In the terrifying thriller Songbird , the COVID-23 virus has mutated, and the world is in its fourth year of lockdown. Infected Americans are ripped from their homes and forced into quarantine camps known as Q Zones, from which there is no escape, as a few brave souls fight back against the forces of oppression. Lockdowns are now mandatory, curfews, food shortages, and broken supply chains are a fact of life.
Amid this dystopian landscape, a fearless courier, Nico (KJ Apa), who is immune to the deadly pathogen, finds hope and love with Sara (Sofia Carson), though her lockdown prohibits them from physical contact. When Sara is believed to have become infected, Nico races desperately across the barren streets of Los Angeles in search of the only thing that can save her from imprisonment … or worse.
The first feature film to be made during COVID-19 in Los Angeles, and about the pandemic itself, Songbird also stars Bradley Whitford and Demi Moore as a wealthy couple who may hold the key to Nico’s mission; Alexandra Daddario as a singer enmeshed in a messy and forbidden affair; Paul Walter Hauser as a disabled veteran whose best friend – a drone named Max – is his eyes and ears to a world that has left him behind; Craig Robinson as Nico’s boss; and Peter Stormare as the corrupt head of the city’s “sanitation” department, which seizes those infected and transports them to the Q-Zone.
Songbird is a scary, hypothetical look into our future. The film depicts increasing isolation, militarized enforcement, fear and loss. It also champions values like love, courage, bravery and compassion. Its ultimate message is one of human redemption and hope.
At the core of the movie is a love story about two people who have been isolated for a long time and have a desire to be together but cannot be in physical contact. In the midst of all of the chaos, grief, sadness and hardship brought by the virus and lockdowns, there’s a bright light; there’s love and there’s anything that you would do for love and for that hope. “The story takes what our world is going through right now, and even more so in the theme that there’s always hope. And with love, anyone can prevail.
It ups the ante of the conventional Romeo and Juliet love story. Instead of feuding families, the star-crossed protagonists must battle a global pandemic amidst the consequences of a sweeping contagion.
In the movie there’s, Lester, the owner of a fulfillment operation that supplies both necessary and luxury items to those who can afford them.
The Koalition spoke to Craig Robinson, the actor who portrays Lester about he complications of filming during lockdown, the struggles of isolation and more.
“A few months before taking the part, I thought I already had COVID, but when I was tested by production, we discovered I had no antibodies, which meant that I actually hadn’t had COVID. Without the protective antibodies, I figured I’d better be extra careful, like Lester.”
That feeling and its emotions came from what initially seemed like formidable, if not insurmountable, challenges. While a “traditional” production would struggle with the strict COVID guidelines the movie is tailor-made for the film to actually optimize these new rules and regulations. Therefore limitations actually fostered ingenuity.
“Lester has some rich clients, and some shady stuff goes on with them,” admits Craig Robinson, who relates to the entrepreneur.
“What made Lester interesting to me is that I became more like him as I played him. Lester is terrified of the virus, so he goes to extreme lengths to stay disease-free, even donning a full Hazmat suit when he goes outside his warehouse while using a flamethrower to ‘sterilize’ discarded packaging.”
To learn more about Songbird and how Craig Robinson handled a pandemic movie while filming during a pandemic check out our full interview in the video above.
Songbird is available on VOD now.