The cast and writers of this year’s breakout comedy Theater Camp have opened up about the film’s creative process and improv scenes.
Directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, the film is a feature-length adaptation of the 2020 short of the same name and follows a New York theatre camp and its eccentric staffers who unite when its founder falls into a coma.
Gordon and Ben Platt lead the film as counsellors Rebecca-Diane and Amos Klobuchar, with supporting performances from Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Nathan Lee Graham, Ayo Edebiri, Owen Thiele, Caroline Aaron, Amy Sedaris and Alan Kim.
Platt and Galvin also co-wrote the film with Gordon and Lieberman.
In an exclusive featurette, Gordon reveals that she and her fellow writers Platt, Galvin and Lieberman were inspired by Curb Your Enthusiasm and its “scriptment where they explain everything that’s gonna happen, but all the dialogue is improvised”.
“We shot it more like a documentary, gathering this footage and then trusting that we were going to navigate through that in edit,” says Lieberman. “But on the flip side, we did have really tight structure and sense of what the story was.”
Platt explains that this “bespoke feeling” is what made the film feel “free”: “Even in moments that aren’t all improvised, even though a lot of them are. I think it all has that feeling of really organic, coming from the individual performer.”
Gordon, who memorably rose to fame with roles in Animal Kingdom (2016-2018) and Booksmart (2018), says that actors usually have a short amount of time to improv after shooting their scripted scenes. With Theater Camp, they envisioned the “10 minutes” they have to “play” stretched out to an entire movie.
“It just took a really long time to convince anyone to let us do that,” she says. “It’s a really fun way to make a movie.”
Check out the featurette below.
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