The feature film “Songbird” began production in Los Angeles today, becoming the first motion picture to begin filming there since the City of Angels went into lockdown in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Michael Bay-produced film, described as a “pandemic thriller,” stars Bradley Whitford, Jenna Ortega, Demi Moore, Craig Robinson, Paul Walter Hauser, and Peter Stormare.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Songbird” is “set two years in the future, when a virus vaccine remains elusive,” and is one of the first upcoming projects to use the ongoing pandemic as part of its storyline.
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“Finding a safe and practical way back into production has not been easy, however, our partnership with the guilds and unions has been a true testament to our great Hollywood community,” producer Adam Goodman said in a statement to ET Canada. “Throughout the process they were awesome partners at finding a way to get their members working again, but always making safety and welfare the first priority. As artists, we need to keep telling stories, and times like these must be documented.”
As producer Bay told THR, filming under the current circumstances is anything but business as usual.
“We worked out the safety issues months ago,” said Bay, director of such big-budget blockbusters as “Transformers” and “Armageddon”.
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According to Bay, “We are literally going to be the first film shooting in L.A. And we have a kind of special sauce with how we’re doing it where there’s zero contact.”
ICM agent Jessica Lacy, who’s in charge of selling the film to distributors, elaborated.
“It is very much actors on their own — nobody is interacting quite in the same manner in which a normal production would function,” she said. “It’s obviously timely and also terrifying.”
The film had previously been hit with a stop-work order from SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents screen actors, instructing the film’s cast to “to withhold any acting services or perform any covered work for this production until further notice from the union.”
However, that was quickly rescinded, with actors subsequently told they were free to begin work on the film.
As Bay told THR, “We resolved [the latest issue with the unions] over the weekend. I don’t even think it was a safety issue. It was a money thing.”