It’s one thing to make a film about summer camp. It’s quite another to get big musical numbers done in one day.
But that was the case with “A Week Away,” the new Netflix feature that star Bailee Madison calls “the little movie that could.”
“We didn’t partner with Netflix until after the fact, so it wasn’t like we had days to go back and reshoot,” she says. “Oftentimes, we were just trying to beat the light.”
For the big “Place in this World” number, the cast had to get everything – running, location changes, a dock sequence – in one day. “We had maybe 40 minutes (until the sun went down),” she says. “We only had one take for each set-up. It was major heart attacks.”
The run-and-gun pace, however, worked for a film about kids at summer camp, particularly since the actors had “skeleton” crews that helped the five main stars through the film’s choreography.
“They kind of dumbed down the choreography for us since we’re not professional dancers,” says Kevin Quinn, who plays Will, a troubled teen who’s sent to camp instead of juvenile detention. “The work they did made it so much easier. I’m not sure we would have been able to pull off those movements if not for their hard work.”
Although “A Week Away” is a faith-based film, it doesn’t harp on religion. Instead, it uses songs by some of the leading Christian artists to show the growth the teens go through.
Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman make cameos in the film and “it was a really cool experience getting their nod of approval every time we would show them a new demo of the song we were working on,” Quinn says.
Madison, who plays Avery, a camper Will befriends, sent her brother a demo of “Place in This World” and he called her, crying. “He said, ‘This is crazy. I listened to this song during the hardest year I had in college.’” Hearing his sister cover it was a real rush for him and his family. “It’s a big part of our hearts and who we are,” Madison says.
Quinn says producers were determined to use the music in a subtle way so the story would be open to everyone. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, any walk of life, any person. We want this movie to be inclusive for everyone. The fact that it didn’t hit hard on those (faith) aspects but hinted at them worked to the movie’s benefit.”
Less subtle? The games of dodgeball.
“I thought I lined up the shot great and it would just hit the wall,” Madison says. “I am not coordinated at all. I was just happy I got hit. Then I could go stand by Kevin and cheer.”
Quinn, however, embraced the game – and the movie. “'Dodgeball' is one of my favorites,” he says with a smile.
Camp, too, was a big part of his early teens. “My parents sent me, by no choice of my own,” Quinn says. “I was a handful and a bit unpredictable growing up. They wanted it to be an experience where I could grow and be a bit more independent of my parents. I definitely grew.”
Unlike his character, he didn’t steal a cop car or get a tattoo.
“I got the first tattoo at 21,” Quinn says of the real art that decorates his arm. “And I got the second at 21 ½. I never thought I’d have tattoos, but the day finally came.”
Madison, meanwhile, never even went to camp. “This is the closest I’ve ever gotten. I didn’t get the full camp experience but…I’m a big fan.”
Now that Netflix is airing “A Week Away,” Quinn and Madison hope the streaming service will consider a sequel.
“I would love to see (Will) open up a bit more, especially in his relationship with Avery,” Quinn says.
And, as a twist, Madison says, Avery could change drastically: “There’s a rebellion coming out … there’s a new bad kid in camp.”
“A Week Away” begins this week on Netflix.