Unlike the 2001 movie, the Wet Hot American Summer series coming to Netflix Friday was not filmed at a working summer camp.
In fact, the magic of filmmaking made it possible to recreate the fictional Camp Firewood with only two recreated cabins for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
Though set near the real town of Waterville, Maine, the movie was filmed on location at Camp Towanda in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. First Day of Camp was filmed at Calamigos Ranch, aka “The Biggest Loser” Ranch in California.
“We took selected corners of it that were not fancy and recreated some of Camp Firewood,” director David Wain said in an interview with Variety. “We were still in touch with the camp back in Pennsylvania, so we were able to get original plans from the original bunks and photos to recreate those buildings. We built two camp cabins and faked a bunch more with a combination of visual effects and facades and other little tricks.”
The shoot took place in January and February.
“A camp is basically grass and cabins, so we just worked with the lenses and look and feel,” Wain said. In an interview with NPR, Wain noted that Camp Towanda invited them back to shoot at the camp, but they ended up only shooting exteriors of Henry Newman’s house (the scientist played by David Hyde Pierce) for the series.
Read more about the production of the Netflix series and the original movie at Variety.