KILLER CAMP creator and star Ben Wilson & Bobby Mair (INTERVIEW)
KILLER CAMP aired it's 2nd season on ITV2 and brings back the hilarious yet gory campfire stories of reality TV nightmares. Show creator Ben Wilson and camp councillor Bobby Mair discuss what makes the programme so unique.
Thank you very much for taking the time to, uh, to speak to me, uh, on behalf of blood guts. And I just wanna really just say a huge, well done on the work with KILLER CAMP. The second season has arrived here in the UK. How did the show come about?
Wow, uh, that's that's all Ben, so let me sort of think. Um, so I had worked on a show called release the hound for ITV2 with a company called primal media. And we, I guess it, it played into my love of horror and my, the love of horror I've had since I was a kid, um, watching evil then too, when I was far too young to be watching evil t
hen too, but just loving it and just, um, sort of starting a lifelong obsession with football things horror and after, um, moving to child, um, which is a, of the company that makes killer, can we got to thinking, how can we, you know, what, what can we do in the horror genre that we, that is different from, from, um, release the hounds. So, um, and that got us to thinking about reality, the reality TV and, um, games like mafia and where, which are sort of who done it, um, pile games, and whether we could sort of complicate them all into a, uh, a new sort of reality show where the twists would be that, um, instead of being eliminated and just, you know, leaving the show, you would get murdered, you would be, get quote quotes murdered.
So it was just, it was a sort of way of doing, making our sort of my sort of favorite genre. And I work, we work with the team at Chu's child to sort of come up with this sort of new format, which was, was ke camp. So that's sort of the origin of it. And then Paul Baltimore and Peter T at, um, ITV gave it, you know, like the idea, I think really loved the idea and gave us the opportunity to make season one. And we cut together this really fun, um, SI tape made up of, um, load of eighties, sort of early nineties horror movies, which was sort of the, the idea of, um, which was sort of sold the idea of a show. So I think that sort of, that's basically the origin story of, of, of the killer camp. Um, and we got Bobby on board because, you know, we, we, we, we would look, we were looking around for, for the, for this character.
We wanted someone who could be, who could play the host, but also, you know, just, I view it with some its own sort of sense of energy. And then when Bobby came in and, and, and audition for an, we met with him and I think we tried out some, we tried out some, an early version of the script, like his performance really like dictated what camp the camp counselor would be, would be like. And I think after we met with him, we went back and we rewrote some of the stories and, and, and actually it's made it more like Bobby and more, more based on his sort of stand-up and his sort of his sort of performance. Uh, not that Bobby's a crazy psychopath, but he has an element of his performance, which is sort of intense and passionate and like just really gets, uh, it really is really exciting. So we like and write that he's our, he's our camp counsellor. He's perfect for it. And, you know, we've got, you know, he's, he's already got all these amazing strengths that we should definitely use, so sorry, meandered around there. Um, but that's, that's basically the, the, the, the live and short of it.
Oh, cool. It's amazing that you mentioned RELEASE THE HOUNDS because I was saying the only thing that was seen slightly comparable to, to kill a camp would be something like release a which again, you know, huge fan of. So it is kind of, they go hand in hand really good to see Bobby in terms of the, the role of counsellor, you know, how much fun do you have as much fun as it comes across on screen?
I mean, I'm having a great time. Uh, just back to what Ben was saying when they brought me in to, uh, to kind of, I guess, try out the scripts or have a meeting. It was this weird feeling where they handed me the scripts and I did a reading on camera and I felt like do it, but I just sure. If I had done well enough. So for the whole weekend, I was so depressed because I thought I had it up. So I was just so sad from like Friday to Monday thinking like, I've ruined this, I've had this great chance for something I'd be perfect for and it, I, can I do it again? I've gotten in touch with my agents said, can, can probably come in again, like he's, you know, he really, and then I think on the Tuesday they just said, no, no, he has the job and I was like, oh, okay, great.
Like it was so cuz it's when you auditioned for something that like, it's just like a call. It doesn't really matter, you know, but for this I felt like, you know, there would probably not see many people. I felt like I can really do this. I know what I can do this. And I was so scared. I didn't get it. The money did. It was like, it was, uh, it was great. It was a perfect, it was a perfect match. Um, and that you already had a north American accent. So it was like already, already perfect.
It's a much made in heaven to be fair. I mean, Bobby I've gotta mention at this point, the elaborate stories that take place, uh, throughout every episode and lead ultimately into one participant death, how much of those stories is your own war, old imagination and how much of it, you know, where, where does it, where do those stories come from?
Uh, those stories. So usually Ben and the team would write a first, uh, like a couple drafts of those stories. And then when I get them, I will, I guess I'll, I don't change much. I, I put them into my own voice a bit and maybe add a couple of the, the descriptive kind of like supports on top. But, um, yeah. And then performance wise, I don't really plan that much, what I'm gonna do. I just kind of feel it out and really the main goal when I'm telling this story is to scare the campers. So you're just trying to tell a really scary story. And I remember, especially in the first season, it was amazing. I remember the first time I told this story and I looked at people crying. I'm like, I making people cry right now. This is, but you still have to try to be funny while, and I felt bad the first time I made someone cry, but then the next day, the SA I think with Sean in the first season, she cried again and I realized, oh, she just cries. Okay, well, no, one's actually dying. I'm allowed to make this girl cry. And then I just amp it up and scream in her face.
That sounds like good for the whole hybrid of the reality TV show element, how difficult and Ben, this is probably more under you. How difficult is it to balance the, the scripted nature of the, the horror and the deaths compared to what's actually playing out with the band of contestants, the camp mates?
We, we sort of wanted from the, from a, the top we wanted to differentiate between obviously the, the sort of cinematic fictional deaths and the, and the reality. Like we wanted them to have a distinct, uh, visual identity. So for example, the fictionalized deaths, um, apart from the, the one that happened during the day, all in, uh, wide screen format and the shot shot our director and D O P shot them. Uh, so they looked a little bit more, more cinematic on prime lenses and, you know, they sort of have more of a film sort of field. So we wanted them to feel, you know, we wanted to be aware that you're stepping into something a little bit different. Um, there was always the danger that the fictionalized deaths would cause the reality to be doubted like it was, you know, like people wouldn't think that the, the stuff that was happening during the daytime or in the cabin during the games was, was sort real.
But, um, and that's just not the case, you know, it's all everything apart from some of the, the daytime murders everything had during the day was all sort of as a traditional reality show. And I think it helped that some of that was shot in, on sort of CCTV style, hot heads and, and sort of, uh, we always kept it long, wherever possible, kept a sort of long lens that voyeuristic and looked like we, we were sort of listening into the, the mates rather than with a camera, sort of got their nose, uh, with the exception of any sort of set pieces, like game or a, a campfire or something like that. So yeah, it was, we wanted to really differentiate between the reality and the murders, and we did that visually. Um, but it was, um, yeah, I guess it's, uh, it's um, yeah, we, yeah, I don't, I don't, I think they sort of stand up on their own.
I think they each sort of stand out as to what's real and what's sort of fictionalized, uh, and, and think the re the, the fictionalized murders only start to enhance the reality cuz you are, you know, you've got to know these people and Bobby's stories are so brilliant that you, you know, you care about them and you care what happens to them. So you, you are, you know, you're sad to see them go, but also like just fascinated as to how they're gonna go that night each for that week, you know, how what's, what story Bobby's gonna tell and how are they, how have they been the smash? So we wanted to be like, we wanted to give each person who gets killed, like their own to make them the stars of their own horror movie for, you know, five minutes at the end of an app. So, um, it felt like a fitting sort of farewell to, to them.
And each contestant comes in with a, with a, a kind of an appearance of a stereotypical camp mate from, you know, genres gone by. But, you know, in terms of those send offs and that element of horror, how much are they bought into the horror element of the show coming from that reality TV baseline?
So they know, so in season one, they were, it was a complete shock. They didn't know what the show was. So we, they were coming into a show, they thought, which is a summer camp based show. Um, uh, and the only people who knew what show they were going into, what the actual show was, were the killers in its season one. So we had sort of two killers lined up in season two. We just didn't even pretend like we, um, we, we, we just embraced the fact that they knew it was a hot, it was a, it was killer cam and, and that just helped cuz it meant from the moment they arrived, they were suspicious and they were looking, you know, for who the killer was. So like it was, it sort of worked in our favour and also, you know, they were expecting, you know, when's the first person gonna die. When's, you know, what's gonna happen like season one or told us. So there's, you know, there twists or turns anything can happen. And it came pleasant and season two sort of back that up so that, you know, they were on edge and playing the game from the off in season two that really helped us, I think.
Is there a favourite death you've got from the, the things that have been filmed so far?
My favourite death is probably still season one, the penis through the eye.
I mean just cuz when you start comedy, you never think you're gonna get to tell a story on television where someone's in, hang up by a guy Venus, like that's, you know, that's not really what you think. So that was just so surprising that we kind of got away with that. Yeah. Do you remember playing that at a comedy night? Were you there that when we, we played at a, a comedy night live sort of, um, so it was outta , it's it a lot of reaction it was certainly like, oh, I guess you haven't seen a build up to it, but yeah, that is a favourite and just a love of like do like all, I think all of them, I think nearly all of mostly practical effects and that one was, you know, literally a giant phallus on a stick, you know, running through the statue, like being pushed into the camera to get the sort 3d shot to get the shot of approaching Warren's eye.
So it was like if that was, and obviously I think as Bobby said, it sort of really worked. So yeah, I have a soft spot for them all and I love that we're sort of able to do things in this sort of practical, way, which is obviously inspired by eighties horror movies before CGI or CGI blood and where everything has to be in camera. And for real, you know, there's a notable exception in the fan murder in an episode in season two, but everything else was just getting our fingers bloody and trying to find solutions to make it work in camera.
And you just mentioned there, the practical affection of that is my, that is my love letter to horror. You know, you can make a really bad horror film, but if the effects were practical, then you can get away with it. And I think the, the great thing about KILLER CAMP is there's no halfway house. This is primetime ITV2 entertainment, reality TV show. And yet at the same time, there is full on practical effects blood guts got and you know, no, no casualties are spared, you know, absolutely love it.
Yeah, it is something we're really proud of. And we have an amazing SFX team in Lithuania where we shoot it and we sort of send them these murders. We have these really long sort of discussions where they're like going, you wanna do what we put a penis in someone's eye. Then we sort of have to explain them and then they sort of go away and I just get loads of WhatsApp videos of like feet exploding or, plastic heads like smashing into smithereens. So they just like get on board and just get stuck in to like creating really, but sort of safe solutions to these, to these conundrums. And they're always the first guys to offer as a bigger explosion or an interesting solution, obviously keeping it safe, but they are, they really get it, they really help us out and make us more inventive.
Is there anything that, uh, has been thought up in the, uh, and put on the cutting room floor because it's gone too far?
I think there was some, there was some questions about the first contestant to be eliminated in season two was quite a gory sort of whole head exploded. And I think we sort of, you know, we did it, the effect shot is, [gory]. Bruce sort of enters frame swings his that and covers the real basil and obviously transitions to the, to the dummy, the editing, the job they did in the cut, it's just so it's like seamless. You just can't tell. That was a question about whether that would go on cut, but no, they didn't. Nothing's been rejected. I think we kept Bob's cause Bobby's thought we have just like change when we're gonna, um, how much swearing we gonna have in the stories and, and cause like a well timed F bomb in one of Bobby's stories, it just really enhances story.
It makes it funny. I think that's the only thing we sort of it's, it's hard. Like we can sort, sort of get away, we're showing anything, but it's the language has to be sort of curtailed and, and, and ranged in a little bit, but you know, a single F or a couple of story makes it even, it makes it more, it makes it even funnier. I think probably what you, what do you think?
Oh, definitely like confusing women. Fair is very important, but, uh, yeah, I think in terms of, uh, I never felt in any amazingly, you know, it's network television, but I never felt in any way restricted, there was nothing I wanted to do that we couldn't do. So I felt completely free in essence.
And Bobby, it's obvious you have a close relationship with Bruce. Is there any anticipation for Bobby the counsellor to see a grizzly end?
I don't think so. No, I think this is my life Bobby. He works at CA am pleasant. Bobby never leaves camp pleasant, and this is just what he does every year. A bunch of campers come and he helps kill them. I, I think Bruce, you know, I'm, Bruce's PR pretty much his only friend. I think we established in season two, I'm his brother. I'm not sure that was very clear season one, but relationships are complicated, so I'm his brother now. So I don't think he would hurt me.
That's good to hear. They have a good relationship they are, uh, they, um, symbiotic, um, symbiotic, horror relationship in the show. Yeah, it's more, without Bobby, Bruce would never get to do what he needs to do. You know, I'm the front man. Who's kind of bringing the people in. And, and I did like all the additions we made to Bruce and legend in season two, were always fun to make. It was a really nice addition to be able to add in a bit of law and background and stuff to them. So like Bobby's relationship with his mom, Bruce, and Bobby's relationship with each other. He sort of had a layer in, and it was nice to see the people on Twitter and social media respond to that as well. Like just enjoy sort of reading [and] learning more about these crazy characters
And how, how much of that is inspired by the genre?
I think all of it, like it was always, we loved, you know, in season one, Bobby talked about his mom, his Bonnie for a lot, and it was a ni it just felt like a obviously deeply indebted to psycho. Um, so it just felt, you know, that she was dead, but, you know, still communing with him and it's sort of, and that it might well be Bobby, you know, uh, um, sort of dressing up as his mom, uh, made, made sort of a lot of sense. So yeah, it's, um, it's, uh, yeah, it is absolutely, you know, all the, all the deaths, all the sort of horror sequences have a, oh, a huge debt to sort of horror movie, I guess, I guess some of the deaths, although they're sort of gory like eighties sort of, sort of my favorite sort of death from the, from eighties movies, like, you know, El the street and, and, um, evil, dead and things like that. But I guess they owe as much a death from nineties scream and finalist nation and those sort of movies, which are those sort of, um, well, I guess more final destination, but you know, they are, uh, sort of, uh, punishment deaths rather, you know, they are, can be sort of appropriate to the individual campers. Um, so yeah, they, they, they owe, uh, we owe entire horror Lexi a huge, a huge debt.
Well, certainly how it was a lows more car, I suppose, from, from your guy's perspective, what what's next for KILLER CAMP?
Well, that would just be great to get, be reunited with Bobby and get to come up with some new deaths and, and do do the whole thing again, you know, we, we really want to, we've been streamlining the show every, every time we've got to do it. So, um, you know, we're obviously lessons to take away from season two. So it would be, I feel like we can, you know, there's only so we can only improve, you know, with more, uh, explosive reality, more interesting deaths and, you know, keeping, keeping the comedy high. So, um, yeah, I think it would be, yeah, it would only sort of get better and we've got loads of format points you've tweaked. We wanna sort of make if we get to do a third season. So, um, and I'm, I'd be really in interested what we've never had is, um, for the killer to be revealed, um, in the sort of in those middle boat offs. So I'd be really interested to see how that plays out and have them have the killer sort of revealed day three. And, um, we have a system in play where a sleeper killer would be activated and, you know, they would come into it and just what that would do to the, to a show. So I'm, uh, I'd be quite excited to see, um, how that would scenario would play out.
Yeah well we hope there's more to come. Is there anything else kind of on the forefront or is KILLER CAMP really your kind of passion project at the moment?
Well, Bobby's, I know Bobby's on tour, uh, Bobby doing, what's your, yeah, sure. I'm doing a, a standup, so I'm, I'm usually a standup comedian, so I'm doing a standup tour starting in March across the UK. Uh, we, I think we've announced 15 dates, but there's more coming out soon and, um, yeah, that's about it right now for me than I would love camp council, Bobby, it's an app, you know, it's, he is obviously he is Bobby camp council. Bobby is Bobby, but he's also so much more, uh, so he would be, uh, having seen Bobby a few times seeing standup. It's an, it's a brilliant, it's a brilliant night. Um, um, and for me, it's just, you know, we're, we're waiting to go, um, waiting to see how ke ke does, um, uh, and onto, you know, thinking about new shows and, uh, uh, sort of next on the slate. So yeah, we're excited to come up with the next idea, but also hopefully to work with, uh, work with killer camp again,
Bobby Mair is on tour in the UK from March 1st with tickets available now and all seasons of KILLER CAMP are showing now in ITV Hub.