There are timely films and then there’s foreshadowing. Back in 2015, Kane Guglielmi partnered with writer John Ratchford to develop a script about a man who contracts a deadly virus and is put under quarantine by the authorities to stop him from spreading disease. The film was called “Cooped Up,” a lighthearted comedy.
Charles Cottier, who was making his feature film debut, plays wrestler Jake Ridge, who is cooped up in quarantine after coming into contact with a potentially fatal virus. He’s forced to isolate and has frequent temperature checks when nurse Emily (Kathryn Beck) visits him.
Guglielmi, an-editor-turned-director turned post-production supervisor, released the film in Australia back in 2016 but couldn’t get it released anywhere else — until coronavirus forced people around the world into quarantine. Suddenly, the comedy became relevant and Crackle bought the film, which can now be streamed on its platform.
It’s like you foreshadowed this whole coronavirus. When did you start working on the story?
We started working on it in early 2015.
You shoot a movie about a pandemic. It’s almost like you had a prophecy — so what inspired this script?
I’ve read comments where people said it was another version of “Contagion,” but I’ve never seen the film. I know it’s about a pandemic outbreak. This is a very contained story about two people, and it explores the environment of being confined in your home. I didn’t have a large budget to work with and that was what pushed us creatively. We were looking for something that was ahead of its time and something people hadn’t seen.
Someone had mentioned to our writer this thing about an individual coming into contact with deadly viruses and the authorities can force individuals to be quarantined in their homes. I thought it was a brilliant idea. I have never seen any movies on the subject. And I still haven’t seen “Contagion.” This is why I chose to make the film, because in my mind I’d never seen anything like it before.
How did you get all the symptoms right and the disease almost spot on to coronavirus?
“Our virus” originated from North Africa, not China — however, the parallels are that it was a form of coronavirus, respiratory in nature, believed to have been transmitted from animals to humans (specifically bats, chimps and camels), but with a much higher fatality rate. Same symptoms and behaviors as coronavirus. We consulted an expert in virology for the technical knowledge of the subject, along with the appropriate language for the epidemiologist character.
Why did the movie take so long to get released in the U.S.?
The film was only released in Australia before this and back in 2016 when we released it, it was a success over there.
What got us across the line was that people found it to be such a far-fetched concept and because of what happened, this pandemic, people realized it wasn’t so far fetched after all.
How did you form the character Jake and where did you find Charles to play this complex guy, who isn’t the best person when we first meet him?
Jake can be a little bit difficult to swallow in the beginning, especially during the first 20 minutes. We eventually get to see the real Jake, who is this sweet and sincere guy underneath all of that. We first met on a series (“Home and Away,” the Australian soap opera) back in 2011 and I saw that he had this great range. I thought to myself when I had the opportunity, I’d love to give him a chance to prove himself. So, when I did this, he was the first person I cast.
You directed, produced, and edited the film, and developed the idea with John.
As far as post-production, that’s how I started in the industry as a self-taught editor. I had always planned on being the editing, but I ended up doing 100% of the post-production myself. It wasn’t the plan, but we had to finish the film and I did it myself or we’d have to wait until we could afford to pay other crew people. We had invested quite a lot, not just in terms of finance, but also we’ve taken a lot of risks. So, I needed to make sure that I turned out a product sooner than later.
Would you be interested in doing a sequel?
There has been talk of a sequel, however, it’s not something I’m interested in pursuing. It’s old news now and would merely be capitalizing off something very familiar.