The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the entertainment industry, as film and TV productions try to get creative while adhering to social distancing guidelines. One of the projects that has risen out of the pandemic is Songbird, an upcoming low-budget thriller produced by Michael Bay that is expected to film in Los Angeles -- but has apparently been hit with a major setback. According to a new report from Variety, the performers union SAG-AFTRA has issued a "do not work" order for Songbird, while telling its members to refuse work on the film.
The order reportedly was sent to On A Lark Productions LLC, saying that the company has failed to complete the signatory process and is therefore not signed to any applicable SAG-AFTRA agreement. The organization warned its members that they could potentially be disciplined if they work on the film.
“As such, SAG-AFTRA members are hereby instructed to withhold any acting services or perform any covered work for this production until further notice from the union,” SAG-AFTRA said in the report. “Please note, accepting employment or rendering services on Songbird; may be considered a violation of Global Rule One. Violating this order may result in disciplinary action in accordance with the SAG-AFTRA Constitution.”
Songbird is described as being "in the spirit of Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield," and takes place two years into a potential future where the coronavirus pandemic "has not gone away". As lockdowns are reinstated and the virus continues to mutate, the characters of the film bein to focus on a government conspiracy and widespread paranoia. A previous report indicated that although the project is a found-footage movie, its cast of actors would never be in the room together during filming. The production would adhere to strict social distancing measures with the scenes shot after the crew has prepared the shot and left the room. In addition, they say there would be no scenes with actors "face to face," noting that they don't intend for this to be like the "all on a computer screen" thriller, Searching.
The film is directed by Adam Mason (Hulu's Into the Dark), who co-wrote the script with Simon Boyes.
It's unclear how SAG-AFTRA's order against Songbird will ultimately affect the movie, especially as no actors have officially been cast for the film. This hurdle is just the latest logistical problem that has impacted film and TV sets amid the pandemic, even as some productions are getting ready to restart filming in places like Vancouver, the UK, and New Zealand.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.