I’ve been really lucky in my professional career as a video producer to work with a variety of talent, but the most memorable are definitely K-Pop Idols. The first group I ever worked with was NCT 127, who introduced me to the wonderful world of Hallyu and who I lovingly now stan! Since then, I’ve worked with Monsta X, Day 6, GOT7, and SuperM.
After working with all these groups, I like to think I have a pretty good handle on running a K-Pop set. I’ve learned so much from these video shoots. Booking the crew and studios, communicating with the talent groups, and producing quality content are just the beginning of all that goes into a successful shoot. Staying on top of a fast paced environment has taught me valuable lessons I now apply to other areas of my work.
I can’t stress this enough! Most times, concepts and interview questions are approved over email by publicists. Sometimes they’re approved morning of the shoot. Other times they’re approved while talent is in the plane flying over from Seoul! Having approval beforehand saves a lot of time to get the ball rolling, but suddenly publicists will change their mind last minute on set! My advice? If you’re doing an interview, have extra questions ready. If you’re on a set that requires props, have extras!
Also make sure the video crew has tons of prepped and ready SD cards and batteries, and that whoever is in charge of audio has an extra mic!
Add Extra Time
Normally when idols do press junkets they have fully packed schedules morning to night! Running late is inevitable, especially in big cities like New York where traffic is common. On top of that, idols travel with HUGE entourages! Hair and make up artists, managers, and stylists are just the beginning. There are also publicists and PR, translators, their own set of photographer/videographer, and security! Corporate buildings all have security sign-in, so be sure to add an extra 30 minutes to your time. Plus, only so many elevators are usually available, so it’s good to account for check-in and possible traffic delays!
Oh, and there’s a big chance they’ll be followed by fans and fan sites. This can majorly slow down entry into buildings too.
Some groups who have traveled around the US before now have smart systems where their teams arrive beforehand to set up. Another time-saving tip is to give building security a heads up. Know the talent’s names, help them check-in, and escort them to the designated studio. It’s not only helpful for a seamless start to your shoot/interview, but it’s considerate to be helpful and inviting!
Have Extra Space
It’s pretty common for a standard idol group of seven members to travel with an entourage of 20+ people! To ensure less distractions and noise on set, have extra space ready. Reserve a green room and be sure to clean it, have ample seating, and set out refreshments. Make sure to have tables, mirrors, and outlets for the hair and makeup stylists.
My biggest tip is to make sure there are extra seats! Picture a video set. You have the cyc (where talent stands/sits), surrounded by lights, and cameras set up facing it. The producer/director stands next to the cameras directing. I like to set about a dozen chairs behind the cameras, facing the cyc. If talent is on camera one-by-one, they’re close by to jump right in when needed. It’s also considerate for the makeup artist who needs to do frequent touch ups, their translator, and managers to sit while observing.
Snacks on Snacks on Snacks
Maybe it’s because of my Persian culture that I’m so big on hospitality, but I consider anyone coming to my workplace like a guest coming to my home. So I’ve always been considerate when it comes to checking what snacks or refreshments talent like beforehand. With K-Pop idols it’s a lot of Diet Coke and iced Americanos from Starbucks, haha! Remember, they’re bouncing around from interview to interview so have plentyyy of snacks for them! I like to put out fresh fruit, chips and guac, and all kinds of assorted chips, cookies, and sweets. When it’s a morning shoot, bagels are a must!
If your interview falls during lunch hours, they may ask you to provide. Make sure to have the catering handled beforehand! (PS- they love Chipotle!)
Remember, Idols are People Too
Artists are human first, idol second. (They just happen to have the best skin ever!) When they’re comfortable you can tell! They’ll stay on set (as opposed to the green room) and may even ask you (crew) direct questions. Similar to all of us millennials and Gen Z-ers they’re usually chillin’, scrolling on their phones, joking around, or snacking! If they’re very tired after hectic schedules, they might nap.
The first time I worked with K-pop idols, I was—as stans say—a local. As such, I approached them as I would any other talent, with my genuinely friendly hospitality. They were very comfortable and it was after the fact I realized it’s because I treated them as humans. Think about it. Idols are mostly exposed to mega fans, it’s probably not often outside of their entourage they do a lot of small talk. Even though I’m now a fan, I maintain my composure in front of talent to ensure their comfort above everything.
If you’re a journalist or producer planning to work with any K-pop idols, be sure to bookmark this post for future reference!