Nickelodeon’s live-action superhero series Danger Force is ready to save the day with a quarantine-themed special. Produced virtually, the “Quaran-kini” special will air on May 9, and feature the heroes of Danger Force solving a mystery on a conference call while stuck in quarantine. It was crucial to premiere the special as quickly as possible, says Danger Force creator and executive producer Christopher Nowak, to make sure it was as relevant as possible to kids’ current experience.
The special was written by Nowak and directed by Mike Caron (Henry Danger, Game Shakers). Samantha Martin (Henry Danger The Musical) wrote an original song for the special.
Based on the popular Henry Danger universe, Danger Force premiered on March 28. In addition to fan favorite characters like Captain Man and Schwoz, Danger Force introduced four kid characters that are recruited to become superheroes.
The idea of a virtually produced special first came up in a conference call with Nickelodeon execs on April 2 after social media posts from a few of the actors (in character) went viral on TikTok. Nowak started writing on April 6, a table read was conducted on April 16 and filming wrapped just four days later on April 20.
During filming, the team set up two virtual conference rooms. One was used as a ready room where final adjustments could be made, and the second was used for recording.
“We were really inventing this new production process as we went,” says Nowak.
All of the actors were provided laptops with high-quality cameras as well as ethernet cables so they could film themselves from home. Then, the show’s different departments held video conferences with the actors to rearrange furniture in their homes, adjust lighting and sound, and make sure hair and makeup were consistent with the rest of the series.
“We really counted on the kids’ families to help us, and there was this fun feeling of putting on a play in the treehouse,” Nowak says. “You’d be in a virtual meeting with the art department, and there would be a production designer walking a parent through how to make set decorations using materials they had on hand in their home.”
While Nowak hopes the team will be back on set soon, he says learnings from the “Quaran-kini” special will make it easier to create more content while in lockdown. If Nickelodeon does want to bow more quarantine content, for Danger Force or any other shows though, Nowak says they will have to keep pushing to make things feel fresh for the audience.
“Kids like physical comedy, so I don’t know how long we can sustain this [direct-to-camera confessional format].”