns in the fall, even though some are better at remembering to film than others.
According to Farjam, fans can expect to at least two full episodes of the self-filmed footage, and it'll probably include some general hilarity as the cast gets used to their equipment and the fact that there's no one following them with a camera, and for us to see Kim Kardashian West struggle with the demands of homeschooling and parenting four kids:
I'm really excited for people to see Kim having to juggle everything on her own, especially early on, when it was so, so scary. Now people have been quarantining for a long time and have trusted people in their lives to help them out, but in the beginning they didn't have that. Watching Kim juggle four kids will be really relatable. No matter how big her house is, four kids is four kids. It's a lot.