‘Homemade’: Capturing Slices of Life in the New Normal
The rapid rate of casualties, deteriorating patients, and recurring waves of infections summing into a whopping 14 million confirmed cases worldwide is living proof that the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is here to stay. The consequences of the worsening situation will put a heavy blow on the operations and further disrupt industries that profoundly rely on confined spaces and close human contact and interaction such as Hollywood.
When asked about the future of the entertainment industry, legendary filmmaker Steven Soderbergh articulated that the kind of content and stories we will be seeing in the next few months and possibly years would most likely incorporate experiences during the lockdown and protest movement. Not to mention, the prospect of utilizing our imagination and readily available resources such as our smartphones to capture slices of life and create compelling stories. For most artists and creatives, there truly is opportunity in uncertainty, and the show must go on.
The Return of Home Videos
Renowned filmmakers Pablo Larrain, Juan de Dios Larrain, and Lorenzo Mieli brought to life an Italian-Chilean anthology series distributed by Netflix entitled Homemade (2020), which takes us on a unique virtual journey around the world to understand how people coming from all walks of life are coping with the pandemic, their new reality, and capturing humanity in all its glory. It puts a new spin to home videos but preserves its powerful raw, authentic, and intimate aspects. It instills a sense of security that we are not alone in this struggle.
Homemade (2020) features short films personally written, directed, produced, and shot by 17 award-winning filmmakers such as Paolo Sorrentino, Pablo Larrain, Ladj Ly, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kristen Stewart, Rachel Morrison and more. The anthology serves as a beacon of hope not just to its audience but also to filmmakers who are struggling to find an outlet to express their artistic side during this uncertain time. These ingenious filmmakers opened the doors to their personal lives with their family and friends, romantic relationships, dreams, and visions. They have proven that there are no boundaries to creativity and it is possible to create high-quality and memorable masterpieces with the limited resources you have, and most importantly, giving us a positive glimpse of the future of filmmaking.
While there’s no one way to watch the films, I found it best to follow its sequence as the progression of stories from drama to sci-fi to musical to documentary takes you on a whirlwind of emotions that wonderfully wraps on a high note. The stories range from quirky miniature figures of the Pope and Queen Elizabeth II spending time together dancing, playing, and skinny-dipping while quarantined in Italy; an elderly man in a nursing home reconnecting and confessing his love to his ex-girlfriends via video conference; a man who has gone insane after becoming friends with his own hallucinations; a drone flying over a neighborhood showing the socio-economic differences and impact of the lockdown in France; a mother trying to let her children understand the pandemic; a little girl stuck in her father’s office building an imaginary world with her unicorn; a man isolating in Mexico making his mother’s dumplings; to biking around the eerily quiet and empty streets of Los Angeles.
Adapting to the New Normal
COVID-19 may have turned our world upside down, but it doesn’t mean it has to stop. Since the inception of short-form or snackable content popularized by media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and the now-defunct Vine, it gave people an avenue to express their creativity and share compelling stories under a minute at a push of the button.
Today, studios and production companies are fighting to find ways to resume filming while abiding by strict safety protocols to be followed on set. Aside from the demands of filming, a rigorous set of measures such as periodic testing of cast and crew, use of face masks, social distancing of at least 6 feet apart, frequent disinfection of tools, facilities, and sets, the prohibition of filming scenes with a large crowd, hand washing and sanitizing, actors not allowed to talk during make-up sessions, no buffets and communal services among others must be sternly observed. In fact, Warner Bros. in Europe is taking security up a notch by launching a system in which cast and crew could anonymously report safety violations and malpractices.
We could also expect a surge in films directly shot on computer cameras and social media
Another alternative that could be adapted, although sometimes costly, could be using virtual or digital technology to create films. The successful use of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) in hit films such as Avatar (2009), Gravity (2013), Jungle Book (2016), and The Lion King (2019) offers a promising solution to limiting people on set and working remotely as much as possible. Furthermore, we could also expect a surge in films directly shot on computer cameras and social media as seen on thrillers such as Unfriended (2014) and Searching (2018).
Since this pandemic is far from over, we should keep striving to find innovative ways to keep art alive. The visionaries behind Homemade (2020) have paved the way for artists who are looking to get back into the creative hustle and bustle and instilled a new sense of hope and optimism for the future.