Camp Hideout: Family Comedy from Called Higher Studios
Sumer Camp shenanigans are at a high in this family comedy that feels a bit like Home Alone meets Ernest Goes to Jail. Camp Hideout stars Back to the Future‘s Christopher Lloyd and High School Musical‘s Corbin Bleu along with an ensemble cast of kids showing us it’s never too late to ask for help, the power of friendship, and the search for belonging.
We sat down with Director Sean Olson and Producer Jason Brown to learn more about the kids-driving this film, Called Higher Studios, and the food fight that took 3 days to clean up!
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: Jason, I want to start with you. Talk to me a little bit about Called Higher Studios and the concept behind that and how it’s led into making films like Camp Hideout.
Jason Brown: Called Higher Studios was the first Christian fan-owned movie studio. We started back in 2019. We’re actually owned by over 5,000 Christian fans all across the United States, and the world, who have invested a hundred dollars or 10-thousand dollars. So they actually own the studio — they own a piece of every project that we do. Early on, we asked them why they invested in one of our surveys, and one of the top answers was, “We want to go make content for our kids and our grandkids.” And so this idea was born, and it’s a fun movie that aligns with our mission that says, “Hey, we want to go make movies that spread the name of Jesus through film and TV.” And so we did this movie in the vein of Ernest Goes To Camp and Home Alone, and it’s just a good, fun, clean comedy that has some great faith elements in it.
RM: I could definitely see the Home Alone, protecting your territory against the not-so-good guys aspect, which I thought was really fun. So Sean, talk to me a little bit, tell me a little bit about the premise of the film Camp Hideout.
Sean Olson: Camp Hideout is the story of a foster kid named Noah who is really heading in the wrong direction in life. Everything’s not hit his way. And he’s recruited by these two guys, these two small town crooks, to steal a high-tech device, but the heist goes completely sideways and he escapes to a summer camp, and then it changes his whole life. And then eventually you get your Home Alone antics and everything else.
RM: There’s a lot of really great themes that can play out within that too. As a director, which was the theme that kind of resonated most with you, that you wanted to make sure was represented?
SO: I think for me, the biggest is it’s never too late to ask for help and get help. There’s a really, really poignant line in the movie that our lead character Noah says, and he says, “Do you think people are beyond help?” And Christopher Lloyd says, “I believe everybody is reachable.” And it’s such a good moment. And to see the character go from being… Feeling completely alone and nobody’s there to support him, to find this group of campers that all come together to help him out, it’s so great. And I love the fact that also it’s a kid-driven film. We have adult mentors in the movie, but it’s the kids doing everything, which is something that as a director, I love seeing. And as a parent.
RM: Jason, continuing on that theme, one theme that’s universal is that idea of maybe somebody seeing something more in you than you even see in yourself, or a second chance, or somebody taking a risk and investing in you as an individual. Where have you seen that play out in your own life to get to where you’re at today?
JB: Oh, wow. I think a lot of people have taken a chance on me and seen more in me than I probably did when I was looking in the mirror. First off, God saw a lot in me that I probably didn’t see. He knows who my identity is and what purpose he made me for. And so a lot of times I have to be reminded. But I think those same things are echoed in this movie. Sean did a really great job in crafting a narrative that has all these thematic elements that’s fun and entertaining. Noah learns unconditional love in this movie. He’s from the foster care system, so he never had a real family. He learns the value of family and friendship.
Sean’s made, gosh, I don’t know, what, five, 10 kids movies. And so he has a phenomenal way with getting kid actors to really bond and gel. And so we got to see it in the movie, but we actually also got to watch it kind of on set in kind of that environment. But I think that’s a main theme that goes across the entire movie is, a lot of times we need someone there to remind us what we’re capable of, and tell us they love us, and to show us what we can do. And in this case, it’s getting all the kids together and really beating up on some bad guys that are trying to come to your camp.
RM: Sean, talk to me about the ensemble of the kid cast. But then also as you mentioned, some famous adult faces that we know and love, like Christopher Lloyd, and High School Musical‘s Corbin Bleu. So talk to me about getting them all to gel together and what that looked like with you kind of spearheading it.
SO: Well, it was a really, really fun challenge because we had 11 plus kid speaking roles. And working with kid actors, sometimes you have to get their focus. I’m a father of two. I’ve got a 10 and 12 year old, so sometimes focusing the two of them is a lot. But all of the group of kids that we got, we spent a lot of time debating and discussing who we would get for this movie. And it was something that our casting director, Roe Baker, she really went to bat for us and found a great variety of people.
And then between her, Jason, and Phil and I, we found the heart of the movie with these young kid actors. And some of them, they’d never been on a set before. And so it was an immense challenge, but it was so fun. It was like we were at summer camp too, experiencing this with them. And so working with the adult actors too, they were great mentors. Corbin’s been acting since he’s two years old, and he was just so great with the actors. And then Christopher Lloyd just came to have a really, really good time. So it was great. It was super fun.
RM: I understand that it was a little bit of a family affair for you too? Your wife also wrote this script?
SO: Yeah, she co-wrote it with the two other writers on the film. So I mean, it was a family affair all the way across the board. I know Jason and Phil, their kids came to set and they were in the movie. My family lives in Los Angeles, and if it wasn’t during the school year, I would’ve brought them out. But I think that’s what makes it so fun is that all of our families are involved in it. And also it’s the big investor family, but everyone was involved with it, so it really felt like a great family community experience.
JO: You also had the YouTube families. Yeah, you had the YouTube families. They were in it too. Tic Tac Toy, which is a huge YouTube channel with over 5 million subscribers, they brought their family and had big roles. The Family Fun Squad, they came out. So I mean, there were families really all around this set.
SO: And they had a lot of fun at that food fight, that’s for sure.
RM: How many takes did you need for that food fight? How much food did you go through?
SO: That was something that I remember we had thoroughly discussed, I think almost on a daily basis, how we were going to do that. We had specific food that wouldn’t hurt anybody if you threw it. And then we really talked about planning it out, about what our cleanup is going to be. And so we did a lot of closeup kind of coverage first and then did our wide shot, and everybody just went to town. It was a blast. It was a blast.
JB: I will tell you that Deer Run, the camp, called me after the food fight and they said, “Hey, we had such a good time, but we just want to let you know it took us three days to clean that up.” So there was a lot of food and there was a lot of stuff thrown during that scene.
RM: I love it. They’re like, “We have rules for reasons,” but sometimes you just got to break those. I cannot wait for audiences to see this, and especially families. It’s something that’s fun for everyone, and regardless of your age level, you can glean some wisdom and have a few laughs from it too. So thank you guys so much for taking the time today.
Camp Hideout in theatres September 15