During a time when the coronavirus pandemic is ravaging every part of our lives, turning normal activities into something out of a Hollywood thriller, what I’m craving from my entertainment right now is… a Hollywood thriller literally about the coronavirus pandemic? Hmm. Well. Producer Michael Bay may not have read the room exactly correct, but he and his filmmaking team certainly did explode the room with Songbird, a film about the pandemic, made during the pandemic. And thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we’ve got the first images here.
The film, from director Adam Mason (Into the Dark), takes place in a 2024 where our current virus has mutated into COVID-23 (whee!), 50% of folks infected die (wahoo!), and the world is forced into stringent lockdown camps (super chill and fun!). It stars Riverdale‘s KJ Apa as a frontline courier immune from the virus, and Descendants‘ Sofia Carson as the woman he falls in love with while trying to figure out how to fight for humanity. The impressive ensemble cast is rounded out by Alexandra Daddario, Bradley Whitford, Craig Robinson, Demi Moore, and Paul Walter Hauser.
The initial idea for Songbird came from Mason and his writing partner Simon Boyes‘ desire to quickly shoot an iPhone film project while stuck in lockdown — but when folks like Michael Bay climb aboard as a producer, you ditch the iPhone and go for something grander quickly. Somehow, they managed to shoot the entire film during a global pandemic in just 17 days, utilizing a small, segmented crew and frequent testing. Mason wasn’t intimidated by the breakneck, guerilla approach: “I normally do the lighting and the camera work myself. So, I’m used to being very close to the actors and filming in this very intimate way that was perfectly suited to filming during the rules and regulations of the lockdown. I found it incredibly liberating because everyone was just so happy to be involved. All the normal egos that go into making a movie, that kind of bullshit didn’t exist with this project.” Apa, for his part, agreed, saying “the way we shot was every actor’s dream.’
And while many real life elements of horror infected their way into the script (sorry), Mason made sure the core of the story remained rooted in love. “It’s a dystopian, scary world, but it’s a romantic movie about two people who want to be together, but they can’t. It’s Romeo and Juliet, but they’re separated by her front door and by the virus.” Carson agreed, giving the film just the right spin to actually maybe make me want to engage with this film: “Even though [her character has] lost everything, she is a warrior of hope. She represents this young generation of fearless men and women who are holding onto hope and who are the real true leaders, who will lead us into the future… In our never-ending dark night, the songbird sings a song of hope.”
Songbird currently does not have a release date from STXfilms. Check out the first images below. For more on what Bay’s up to, here’s the intel on Armored.