‘Theater Camp’ Directors Talk Buzzy Sundance Comedy – Deadline


The Deadline Studio at Sundance Film Festival runs January 20-23 at Hotel Park City, where the cast and creatives behind the best and buzziest titles in this year’s lineup sit down with Deadline’s festival team to discuss their movies and the paths they took to get to Park City.

Section: U.S. Dramatic Competition
Directors: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman
Screenwriters: Noah Galvin, Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Ben Platt

Logline: When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat, and to get its musical of the season ready for opening night. Based on the 2020 short film of the same name directed by Nick Lieberman, from a script written by Lieberman, Noah Galvin and Molly Gordon.

Panelists: Ben Platt (writer-producer-actor), Noah Galvin (writer-producer-actor), Molly Gordon (writer-director-producer-actor), Nick Lieberman (writer-director-producer), Jimmy Tatro (actor), Patti Harrison (actor), Owen Thiele (actor)

Sales Agent: WME

First Screening: January 21, 3:25 p.m. MST, Eccles Theatre

Key Quote: “[We were] always very inspired by collectives like Christopher Guest’s that came up together and made sh*t with their friends. So, we made a short about five years ago, and then I’ve been trying to adapt it into something larger, and it just is a long road…[Executing our vision] was incredibly daunting. When we wrote it, we never dreamed that we would have 19 days. That was just what we got. So, we just needed to be prepared at every moment, and sucking the juice out of every moment.”

“We all know each other so well, have worked together…for so many years. So, we were able to create this hybrid process a bit where we did create a really clear outline. It’s very structured, and we knew the purpose of every scene, and would let that be organically found.” — Nick Lieberman

“We’d take inspiration from shows like Curb [Your Enthusiasm] that really, really carefully structure…Every scene is pretty much beated out, and then they get to sort of just vibe and improv within the space. I think we very much wanted to make that happen for ourselves, and I think we achieved a nice, healthy balance.” — Noah Galvin

“We all love musical theater so deeply and I think that it’s a really scary leap of faith, as we’ve been discussing, to do a film with so much freedom. [But] I think it was something that we had such a clear vision for…and something we could really control, so it just felt like such a joy to fully realize it. And also, as just theater nerds ourselves, to have the opportunity to sort of write a micro-musical is just a blessing, and it was really a blast.” — Ben Platt

Click above to watch the panel video, and track all of our Deadline Studio content here.

RELATED: Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winners Through The Years – Photo Gallery

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 19-29. Follow Deadline’s complete coverage of the deals and the doings in Park City here.

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