Chandler director makes COVID-19 pandemic movie - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler director makes COVID-19 pandemic movie

April 27th, 2020 development
Chandler director makes COVID-19 pandemic movie

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

It’s almost lucky Mitesh Patel finished shooting his movie around Chandler in less than eight days.

If the director had gone over schedule by no more than a day, then Patel and his crew would have been in violation of the stay-at-home order Gov. Doug Ducey issued on March 30 to stop the spread of COVID-19.   

Filmmaking was notably not on Ducey’s list of “essential” services immune to his shutdown order, so Patel knew he’d have to race against the clock in order to wrap up his production.

Patel’s new film, “Anti-Coronavirus,” is a medical drama about a couple who return from a trip in Italy and unknowingly spread the COVID-19 virus to their friends and family.

With scenes showing actors in hazmat suits and facemasks, the film almost appears as if Patel was mimicking footage seen on the daily news as the COVID-19 pandemic has gradually unfolded these last few months.

Also the president, founder and organizer of the Chandler International Film Festival, Patel wrote the script in a week and quickly assembled a small crew to shoot it quickly.   

His productions typically take a couple months to complete, so shooting a film in a fraction of that time posed a daunting challenge. Actors scrambled to memorize lines, shooting locations around Chandler had to be secured quickly – and no more than 10 crew members could be near each other at one time.

The film had to be shot in no more than a week, Patel explained, because they knew the government could shut everything down at any moment.   

“We were afraid that we might have to stop the production so we were rushing to finish it,” he said.

Thankfully, the last scene was shot the day before Ducey handed down his executive order.

Patel thinks the end result is an uplifting story about a subject that’s interrupted everyone’s daily lives.

“It’s telling the story of what’s going on around the world, but it’s bringing something to inspire audiences,” Patel said.

“Anti-Coronavirus” is unlike the two previous films that Patel has directed in recent years. While his other projects have delved more into the horror genre, Patel’s latest film is more heartfelt and emotional.

Today’s current events are already frightening and unpredictable, Patel said, there’s no need to make COVID-19 more horrific through film.

“It’s better to give some positive message to everyone,” he said.

The 70-minute film has both its lighter and darker moments with the protagonists regularly having to deal with the public backlash of bringing a contagious virus to their community.

But the characters still encounter bizarre scenarios that almost come off as comedic – like fighting toilet paper with customers inside a grocery store.

One of Patel’s favorite scenes involves the family angrily confronting a nosy reporter trying to ask too many questions about their condition. The audience sees the family almost reach a breaking point at that moment, he said, and it makes for a riveting moment.

The film’s cast of local actors include Keith Lopez, Tina Marie Nigro, Courtney Asher, John Carr, Harper Wasensky, and Bali Bare.    

Patel has been heavily immersed in the Valley’s film community since relocating from Los Angeles to Chandler a few years ago. He helped to boost the city’s presence in the movie market by putting on the annual Chandler International Film Festival, where he gets the chance to invite unknown filmmakers to showcase their work for the local community.

Though it was shot quickly and on a small budget, Patel thinks “Anti-Coronavirus” will appeal to audiences looking to make sense of the chaotic pandemic.

“I think we came up with something really good in just a week,” said.

The film should be available to stream online by the end of April.