Can you make a comedy set during COVID-19? Recovery takes the idea for a drive

The trailer for Recovery, which enjoyed its world premiere at SXSW 2021.

The second edition of South by Southwest to take place in the middle of our in-progress pandemic just wrapped. Maybe this should’ve been obvious beforehand—since everyone from Michael Bay to Netflix rolled out shot-in-quarantine films in recent months—but the era of COVID-19 films is clearly upon us, before the era of COVID-19 has subsided even a tad. Of the 75 feature-length films on the SXSW Online 2021 schedule, more than a tenth (at least eight) explicitly involve COVID-19.

Recovery is not a comedy about COVID-19; it’s a buddy comedy written by and starring actors Mallory Everton and Whitney Call. These first-time filmmakers use COVID-19 as their film’s setting in the same way that Harold and Kumar uses an insanely high night. During a panel on the film’s creation, in fact, co-director Stephen Meek said the team set out to make a road movie, taking a lot of inspiration from British films Locke and The Trip. That format, after all, could theoretically be executed safely and quickly in the middle of a global health crisis. (Apparently, roughly 20 pages of the script were all filmed on the same road.)

“This was during the time when we all were still really afraid to open our doors and breathe outside,” Call said. “It wasn’t that far after March 2020 that we made the March 2020 movie—it was June when we started writing it.”

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