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'Until We Rise Again': Producing Your Way Out of a Problem



Paulus' Dahoon Chung on producing a music video in the age of Covid-19

'Until We Rise Again': Producing Your Way Out of a Problem

'Until We Rise Again' is a collaboration between the government of the Republic of Korea, 1Million Dance Studio, one of the best known dance and choreography studios in South Korea, the agency 2KG, and production company, Paulus. Here, Paulus discusses the project. 


One of the most important aspects of a project of this nature is the tone of the communication. The brief was simple: find a way to engage with the public on the issue of Covid-19 awareness in a way not seen before. Despite the fact that the pandemic is less than a year old, a lot of tropes have established themselves within the domain of Covid-19 communication, to the point of becoming cliches.

We wanted to make something unique and everyone involved was clear on the goal of the project. The idea was to convey an uplifting message designed to encourage folks to continue fighting against the pandemic both as individuals and as a nation, to remind us of what we took for granted before 2020, and to hope for a better future once the country and the world pulls itself out of this quagmire.


We had the regular variety of challenges associated with productions such as the budget, the time constraints, the locations, and so on but this project had a few unique aspects which made the entire journey especially memorable. Of course having noble intentions guide the message you want to deliver is very important but, as always, it is in the execution that success is ultimately determined.

From the outset, the principal challenge was bringing together two institutions that are, at least in their outlook, diametrically opposed to each other and getting them to agree on the execution. On one side is 1Million, a fiercely original collective of performers and creatives which is now nearing 22 million subscribers on YouTube. On the other side is a government which has come into the global spotlight for its exemplary handling of the Covid-19 crisis but is nonetheless formal and conventional in comparison. Getting these two parties to agree on a direction Paulus too was enthusiastic about remains one of the most rewarding aspects of the project for me as a producer.

The choice of using stylised PPE as costume for the performers was genuinely inspired but also a little unnerving at first because the last thing we wanted was to disrespect the enormous sacrifices and the tireless work of healthcare professionals in the country and elsewhere in the world. Then there was the question of taking off the mask which of course one is not meant to do in the presence of other people in the country’s public spaces. Wearing the mask is a necessity but it has also become synonymous with the pandemic and we could not afford any misinterpretation. The image of taking it off near the end of the video carries with it a sense of triumph and the opening up of future possibilities. I think that's why seeing the performers taking off the mask was an important inclusion.

Ultimately I think we succeeded in delivering the message we intended in the form and style we were happy with.


Having the Government of the country as the client opens up some interesting possibilities. For "Until We Rise Again" we were granted access to government buildings as filming locations. This is not just a rare privilege for production companies but it is also essential for a video of this nature. The architecture and the backdrops serve as reminders of Korean history, and connect the audience with the country’s present and its future trajectory. The locations therefore have a lot to do with the unique look and feel of the music video.

Access to such locations came with its own set of challenges. The entire video was filmed during the course of one day in order for the production to fit within the budget. We had to hop from one government building to another and COVID-19 guidelines mandated the buildings be closed down at very specific times. For the safety of the production crew and the talent it was paramount to meet the deadlines set under the new rules. Most of the production took place in the Korean National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art which had to close at 1 am. It was therefore essential to squeeze as much productivity out of each and every second we were there as we could. The cast of performers as well as the crew had to adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols while working together. The performers had to spend most of the day in full PPE. Luckily, everyone involved had baked the pandemic guidelines into their processes to such a degree that we were able to finish as expected and within the deadline.

1Million"s choreography and performance was exhilarating to watch live and the video feed coming into the monitor reassured me that the final product was going to look great. We had made the right calls all round.


Pre-production of 'Until We Rise Again' was a lengthy, drawn out process. A lot of going back and forth between Paulus, the government and 1Million, and plenty of long hours spent hashing out the details. Until the day of the dance rehearsal everything had been on paper and in our heads. Watching the dance rehearsal video and seeing everything we had imagined and much more was easily the most memorable moment of the production for me. The performance hit all the right notes and creatively expressed the frustration of distancing, the respect for all essential workers and the hope for a brighter future. It did all of that while looking fresh and cool. After seeing the rehearsal all the doubts and concerns about the possible reception of the video fell by the wayside.


That's easy. When trying to decide which song to use for a dance video, make sure that the song excites you even after you have listened to it more than a thousand times.

- Dahoon Chung, executive producer and managing director, Paulus, South Korea


Agency / Creative
Music / Sound
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Genres: Music performance

Categories: Music video, Short Films and Music Videos

Paulus, Wed, 14 Oct 2020 09:54:41 GMT