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Dead of Summer

At camp, no one can hear you scream.

  • Dead of Summer


Working with Freeform on their Stitchers launch spot was an amazing experience, so when they asked NuContext to help them create an incredible upfront for their big summer tentpole show, we jumped at the opportunity. The show was Dead of Summer, a retro ’80s supernatural horror story set at a Midwestern summer camp.

Right from the get-go, there were a few challenges. The show was set to shoot in Vancouver, but the cast, crew, and sets would not be ready in time for us to use them. We’d have to create our own Camp Stillwater. Scouting trips up to the mountains north of LA quickly revealed that California’s epic drought was not going to make it easy to find a lakeside camp that could mimic the lush green of the classic ’80s summer camp horror films. But we dug deep and found the perfect location.

After an underwater shoot in a water tank in LA, NuContext and our Freeform clients packed up and went off to camp. Literally. There were no hotels in the area, so everyone bunked right there next to the lake. For three days, our team used all sorts of tactics to conjure up the eerie, sinister Dead of Summer spirit. We shot with an Alexa, a drone, a MoVI rig, and VHS. We even got to deploy some gnarly practical special effects, like a bleeding tree and a beating heart. Jason Voorhees would be so proud of us. Shoot days often feel like real life has been put on pause, but this camp experience with our crew and client went way beyond that, in the best way possible.

The wealth of footage captured allowed our editor to try a host of different executions. Working closely with Freeform, we eventually settled on a winner. The client was so happy with the result that the upfront spot was repurposed as an on-air teaser and some of the footage we shot made it into the show’s on-air graphics toolkit.

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