Krista Carnegie takes Seb Powell behind the scenes to explain how, despite the pandemic and a last-minute venue change, Marshmello still pulled out a great performance
“It taught us to always expect the unexpected,” says Krista Carnegie, COO of entertainment and management company The Shalizi Group, reflecting on the realisation last November that Marshmello’s opening ceremony performance would have to switch from live to digital. “He knew he wasn't going to be able to make it out there due to Covid, but he wanted people to feel like he was still there – doing these things with the stadium that no one else could possibly do in physical form.”
Then another twist: the news, just over two weeks before kick-off, that the final was being moved to Porto. “We had sent a team to Istanbul; we got the measurements of the stadium down to the seat numbers. Everything was so detailed. When we got the call that it was possibly being switched we were just like, ‘This was never an option!’ And so, within 48 hours and some real hard thinking, they figured out how they could switch X amount of shots to make it look like we were in Portugal. It was a 24-hour team.”
Marshmello, says Carnegie (pictured above), was “in it all the way”. “Every piece of it is run by him. From the moment we thought we were doing this show in Turkey in 2020, he was involved in what the design would have looked like on the pitch to the songs that he wanted to play. When we needed to pivot he was even more involved in that process, knowing how important it was.”
Filming the blue-screen treadmill sequences in the Mello helmet was a unique challenge. “Our tour manager sourced the biggest treadmill I've ever seen in my entire life to make him feel more comfortable; it probably could have fit 15 people,” explains Carnegie. “During the pandemic, a lot of artists and award shows have been using xR [extended reality] to create these other worlds, but they have never used it to create a physical space. For us, that was a big thing. We used a lot of live elements.
“We wanted real people, we wanted real drummers, we wanted real dancers. We even had real water. We had two to three days of rehearsals where he learned with the dancers – things like gravity and spacing and timing. And then it was four days of shooting. The last day was fun, because including water on the blue screen was something no one had ever done. Because water can reflect the lighting everyone was absolutely terrified of what it would look like on camera. But I think the end result ended up being everyone's favourite bit.”
Best of all was finally being able to kick back and enjoy the show. “Everyone was smiling and cheering. Marshmello was wearing his Chelsea jersey – it was great. It was a long journey but If I had to pick one moment, it was being able to be with the people who we made the show with and just see it. The scariest part was giving it to everyone – the music fans, the football fans – and just seeing if they would like it. The reaction was absolutely amazing.”