Season 14 of American Ninja Warrior is now in full steam.
Spotlighting the hard work and extraordinary efforts of more than 200 ninjas, the new episodes promise hours of entertainment for sports lovers and beyond. A summertime staple, the adrenaline-drenched TV show has already introduced viewers to athletes like Jordan Carr. But how much of it is real — and what's fake? Anthony Storm,the EP of American Ninja Warrior for A. Smith & Co. Productions, shared exclusive details with Distractify.
How much of 'American Ninja Warrior' is real? What's fake?
A show like American Ninja Warrior requires months of preparation, a dedicated crew, and a lot of attention. As executive producer Anthony Storm told Distractify, the work on the next season begins soon after the shooting wraps. "We're only in June right now. And we're not going to start shooting until March of next year, but my mind's already going on obstacles for Season 15 of American Ninja Warrior," Anthony said.
Coming up with ideas for the new set of obstacles is one of the first steps. Then, a prototype is built. The prototype then has to pass a series of tests evaluating safety and practicality. The ones that get the green light are then tested by real-life athletes. After that, the creators go back and fine-tune the obstacles, optimizing them for the shooting of American Ninja Warrior.
As Anthony explained, having the ability to swiftly reset an obstacle between two takes is of paramount importance. "Sometimes a really amazing obstacle can only be used once and then takes five minutes to reset it back. And we don't have those five minutes 100 times in a night," Anthony said.
In the past, there have been rumors that American Ninja Warrior obstacle courses might be tampered with or that the results of the contest might be rigged, but these rumors can't be corroborated.
How are 'American Ninja Warrior' contestants selected?
As Anthony explains, he and the creators of American Ninja Warrior have devised a few methods to learn about the work of as many athletes as possible in order to choose new contestants for the show. Contestants who have already impressed the crew by setting new records on American Ninja Warrior Junior have no reason not to try their luck on American Ninja Warrior, but the creators of American Ninja Warrior also consult coaches, and they tend to keep up to speed with the results of local competitions.
As Anthony suggested, American Ninja Warrior hopefuls should have more than incredible strength and a warrior mentality. The creators of the show consider the personalities and backgrounds of the would-be contestants. As Anthony said, the aim is to inspire the viewers and create jaw-dropping sequences featuring relatable athletes. As such, the size of one's biceps is far from the only thing that counts.
Athletes work in close collaboration with the producers of the American Ninja Warrior to nail what their narrative is and present themselves in a way that the viewers won't forget.
"That's a whole other side of production. There are teams of producers on set in every region. We were in five qualifying rounds. Every round has a team of producers assigned to it. And they've been working with those athletes for weeks and weeks," Anthony said.
"As soon as that round is cast, the producers immediately reach out to the athletes, and they start developing their stories, [asking], 'What is the story, your story that we're going to tell, and how are we going to tell it?'" Anthony added. In other words, parts of the show are carefully planned — including what we learn about the contestants.
New episodes of American Ninja Warrior air Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.