Cooped Up is a quirky romantic-comedy that follows a bitter semi-professional wrestler named Jake. When Jake comes into contact with a deadly coronavirus, he is quarantined to his family home for 21 days. His only connection to the outside world is the female medic, Emily, who checks on his symptoms daily. The film was initially released in 2016 and launched in May 2020 in the U.S. on Crackle.
For director Kane Guglielmi, Cooped Up was his feature-length directorial debut. Cooped Up was an incredible experience for Kane, and he talked to HollywoodLife about why he decided to direct this film. “After a few projects that I developed, which had gotten very close to getting made and then didn’t get made because of other people, I decided to make something myself that I had 100 percent control of and knew that I could turn out a finished product,” Kane told HollywoodLife. “You may or may not know, in our industry, a lot of people like to talk about what they’re doing and very little actually gets done. I don’t really like that aspect of the industry. Let’s not talk so much about what I might be doing, let’s talk about what we’re actually doing. As you may already know, I financed the film myself. Naturally, we had a limited amount of money to make something, so we had to choose something that worked within the parameters of a budget. This was an idea that I liked, that I hadn’t seen before, and we were able to make it really contained from the small cost. Financially, it made sense, but also from a perspective of making something unique that people hadn’t seen before, that was the ultimate goal for me.”
When the movie was initially released in 2016, Kane obviously had no idea that the coronavirus pandemic would happen just 4 years later. Experiencing quarantine similarly to Jake has been surreal, to say the least. “I didn’t think it was ever going to be a situation that we would be faced with,” Kane said. “Despite the nature of the film being a comedy, it’s not something that I see any humor about in the current situation. I definitely didn’t anticipate the reality of it 4 years later.”
Kane revealed that “the confinements of what we had financially actually pushed us further and challenged us to try and do something different.” The movie was filmed in a “very tiny and quirky house” in the Blue Mountains of Australia that was actually right next door to the house that Kane sold to finance the Cooped Up. “I would arrive on set each day and see my beautiful home that was basically a dream home and look up to this tiny, little, quirky home while filming this movie about a bizarre subject that people have never heard of. It was quite a bizarre experience to go through each night knowing what I’d sacrificed to make this film,” Kane continued.
Charles Cottier and Kathryn Beck star as Jake and Emily. Their chemistry is essential to this film, and they knocked it out of the park. Kane had previously worked with Charles on the Australian soap Home and Away. “There’s a lot of people on that show that had talent, but Charles for me stood out because he had something about him,” Kane said. “I felt like that series in Australia wasn’t really giving him the opportunity to show his full potential, but I knew that it was there. I thought at some point I would love to give this guy an opportunity to star in his own film. We jumped forward 5 years, and we were friends. We specifically developed this character for him. I knew that he could pull it off because [Jake] can be a really immature person, but he has a lot of heart, and [Charles] can pull off drama really well. I would never have considered anyone else but Charles.”
Kane hadn’t worked with Kathryn prior to Cooped Up. Kane revealed that Kathryn and Charles actually didn’t get to do an in-person chemistry read. I have to say that it was probably a little bit of luck in that because, naturally, I can’t take credit for everything. But I mean, you just go with your gut instinct, and at the end of the day, I think luck was on my side for that choice.”