The new, hotly anticipated video for “Problem”—the Ariana Grande track featuring Iggy Azalea, which just might become the song of the summer—has a Canadian connection: producer Alyssa Pankiw and director Nev Todorovic, of interactive media company The Young Astronauts, are from Toronto. We asked them to spill a few secrets from the set.
Where did you shoot the video? Nev: In West Hollywood on a soundstage called The Lot Studios. It’s the same place where HBO’s True Blood is shot, so that was happening in the stages all around us.
How long did the shoot take? Alyssa: One day, as is the case for most music videos, but with set up and tear down it was close to 17 hours.
More: Watch the “Problem” teaser
How many people were on set? Alyssa: We had the three artists [Ariana, Iggy, and surprise guest Big Sean], their glam teams, label reps, management, twelve dancers, and then a full production team and crew. In total I think we were sitting at about 80 people at the height of the day.
What food was the craft truck serving up? Alyssa: Oh man, everything you could possibly dream of… It’s always one of the best parts of any set.
What was the mood like? Alyssa: Ariana is really funny, especially when she’s around all of her dancers. She has a musical theatre background, so she was singing old-timey, Broadway versions of her songs on set and doing a bunch of impressions. Nev: She’ll also serenade crew members sometimes and their reactions are pretty priceless because they don’t necessarily know what to do.
Did Iggy or Ariana have friends drop by? Nev: Well, Big Sean wasn’t actually going to be able to be in the video, but then he dropped by to say hello, and everyone convinced him that he should just hop in front of the camera, so that was great.
What was the hair and makeup inspo? Alyssa: Everything was very mod, very 1960s. One of the inspirations was Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking.”
Did Ariana bring her dog? Nev: There weren’t any dogs on set! Totally disappointing. But we did get to meet Ophelia [Ariana’s dog] on the “Right There” set when she was just a tiny puppy last year.
What was the most exciting part of the shoot? Alyssa: The single was climbing like crazy the day we shot, so it was nuts because someone would check their phone every once in a while and be like, “It’s #1 in another country,” so that made for a really great atmosphere on set, but also a bit of a stressful one because we were like, “Everyone on EARTH is gonna see this video!”
Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande
Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande perform onstage during the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.