Deer Camp '86 recently kicked off its limited theatrical release and I had a chance to catch up with one of the film's stars, Noah LaLonde, about his role in the retro horror film. Read on to learn about his on-set experience, the film's mission to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous people, and more:

How did you first get involved in DEER CAMP '86 and why was this a project you wanted to be a part of? 

I first got involved with Deer Camp ’86 in a decently unexpected way. In the midst of  the pandemic, in September 2020, I got a message from an acting teacher I had worked with in the past. He sent me an e-mail to say hello and send his best, and also attached a casting call that he had found on Facebook. Said he thought of me for the role. I suppose he had a good instinct…

I think the short description of the character was something I definitely resonated with  off the bat. A good guy who may have lost his way, looking for his old-self, post break up. Add that resonating with the reality of life for a struggling actor in Detroit during a global pandemic…

And upon first read of the script, I felt like it could be a ton of fun. A trip up north, out of the craziness of the world, creating something with some fellow actors… seemed like a dream scenario. It ended up being even better than I could have hoped.

With this being an 80s inspired horror film, did you watch any 80s horror movies to prepare for the role? 

Honestly, I remember the timeline being pretty quick for everything. Maybe less than  two weeks between getting the part and filming beginning. So, I think I focused a bit more on spending time with the script. I might have watched The Shining around that time… but it was a while ago, so I can’t say for sure whether that watch was for business or pleasure. Either way, it lived in me somewhere.

Can you talk about your experience on-set? Do you have a favorite on-set memory?

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, at the time we shot, I didn’t have a ton of experience in  “on-set” environments. Most of my resume included locally shot short films. I hadn’t ever been on location for more than a day shoot.

So, this whole process was kind of a dream. Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was just taking a trip up north with friends or family. Just getting away from the  daily routine and environment to find some serenity and relaxation. So, all of that being the first part of this… a solo drive four hours north of home, finally  getting to do the thing I had been chasing. It set the tone for the whole experience.

Due to the nature of the shoot, lower budget and during the pandemic, we had a pretty small crew. (note: I only learned this after the completion of the project and going onto other sets, because I was truly amazed by all the talented people surrounding me at  every turn. It felt massive in the moment. A testament to the talent.) The small crew lent itself to quickly getting to know everyone. And this was a passionate and wonderful group that I find myself lucky to be reunited with every chance I get. It felt like a big family from day one. And to get to work towards the same goal as a group was just a joy, the entire time we were together.

There are too many on-set memories to call one the best, but there’s one that I remember fondly I’ll share. Towards the end of the shoot, we wrapped pretty late one day. Before we went back to the hotel, we were just hanging out, all together by the  bonfire. Recapping the day, reflecting on what had gotten us there, what was to come.  It’s simple, but by that time, it was nice to just finish a long day of work and relax with the same people who were by your side for the whole ride.

This film has an important message and brings awareness to indigenous women who go missing across the country. Can you share your reaction as you became more aware of this through working on the movie? 

Absolutely. As fun as I think this movie is, and as fun as it was to film, I can’t speak too long about it without mentioning this message, because it is now, and was, so important to this process. That message being the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and people (MMIWP). Through work with our cultural advisors and guidance from the local Gun Lake and Little River Tribes, it feels very special to have worked on this project, knowing that the inspiration came from a devastating issue that has impacted the indigenous community for far too long. And then further, to know that members of these tribes had a hand in crafting important elements of the story and characters, is truly special. So, for that, I give enormous thanks to everyone that was a part of this film, for allowing me to be a part of it and educating myself on an issue that I didn’t have nearly enough awareness of, prior to filming.

And since then, being able to have conversations with indigenous women and hearing their first-hand accounts of these tragedies, makes me feel honored to be a part of any and all awareness efforts. It has made me feel a part of something far larger than myself or the film. But instead, the honor lies in being one very small part in a far larger conversation.

I would urge anyone reading this, or watching the film, to take some time to  understand these issues, and continue to grow and spread awareness of the crisis that is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People.

Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with our readers? Where can they keep up with you on social media? 

There are a lot of exciting developments on my end. First, I’m hoping to start soon on filming of season two of My Life With The Walter Boys – on Netflix if you missed the first season. After that… time will tell. And all the other updates on me are best found on my Instagram, @noahlalalalonde !

Appreciate everyone taking the time with me today… it’s always an honor to share in conversation, especially about art, that I am OH SO lucky enough to be a part of. Cheers!