13 behind the secrets of how Squid Game: The Challenge creators made it so dramatic
Each episode cost over $1million to make
As more episodes of Squid Game: The Challenge get dropped on Netflix, we’re all collectively taking a deep breath as we prepare to keep up with the drama. I’m not sure any of us were truly expecting the show to be as intense as it’s ended up being. So, it should come as no surprise that there are a whole bunch of behind the scenes secrets as to how Netflix made Squid Game: The Challenge as wild as it is.
From how they created the shooting effect, to the environment that forced the players to live in an intense, real-feeling games, the producers of the show covered all bases.
Here’s a rundown of all the biggest behind the scenes secrets that made Squid Game: The Challenge as dramatic as it is.
The ‘shooting’ effect was created by ink on vests under their shirts
Spoiler: The players aren’t actually been shot, paintball style, when they get eliminated from the show. Instead, the t-shirts they wore under the tracksuits were fitted with a “bulky vest” which had tubes of ink in. These would explode and make a whistling sound to signify when a player had ben eliminated.
One player said: “It was intimidating, and I remember every part of my body wanting to flinch the first time I heard it.”
Each episode cost over $1million to make
The show was mega expensive for Netflix to create, with reports saying costs including costumes, sets and looking after the contestants came to around $1million per episode. There are 10 episodes in total of Squid Game: The Challenge.
Bathrooms and toilets were attached to the main dorm room and living ‘felt like a festival’
To make the feeling amongst the contestants as intense as possible, the show created as much of a close-knit dorm feeling as it could. There was a bathroom and toilets connected to the main room, with players sharing 10 toilets with more than 200 people.
“It was a lot of queueing for showers or to brush your teeth, like you’re at a festival,” one player said. “We had no access to windows or anything that would indicate the time of day. We’d know it was bedtime only when we were warned that they were switching off the lights.”
The players were forced to get to know each other – to make their alliances
There was no way the players weren’t going to get to know each other, as after filming Red Light, Green Light, they were released into the dorm, and then there was no challenges for the next day. So the players had nothing else to do other than to get to know each other and their surroundings.
This meant alliances were formed early on, and people also decided who they didn’t like and put targets on people’s backs right from the outset.
In short, the living conditions sound a bit like a prison
The players were confined to one room, controlled by the guards, and shared a bunk with strangers. They were told when and what they had to eat, and given set bed and exercise times. What does that sound like? Prison. It’s prison. But they signed up to it!
Speaking to The Telegraph, the set designer said: “The dorm took on a prison yard chemistry. It seems such an unnaturally strange environment, to have that many people living, sleeping, eating, hanging out the whole time together. There was never any let-up for them.”
Players lived on set 24/7 and were not allowed to leave until eliminated.
The players had no contact with the outside world
Adding to the intensity of the environment, the players weren’t allowed phones or WiFi, or anything that would give them contact to the outside world.
Creators of the show didn’t actually ask cast members to pretend to drop dead
One of the things that makes the show as, maybe unnecessarily, dramatic as possible is how the players drop to the floor when they’ve been eliminated, like they’ve died as they would have in the original series. “I promise we didn’t tell them to drop like that. They just did,” a Netflix insider told The Telegraph.
The set was made to mimic the original show
For Squid Game: The Challenge, the creators purposefully set out to make the show look exactly the same as the original series. Filming began in January 2023, and was primarily at Wharf Studios in Barking, London. Some filming also took place at Cardington Studios in Bedford, a former aircraft hangar.
20 tons of steelwork went into building the iconic bunkbed structures in the main dorm room, and other rooms were carbon-copied – such as the Red Light, Green Light set, the room the cookie challenge was filmed in and the famous staircase into different challenge areas. Even the terrifying doll for Red Light, Green Light made a return.
“One of the big briefing points was to make these environments as immersive as possible,” Mathieu Weekes, the set designer, told The Telegraph. “They are very much kept in the moment, and in that intensity, the whole time.”
Applicants were kept on their toes about if they’d made it onto the show
Dani Templet, who was player 134 on the show, told Business Insider it wasn’t until months after she sent off her application that she heard back from Netflix.
“I had to submit a minute-long audition video,” she explained. “This is when I probably should have stopped and taken a look at myself — I had poorly done makeup on the bottom of my eyes from a failed attempt to wash it off. Despite that, I launched into a monologue about why I love reality shows and how competitive I am.
“I got the callback a week later. I was then passed on to a Zoom call with the show’s producers, and they said they’d get back to me. Then I heard nothing for six months. Around November or December, the producers finally contacted me to say they were flying me to the UK in January to compete on the show.”
Not everyone in the room was actually taking part in the cookie challenge at the same time
Some of the drama from the cookie challenge was manufactured by producers. The now famous umbrella king player 299 has said on his TikTok that not everyone in the room was playing at the same time, as the show made it seem.
“Only one-fourth of the room was actually competing [at] a time. The other three-fourths were asked to pretend and just move their fingers around like they were working on a cookie,” he said. “I was doing a bad job pretending and just watching others try to compete — that’s what was going on in this moment.”
The red guards were crew members!
Has anyone else been deeply wondering how people got cast to be one the red suit wearing guards? Well, huge behind the scenes Squid Game: The Challenge secret here, because the guards were actually all members of the Netflix crew!
Because of this, the crew were unseen to the players, so the whole experience felt even more real. They rarely saw crew members roaming about, they instead saw the guards, which made it easy to forget it was a TV show, and slip into thinking the games were real life.
A member of the crew told The Telegraph: “A lot of the crew were dressed either as guards or as contestants. And whenever we had to do turnarounds on set – for example, rejigging the beds whenever we lost a tranche of contestants – that was always scheduled for when they were on a different part of the set. We were pretty much invisible the whole time so that the fourth wall was never broken.”
Every single cast member filmed a confessional interview
456 players. Surely Netflix didn’t film an interview with every single one of them? But we’re wrong – they did! Every single player filmed a confessional interview, meaning that no matter what drama unfolded as the games progressed, there was footage to match and hear from the cast members in question. Netflix really didn’t miss a beat.
The prize fund is the biggest in history
Of course, the $4.56million prize fund is a huge way the producers made this show as dramatic as it is. It’s the largest cash prize in reality TV history, so the players had the most at stake.
Squid Game: The Challenge is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.