Colombian director films quarantine comedy with mobile phones

BOGOTA • There are no lights, cameras, dressing rooms or the hundreds of people who usually crowd a film shoot.

There is just a mobile phone, a tripod, a bathroom and "Action!"

Colombian director Harold Trompetero, who has directed 21 films and produced another 30, is now tackling an unusual project amid a nationwide coronavirus quarantine that has his actors stuck at home.

The new movie, The Bathroom, is filmed on phones, with actors' family members helping with camera work, make-up and costuming as Trompetero, 49, gives instructions via video chats.

"When we were writing the script, I came across a quote by (English naturalist) Charles Darwin that, in the evolution of the species, it wasn't the most intelligent or the strongest who survived, but the ones who adapted best," he said.

"For a long time, we'll need to adapt ourselves to new ways of doing things under these circumstances. If not, we will drown."

The movie is a comedy about a group of university friends who are still in touch 10 years later when the quarantine is declared and secrets come to light.

But why the bathroom?

"We started thinking the privacy of home starts to lose personal privacy under quarantine, you don't have any space to yourself," Trompetero said.

"The bathroom is the only space left in lots of homes where you can be by yourself for five minutes of solitude."

Actress Marcela Carvajal said she cried when Trompetero rang, asking her to star.

"I cried because I thought I wasn't going to return to acting for a long, long time. Theatres are closed, TV channels are closed," she said. "It's a dream to make a film in this era."

Carvajal's husband helps her film and is making his debut as an actor in The Bathroom.

She said she is more afraid of the changes the coronavirus will bring than she is of getting sick. "I'm not so scared of the illness, but am about what will happen with certain traditions in future - like meeting in person, like live shows."

Cinemas, theatres and other public events have been shuttered in Colombia since March and are unlikely to reopen any time soon.

"This year looked really good, I had projects all year," said Biassini Segura, another actor in the film, who said he is living off his savings. "In the end, life goes on, but with a mask and gloves."

The movie will be released in August.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2020, with the headline 'Colombian director films quarantine comedy with mobile phones'. Subscribe