Wolfhard and Bryk, who previously co-starred together in 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife,' premiered 'Hell of a Party' at the Toronto International Film Festival
Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk make their joint directorial debut with the new throwback teen-horror Hell of a Summer — just don't call the close friends a "collective."
"We're not so into labels," says Bryk, 23, as Wolfhard, 20, adds, "We're not a monogamy."
The pair, who previously co-starred together in Ghostbusters: Afterlife and When You Finish Saving the World, recently premiered Hell of a Summer, which they also co-wrote, at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"This isn't your straight-up summer-camp slasher film, because as much as it does lean into some of the tropes, it also doesn't in a lot of other ways," says Bryk. "We really wanted to make, first and foremost, a team comedy that gets interrupted by a killer."
While the two might one day branch out to direct their own films, Wolfhard sees them as "part of a team of young people that will continue to make cool stuff." He adds, "That is the hope."
Below, Wolfhard and Bryk tell PEOPLE about collaborating together, being taken seriously as young filmmakers and more.
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PEOPLE: Had you met before first working together?
Bryk: We had actually met on the street in Kensington Market in Toronto. I knew that Finn was a huge fan of these comedians, Jake and Amir, who were on CollegeHumor. I grew up and those guys were, they were my entire sense of humor.
Bryk: And me and my brother and all my friendships were based off of this collective love of Jake and Amir. I would always see Finn commenting on their posts. Then I had followed him on Instagram and he kept posting about all these movies that I loved. I just remember thinking, "If I ever did meet this guy, we'd really get along." Then I just bumped into him in the street and I was like, "Hey, man, I hate to do this..." And truly, I did hate to do it. But I was like, "I know that you're a fan of Jake and Amir." Then we just chatted for a brief moment. I was kind of like, "Oh, that was cool." I was in film school and I was like, "I'm going to start acting." I went out for stuff and I happened to get a small part in Ghostbusters, and then we sat across from each other at the table. He was like, "Do I know you?" Meanwhile, it was a year or more ago that we had met for two minutes. It's like, "Not really. We kind of met for one second." "Dude, you're the Jake and Amir kid. You're the Jake and Amir kid." So right away we knew—
Wolfhard: It was pretty immediate.
Bryk: We like the same stuff. And we both had the same goal in mind. We wanted to write a film together. And we wanted to write films that were fun ensemble teen comedies and we were just like, "Let's just try writing something together." And yeah, it worked out!
Collaborating can be a tricky thing though. Was it easy for you two?
Bryk: It really was. I'd never written with someone else before. And that really unlocked something in terms of just speed and ease of writing, because I really have the tendency to beat myself up a lot during the writing process. Not even being negative about something, but just being too precious with it. We wrote the first draft in two weeks and it was almost 70 pages. It was crazy. It was absurd and crazy. But a lot of the center of the film is still there.
Wolfhard: The painful part was when you have to... It's like, okay, yeah. Now it's funny to us. It's like, all right, now we have to send it to people in Hollywood and subscribe a little bit to... You have to subscribe to the machine of Hollywood in order to make a film. And that's the hard part, is introducing it to other eyes and a lot of people that don't necessarily understand it or whatever. When you're young, it's pretty ... For any age, when you're giving your work to someone, it can be discouraging. That was the hard part, I think. But then it was amazing too.
Did people in Hollywood not take you guys seriously given your ages?
Bryk: I think it really depends on who we were talking to. I wanted to say that people that we ended up working with, it was the opposite. Those people were the ones who immediately treated us like, not even adult but just appreciated the film for what it was. Sometimes you'll just talk to somebody or send it to somebody that maybe you don't know so well. There is a little bit of that, "Okay, kids," feeling. And, again, that's understandable.
We're young. We know how we come across. And we know that especially as actors. We know it's an insane thing that we got to make a film. And it wouldn't have happened if not for the fact that Finn has such an in with Hollywood already. But that doesn't mean that we didn't want people to take us seriously.
Wolfhard: There's obviously a self-consciousness there of just being like, "All right, I'll be taking meetings. Me and Billy will be taking meetings. I know why." Because they know me as a young actor from Stranger Things and maybe that's all they want. And then you have that thought in your head of just, yeah, having this amazing privilege of getting in the door.
Bryk: Some of the people hadn't read the script. It was a little bit like, "Oh, so this..." But again, that's the game. I feel like no matter what had to happen, it led to getting to make the movie. It was the greatest experience and privilege and honor of my life.
Wolfhard: Yeah. Of my life as well.
Have either of you even been to summer camp?
Wolfhard: No. I had a very unusual ... actually, I had a pretty normal childhood. As normal as a child actor, I think, could have. My mom grew up going to summer camp. And I went to day summer camp, so never sleepaway camp. I tried to go to sleepaway camp. I didn't want to go alone so I would ask friends to go with me and none of them ever wanted to go. But I visited my mom's camp before and stuff.
Bryk: This was us, I don't know, going back and fulfilling just some weird—
Wolfhard: Childhood dream. Yeah, definitely. Definitely.
Bryk: Neither of us really went to camp. I went to a basketball sleepaway camp for a week and it didn't go so well. I said this, but my last name is Bryk, which just basically means to miss horribly in basketball on a shot. So I wasn't really cut out for basketball camp. But I liked it. I wasn't a child actor, but just being a young actor on set, it feels like summer camp. And we met on set. We're hanging out with all these young people that we don't know so well, and everyone's thrown into this thing together and there's so much excitement and it felt like camp to us.
I feel like I have been to summer camp now because of the experience of shooting on the camp. We slept there one night and then didn't sleep there ever again, but we were sleeping in this crazy fishing lodge 30 minutes away. Everybody was together and it felt like going to camp, but you're also making a movie and you're also working. It was an awesome experience.
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