Kickstarting the Apocalypse - Daniel Crosier talks about Camp Crash Episode 2

Written by Neil Greenaway

The Camp Crash release poster, featuring the art of J. James McFarland.

In a post-apocalyptic landscape, a group of full-grown children (who never left their parents basements) are taken to a dystopian summer camp and taught the art of warfare.

That is the basic idea behind Camp Crash, a new web-series being developed by Writer/Director Daniel Crosier and the crew at Misassembly Productions. Filming at GRACe (the Globeville Riverfront Arts Center), Crosier and his crew produced the first episode in 2017 and debuted it in late December at the Mutiny Information Cafe in downtown Denver. When asked about the main theme and production Daniel said, “We wanted to feature a secluded, unknown backdrop of Denver where we can enact our absurd, creative script - and see what magic would erupt from it.”

And now the time has come for episode 2. This time around, the Misassembly crew are turning to crowdfunding for their production and running a Kickstarter campaign. Created by Crosier, the goal for this project would be to complete the new episode with friends (both new and old) while further uniting Denver’s creative community.  Misassembly also wants to bring backers on the production’s journey through the Kickstarter campaign.  Participants will have opportunities to be on set, experience a death scene, and take part in the creative process while also partaking in collectibles.

I had some more questions about the Kickstarter campaign, the new episode, and the Camp Crash series in general - and Daniel was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule just to appease my curiosity.

Neil Greenaway:  Can you explain the concept behind Camp Crash?

Daniel CrosierCamp Crash is a mishmash of influences like Mad Max, and Meatballs.  After seeing Mad Max: Fury Road I was thinking about what my approach to a post-apocalyptic jaunt might be.  I thought about dystopian summer camp, and since I had access to GRACe in Globeville, that is artist studios and stockyard, I decided that’d be a great setting. I wanted to make it found object, and involve my friends as much as I can to achieve something along the lines of a dramatized Burning Man gathering.

Hagar T. Mangtooth holds aloft the hand of Daniel Crosier, writer & director of Camp Crash!

NG:  What is the web-series about?

DC:  After the economic crash in ’08, kids retreated to their parents’ basements.  Some never moved back out. So the parents signed the kids up for summer camp to get them out of the house.  Along the way, one group of kids is hijacked by Hagar T. Mangtooth, camp counselor of Camp Crash, where he takes them to learn the art of warfare.  There they must fight to become camp director! The greatest of honors!

NG:  Can you tell us about some of the main characters that inhabit this world?

DC:  You have the four kids who are your guides through this terrain.  But you meet characters like Hagar T. Mangtooth, the camp counselor. Mangtooth is the surrogate father figure - or bumbling, sword wielding uncle - that you never want to have, but are stuck with. Plus the valkyrie warrior, A.R. Mas Tildun who guards the gates of Crash.  They’re all worthy of their own action figures.  The upcoming episode 2 will introduce Stu Moungus; camp director Faux Mangina; and the like of Meo Toto.  After which will be a flood gate of absurd characters.

The campers march! A still from Camp Crash episode 1.

NG:  The first episode saw the campers gathering and meeting their camp counselor for the first time. Can you tell us what to expect from the second episode?

DC:  Once they enter Camp Crash, it is the Hall of Mess time, where the locals hunt wild burritos - plus some endearing moments for the campers - layered with moments of death, combustion, blood and glitter! So, you know. Happiness!

NG:  I know that after the second episode, you want to film 9 more episodes of Camp Crash. How much of the story do you have planned out already?

DC:  The scripts are all done.  However, I treat them as a living organism and not some bible. They are  free to change drastically.  I purposely left details like locations, set pieces, costumes, and props vague so that we can utilize what we have in our limited grasp.  Limitations breed innovations.

The actors are encouraged to make their characters their own.  Create back stories.  Make their own costumes. Inform us on how their story goes. Improv on set. Very exciting stuff! Like Twizzlers!  Is it a straw or just a candy? I am here too say that it is indeed both.  Probably best not to be used as a hose for your car though.

NG:  A lot of the characters in Camp Crash are played by Denver local artists, and you have several more involved on the production side of things. How did you bring this group together?

DC:  You’re right. They are friends or started out as friends of friends.  We have a wonderful family unit.  There is nothing I wouldn’t do for these cute boogers! With that, it is all about networking.  They enjoyed the material. Saw that it could be a fun fever dream. Off we went.

Hagar T. Mangtooth threatens Kid 2 in Camp Crash episode 1.

NG:  Does everyone work well together?

DC:  Indeed.  I think so.  I think there is a large family element. Episode 1 was a hilarious time in front of that camera and behind.  Lot’s of food and planning! I did not want to waste anyone’s limited time.

NG:  You had said that the actors were encouraged to create their own characters and supply some of their own props - that must add a chaotic, mismatched aesthetic to the series. Did that add any challenges to the production?

DC:  Yes. To expand on what I mentioned. They were able to inform the script, and how things were shot.  I might be the writer and director, but with a group effort like that I welcome when my cast and crew pitch new ideas.  I don’t have all the answers.  I would suppose that could be perceived as arrogant if I did.  I wanted to create a safe space to share ideas.  Truly make it a team effort!  With that, yep, the script was always changing.  The other scripts for the future episodes continue to change.

NG:  Several of the high-end backer rewards for this campaign feature opportunities to be a part of the filming process. Do you think it will be fun seeing fans interact in a real way with the project they are funding?

DC:  I think they’ll have a blast.  They might have paid to play.  They are a larger component for us to get to the finish line and beyond.  We are open to have them be part of the family.  I think that is one way to strengthen the creative community both locally and globally. 

With the state of politics and the world reshaping the way that it is, I feel we need to open our hands and homes because we’re all in this together.  So let’s have fun making art and more importantly an endearing mess.  Camp Crash, baby!

Hagar T. Mangtooth (played by Allan Elijah Cutler) in the new Camp Crash Kickstarter video.

Along with Daniel, the cast of the new episode already includes Denver actors Allan Elijah Cutler (seen in the KS video), Ashley Frary-Lutz, Kelly Shortandqueer, Bonnie Finley, Craig “Pepper” Deluca, and Amanda Armstrong.  Behind the scenes, Camp Crash has Ryan Policky as the director of photography and editor, with music from The Limbs and Little Fyodor. Misassembly co-producers Pete Roskop, Gerhard Ka’aihue, Elise Sargent, and Quddus Ajimine (alongside a local support system of family and friends) were also involved.

Crosier reflected on one of his favorite moments during filming, saying,  “I had a fantastic time working with my remarkably talented friends creating this absurd world as truck drivers passed by scratching their heads at what was transpiring in front of them. Good ol’ family fun!”

The Camp Crash Episode 2 Kickstarter ends on August 10, 2018. Look in on their campaign, watch the video, and support this humorous new web-series if you can!

To learn more about Camp Crash and support the project, click here.

To read another interview with Daniel Crosier, click here.

To learn more about Misassembly, click here.

Also, the version of Camp Crash episode 1 that appears at the end of the Kickstarter video (seen above) is the edited cut. To see the NSFW version (contains full frontal nudity) click here.

A.R. Mas Tildun is greeted by Hagar T. Mangtooth in Camp Crash episode 1.