Starting with the very first season of The Bachelorette, starring Trista, Ken Fuchs has been the director behind every episode of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchises. For 34 straight seasons, he’s brought viewers limo entrances, rose ceremonies, fantasy suites, and proposals. EW caught up with him to discuss his experience behind the camera.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How has the process of filming night one changed over the years?
KEN FUCHS: One of the beauties of the franchise is the familiarity. There’s a visual language that we established early on with the show that we tend to stick with and repeat. What has changed is on the producing end — we’ve come up with new ways of guys coming out of the limo and maybe some new ways of having them talk to each other that first night at the cocktail party.
Has Chris Harrison ever needed a second take on “This is the final rose tonight.”
Never. We don’t do multiple takes. We don’t stop and cut and do it again. We never want to interrupt especially something like the rose ceremony which, to feel to the people in the room, needs to feel completely alive and authentic and real. If we were to interrupt it with the television machinations, it might take them out of the moment.
What’s been the most challenging thing to film?
Every shoot is very different. We’ve been on tropical locations where we deal with weather. We were in Peru for Arie’s finale where we had to deal with altitude. There’s certain things you don’t see on camera that can really affect the nuts and bolts of the production. One that stands out is the finale for Rachel, which was in Northern Spain. We were in this beautiful fortress on top of a mountain, and the wind kicked up. Poor girl was dealing with some very intense wind. That was a real challenge, that proposal.
Is there a moment you’re most proud of getting on camera?
Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that you don’t know is going to happen. I really rely greatly on my crews, but especially camera and audio, where things can happen — and we hope they happen — spontaneously all the time. And then there are other moments that are preplanned and big and spectacular. My favorite probably is the weddings that we’ve gotten to do, going all the way back to Trista and Ryan, which was just spectacular. It was one of the biggest things we’ve ever done with the most viewers. That was the holy grail of Bachelor directing because it was so big and it was so fantastic.
What’s the process of shooting a fantasy suite date?
What we try to do is tell the best story, make the best show, provide the viewers with great entertainment and at the same time, respect their privacy, and, at that point, respect their ability to be together and be alone off-camera really for the first time probably. It’s more logical than you would think. It’s a matter of decency but also just doing our jobs.
What’s been your favorite proposal?
I love all the proposals. I still to this day get choked up directing the proposals because it’s such an honest, real moment. It’s a culmination of this incredible journey that these two have taken. Rachel’s was really quite sweet. I loved Sean and Catherine’s in Thailand, and they went off on the elephant.
What’s the key to a good reality TV moment?
That the production is such a well-oiled machine that you don’t see it, you’re not aware of it. It’s really important that the cast not be on a TV show but rather just having a drink or having dinner. That lends to the authenticity. That gets back to what I think is the success of The Bachelor, which is is that it’s not overly manipulated, and it’s not overly produced; it rings true to the viewers, so when they watch, they feel that this is actually happening. Unsuccessful reality shows feel overly manipulated and overly contrived, and it just doesn’t ring true. That’s one thing that does separate us from other dating shows.