It’s time for summer camp — but you may want to avoid Camp Stillwater. While celebrating the show’s premiere at ATX TV Festival, the creators of Freeform’s creepy new show, who also created your favorites, ‘Once’ and ‘Lost,’ chatted with HollywoodLife.com exclusively about what’s coming.
Adam Horowitz, Eddy Kitsis and Ian Goldberg know a thing or two about making a good show. They made us fall in love with the magical world of Storybrook in Once Upon A Time, they made us crave answers week after week in Lost. So it’s no surprise that their new Freeform show, which they describe as a “cable teen show,” will contain some elements from both. Read our whole Q&A below.
Where did the idea come from?
Eddy: The three of us share a love of teen ‘80s movies, and horror in general. What I loved so much about camp was I got to be what I want. I could be teased all year in elementary school, but when I got to camp no one made fun of me about the things that I liked. In fact, they wanted to hear about them. And so we said this would be a great idea to do a show about identity. What was the jock like before he got to camp? What was the stoner like? We really wanted to invest in these characters and really mash John Hughes meets John Carpenter.
How did the transition work from Once to Dead?
Adam: Both shows share a lot of the same DNA. What we really want was to dive deep into characters — look at their past, look at their futures and on Dead, they’re facing their literal demons. With Dead of Summer, we’re stretching some other muscles that we don’t necessarily use in Once in Upon a Time.
Eddy: Dead of Summer in a weird way is kind of a combination. We did some of the stuff we did on Lost with some of the stuff we did on Once, and we kind of jumbled it together with these ’80s references.
How much will it be romance/relationships versus horror?
Eddy: There’s a lot of romance, Theres a lot of horror. It was important for us to have iconic camp moments, iconic horror moments, and iconic John Hughes moments.
Adam: The group dynamic is really important — how these counselors come together, form their friendships, interact with each other is a big part of the show. We’ll see a lot of romances that blossom, and fizzle out as well, all those types of ups and downs.
Ian: A lot of the counselors have a history that goes back to when they were camper at the camp, so they haven’t seen each other for a long time so there’s a layer there. then there’s a couple that are coming in for the first time, so how do they fit into the group dynamic?
Eddy: In the ’80s there was no email, and no one wrote letters so long distance was a big deal. Part of the fun is that these kids were so close at 12, and now they’re back at 18. That’s a big 6 years.
People see summer camp and think Friday the 13th.
Adam: We’re not a slasher show. Friday the 13th was an iconic movie of the ’80s, and certainly we’ve drawn inspiration from some of the slasher movies. This is much more of a supernatural horror show. It’s more The Shining at a summer camp than it is a Friday the 13th.
Eddy: So the way that the Overlook Hotel is — that’s what Camp Stillwater is, that’s what the lake is.
You wrote the role of Amy for Elizabeth Lail after Once. And Amy’s very skeptical of camp?
Adam: When she was playing Anna on Once, we were blown away by her talent. We were already thinking about this show and that character, we couldn’t think of anyone else that would play it. We wrote it with her in mind.
Eddy: I would say in any supernatural event theres the process of belief and everyone has to sort of drink the Kool-aid on their own terms. Each week we’re focused on a counselor, their flashback and they’re literally be the haunted by their own demons. Slowly e’s our way in –she’s our Dorothy bringing us to Oz, but soon everyone will realize they’re on the yellow brick road.
Dead of Summer airs on Freeform on June 28. at 9PM.