Set in the 1980s, Freeform’s Dead of Summer tells the story of Camp Stillwater. Prior to the 80s, something horrible happened on the camp grounds and now a dark, ancient mythology has awakened setting its sights on the seven counselors and campers. While at San Diego Comic-Con, TNWU chatted with Executive Producers’ Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis and Ian Goldberg about this season’s remaining episodes and their love for the 80s. Read our interview below.
Why did you set the story in the 80s?
Adam Horowitz: First, for purely selfish reasons. (laughs). That’s when we went to camp and came of age. Ian is a little bit younger so his was a couple years later. But we love that era and it means a lot to us. We also feel like for the story we are telling it is so appropriate. So many iconic television shows were during that era and so many iconic coming of age stories are from that period as well. It all worked really well.
Ian Goldberg: It also helps a lot when you have a horror show to have it set in the 80’s – before you had cell phones, iPads, and iPhones. When you’re isolated, you really feel isolated and it’s not as easy to call for an emergency when you have someone chasing after you.
In what ways did those 80s movies influence the show?
Edward Kitsis: I definitely think we were inspired by all of those films in that 80’s sensibility that we tried to give the show. And yet at the same time, we hope to use that sense of nostalgia you have to try and change your perception. So, because you are used to following those movies in one way, we’re hoping to pull the rock from under when you keep watching.
The 80’s were also very heavily political.
Ian: We touch on that a little bit. In episode two, we revealed that Alex’s character is from the Soviet Union.
Edward: We used episode two, which was Alex in the Soviet Union, as what we believe is the American dream. We kind of blended the “greed is good,” Gordon Gekko aspect with kind of what is going on today. So, I don’t think our show is the kind of show with the audience that truly wants to dive into 80’s politics. To us, it’s much more about these characters and that time period and how that time period affects them.
How do you balance 80s movie with the storyline for the show?
Edward: For us, my favorite 80s movies are Say Anything, Heathers and River’s Edge. They work because the kids are real. So, for us, we never wanted to make the 80’s silly. The show is in 1983, but there is something timeless. We wanted to do more timeless than moments with really big shoulder pads.
What can you tease is in store for the remainder of this season?
Adam: Death is a great unifier. (laughs). There is a lot of scary things and really horrific and supernatural things coming up. I think that helps bring people together. What we love about the show is all the different types of characters that come from different backgrounds and seeing how they can kind of learn about each other and come together.
Does Joel’s camera have any kind of significance?
Edward: It does. The episode we air Tuesday night goes back to the story of why he always has the camera and is the perfect example of how in a horror movie there is always someone filming it or recording it. (laughs). But we have a very specific as to why.
How does the show address boundaries for each of the characters?
Edward: Every episode kind of deals with it and I think with each person’s backstory kind of showing what demons they have. The reason we chose to focus on the counselors is because that’s when you are starting a new life. That’s when you can say whatever I was in high school can go away. I can just be what I want. So, we see a lot of that in these characters.
One of my favorite episodes was Cricket’s backstory. Will we see her continue to be vulnerable?
Edward: You absolutely will! You need to see Episode Five! You are going to see her be very vulnerable.
Do you have an idea of what you’d like to focus on for future seasons?
Edward: Every year is its own year. We have an idea for what our final year would be, but right now we have to focus on this one and get through it. But I think you always plan for more with a TV show. People always think “they’re making it up as they go along.” Well, sure, because you have to allow the freedom because the thing we said at the start of the show may not hold true still by May. The show starts to tell you that you have to grow with it. So, we have a plan for how we would like to end it, but the journey is still open to interpretation.
*Interview was done by TNWU’s on-site SDCC reporter Anna Ruth Ramos