Sleepaway Camp in The Great Indoors – Or Shooting Chukchansi’s Fun for Life Commercials

Posted: December 18, 2017 by Jessie Irwin

By the last day of shooting, I was ready to leave the Great Indoors summer camp—a nocturnal, Broadway musical, trapped-inside-a-resort version of The Shining kind of summer camp, but way less creepy and way more casino-y.

I called my mom and told her I missed her. I missed my own bed and my best friends back home.

I left behind my all-you-can-eat-buffet life, my new best friends, and my ‘See you next summer’ goodbyes that lacked any youthful optimism. I knew I wouldn’t see most of my new friends ever again.

We had worked so hard the days and nights before, we hardly stuck around long enough after wrapping to say, I’ll find you on Instagram! or Appreciate you—have a nice life!

I say we worked hard because, yes, I worked hard and they worked hard and therefore we worked hard. But I worked hard like keeping a kite in the air on a still day hard; the dancers and film crew worked hard like flying a kite in each hand. Indoors. And in the dark. And if a kite falls, someone loses a finger and everyone has to put down their kites and start over again. That kind of hard.

If we wanted easy, we would have shot people winning in front of a slot machine. We would have said, Ok people, really big this time. Act like you just won a million dollars! Big smiles! And, action!

We’re not in the business of easy.

We’re in the business of writing and composing a song that’s catchy enough to get stuck in your head.

We’re in the business of capturing human emotion and expressing it through film, song, dance, art, fashion and turning it in to a 2-part, 30-second commercial.

We’re in the business of hot gluing filet mignon and lobster to a ceramic plate.

And making sure 30 people have dresses, tuxes, shoes, casino uniforms, wait staff uniforms, hotel uniforms, spa uniforms—plus enough stretchy pants for yourself for 4 days of shooting—then making sure everyone has camera-ready hair and makeup before each scene.

We aren’t usually in the business of waking up at 3am after going to bed at 12am. But we are in the business of do whatever you have to do—which sometimes includes working a schedule that includes micro naps and a 24/7 coffee bar even though you’ve been off the juice for months, or redesigning choreography during the time you’re supposed to be resting because you found out it doesn’t look how you thought it would when you were rehearsing in studio, and you have to shoot it in less than 12 hours. (I have a pic for this)

It wasn’t easy. But we wouldn’t have pursued this concept it if it was. Easy isn’t memorable; it’s predictable. Easy is no fun—and I bet it even makes jack a dull boy.

But no one lost their mind (publically). We left the Great Indoors together feeling like we were in the last scene of The Breakfast Club.

We’re all following each other on Instagram. Nobody’s kite fell out of the sky. No one lost a finger. And we’re all ready to do it again.

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