‘I had this image of my husband making love to a tree’: directors on filming shorts for Netflix’s Homemade

‘I had this image of my husband making love to a tree’: directors on filming shorts for Netflix’s Homemade

July 3, 2020

Paolo Sorrentino, Pablo Larraín, Maggie Gyllenhaal and other film-makers on the restrictions, inspirations and creative solutions to shooting in lockdown

“Shall we take a tour of the Vatican?” the Pope asks the Queen. Except his holiness and her majesty are not actually in the Vatican, they are in the home of the renowned Italian film-maker Paolo Sorrentino. And they’re not actually people; they are little figurines with waving hands, such as you would buy in a souvenir shop. Sorrentino’s bookshelves double for the Vatican library, plant pots for its gardens, the underside of a chair for a grand hall. Then the Dude from the Big Lebowski pops up and tells them there’s a lockdown. “Oh, that’s quite all right,” replies the Queen. “I’ve been in lockdown for the past 94 years.”

It is a bit of a departure from Sorrentino’s usual sumptuous works such as The Great Beauty or his HBO series The New Pope (which is set in a considerably more lifelike replica Vatican). But this is what film-making looks like under lockdown. Sorrentino shot the film on his iPhone, then got actors Javier Cámara and Olivia Williams to do the voiceovers. “It was a sort of return to the beginning of my life as a director,” he says. “When I was very young, I did exactly this kind of stuff: making movies alone at home with a VHS camera.” The Pope and Queen figurines usually sit on his desk. “They are both people who have lived their whole lives in lockdown,” he says, “so it was easy to tell a story of solitude, of melancholy between them.”

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