An established filmmaker in his native Chile, Nicolas Lopez makes his feature film debut in a Mexican production with the comedy Do it Like an Hombre. The film follows two couples—a married pair with a baby on the way, and another engaged to be married—whose lives are turned upside down after a surprising admission. Friendships are tested after the bride-to-be discovers her fiance is gay, testing the bounds of friendship within the group. BOXOFFICE spoke to Lopez to get a better sense of how he wanted to tackle the comedy, which has already broken box office records in Mexico
This is your first Mexican feature, how did you settle on working with that country for this title?
This is my first Mexican movie. The others I’ve done have been either in the U.S. or Chile. I had the idea of making this movie and they gave me all the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I was worried, mainly because of the subject matter, that this could be the kind of movie that they would be scared to make—but it was the complete opposite experience. Videocine and Televisa really loved the project and we were able to shoot the movie really quickly—from the idea to shooting the film it was like four months. We did it like hombres!
You wanted to be careful in tackling the subject matter, was there anything you wanted to avoid in production or something you wanted to focus on in making the film?
In Latin America, if you’re over 30, there’s a big chance you’ve been around homophobia and these machismo conceptions of masculinity. Even if you don’t think you do, you’ve been exposed to that. Most of the movies that come from Latin America, or even from the U.S., often have a cliche of a gay character. Almost like a parody of what it’s like to be gay. The gay best friend that knows everything about fishing—that character. That has been how gay people have been portrayed in mainstream media in Latin America over the last couple of decades. I wanted to make a movie about people that think it’s “funny” to be gay. It’s a risky movie, basically making a movie with a protagonist that people aren’t going to like. But it’s not about liking a guy that has these preconceptions about being gay, you can laugh at him, but you have to understand that in a way the guy is a monster. He is a victim of his education. If you were born in the ‘80s in Latin America, it wasn’t strange to grow up hearing that “boy’s don’t cry” and that certain colors aren’t for men. Those attitudes come from that education. So I thought it would be very interesting to show that, and it’s something that millennials in Latin America don’t have to deal with as much today.
The film is a runaway hit in Mexico, the highest grossing film of the year so far. What has the reception been like over there? Do you think it’s been able to start a conversation?
I think all of us that work in the media live in a lie, where we think that we’re not part of what’s going on right now. But that’s simply not true. We live in a bubble—in the bubble of L.A., having a friend that comes out of the closet maybe isn’t a big deal..but that’s not the case in most places. That was the conversation people were having in Mexico, where the initial reception was basically dismissed by members of the media who didn’t see the subject matter as a big deal. I was frustrated, because these things happen and they happen a lot. It’s hard to have people change the way they talk or behave about these issues. But the power of laughter, of being able to say things in a comedy, is special because it lets people sit back and realize where they’re making mistakes while they laugh. It’s not only something that happens in Latin America, but all over the world. We might think we live in this open, progressive society but in reality that “society” is just a bubble that the media creates. In reality, I think we live in much darker times when it comes to talking about this stuff.
How much of a transition was it to shoot this film in the Mexican system?
I don’t know how we’ve done it, but most of the movies I’ve done have been co-productions with my company that we end up shooting in Chile. This is a movie that’s set in Mexico but shot in Chile. We did the same with Knock Knock, set in the L.A. but shot in Chile, and The Green Inferno. So we’ve always had the same family on my films; I’ve always worked with the same DP, producer, and production partners, so this wasn’t a big switch. What was amazing, though, was that after making movies in the U.S., where there’s a part of the process that is difficult to be involved in as a filmmaker—releasing the movie and marketing campaign around the film. Sin Filtro was a movie I shot in 13 days, inside my house, at the park around the corner, very local. And it was a big success at the box office, it’s a movie we’re remaking in several countries. We used that same mentality on this film.