For Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, and much of the cast of “Theater Camp,” their Sundance comedy was years of friendship in the making.
“The origins truly began when Ben and I met each other when we were three. We pitched it immediately,” co-director, co-writer and star Molly Gordon joked during a discussion with TheWrap’s Executive Editor Adam Chitwood.
Gordon, co-director Nick Lieberman, writer-stars Noah Galvin and Ben Platt, and cast members Patti Harrison, Jimmy Tatro, and Owen Thiele stopped by TheWrap’s Portrait and Video Studio at The Music Lodge the day of “Theater Camp”s premiere.
The film follows the staff of a scrappy New York theater camp who must work together with their beloved founders’ “crypto bro” son after she falls into a coma in order to keep it running.
“As a group, we’ve always looked up to collectives that came up together and work with their friends, like Christopher Guest,” said Gordon. “[We] made a short five years ago and have been trying to adapt it into something larger.”
Noting that “comedy’s getting a bad rap,” she emphasized how lucky she felt “to make a movie with our friends and then bring in a greater community and give these amazing artists a chance to really own these roles and make it their own.”
Platt spoke about finding the balance between the script and improvised moments. “We definitely had a really clear structure going in and a purpose for every character,” he said. “At the same time it was so fun that the cast itself, being our friends, was also like a live writers room sometimes.”
“There was a feeling of like, ‘Oh, if everybody’s laughing here, like, that’s probably a good sign,’ and you know, a good constant communal energy,” he continued.
The cast said they “screamed and cried” when they learned the film had made it into Sundance.
“I associate a lot of comedies that have come out of Sundance with having so much heart and pathos,” said Platt. “I think from the very get-go, the four of us set out to write something and make something that was as sweet and meaningful as it was completely bizarre. And I think it felt like such validation of that tone to be included here.”
Watch the full video above.
TheWrap’s Portrait and Video Studio at The Music Lodge during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by NFP along with support from Sylvania and HigherDOSE