Keeping Up With the Kardashians was one of the first shows to resume production while in quarantine. But how KUWTK films in quarantine is more than complicated. In an interview with Elle, KUWTK executive producer Farnaz Farjam explained how the decision to film KUWTK in quarantine came to be and what fans can expect from next season. (Hint: There will be a lot of iPhone footage.)
After California, where KUWTK films, mandated stay-at-home orders on March 19, Farnaz called Kris Jenner, another executive producer on the show, to see if there was any way for the reality show to film while everyone is inside. Ideas like assigning each family member a producer and a live-in cameraman were thrown around before Kris suggested that the family film themselves.
Farnaz, who also revealed that the show considered not filming the season altogether, explained that each of the sisters—Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, Kendall and Kylie—have filmed the past two months on their iPhones. The family’s Zoom hangouts have also been recorded. Farnaz also revealed that the new season of KUWTK, which will air in September, will include two full episodes filmed completely in quarantine. However, the new format hasn’t been without its issues.
“If Kris gets annoyed and walks out of the camera angle, it’s not like we can follow her and continue shooting. She has to come back onto the screen and explain [why she walked away],” Farnaz told Elle. “It’s less fly-on-the-wall, because we have to give them direction and they have to be more informative with us… But because this is the Kardashians and they’re entertaining regardless, it will be a fun watch for people.”
At first, the producers had the Kardashian-Jenners use their personal cell phones to film and would upload the footage in a shared album. But when producers saw the low-quality of the videos, they decided to send the sisters equipment to at least film their confessionals with a high-production value from their own homes. 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,’”she said. “We needed to get them proper interview spaces [for confessionals].”
And so a director of photographer and a technician, who wore precautionary hazmat suits, were sent to the sisters’ homes where they set up iPhone-friendly tripods for the family to film themselves. Everything was wiped down with disinfectants and the cast had to wait 24 hours before they could enter the rooms when the equipment was all set up. “Sometimes you’ll hear them mumbling under their breath, ‘Who knew a camera person’s job would be so hard?!’” the executive producer said. “But, like, that’s funny. That’s gold. That’s stuff we want to include in the show.”
On Monday, a masked show runner gives each cast member’s security team a new iPhone and picks up the one they’ve used to film themselves throughout the week. There’s around 16 hours of footage each week, which will make up the episodes for next season. As expected, there are some members who are more likely to film themselves than others. A.k.a. Kourtney who’s had a rough time on the current season due to her feud with her sisters over her lack of desire to be on the reality series.
“Kourtney is very proud when her screen time is down,” the executive producer explained. “She’s trying to take a detox a little bit from her phone.”
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