Writer and director Adam Mason started writing the script for the newly released thriller Songbird just four days into quarantine. Drawing inspiration from the actual global pandemic the world was facing, he unknowingly mirrored many of the dismal realities that came to fruition over the coming months. With COVID-19 tearing through the country and Hollywood–along with the rest of the country–at a stand-still, Mason teamed up with producers Adam Goodman and Michael Bay to make a movie about a pandemic in the midst of a pandemic.
“I think we as humans always gravitate towards arts. Especially in moments like this, art is a way to escape. So to be able to create a movie, in the middle of one of the greatest survival stories of our time, is a beautiful story of the power of hope. This production team believed that they could put this together. And they did. And they did so safely,” actress Sofia Carson says of working on the film. “It’s the power of humanity coming together to create beautiful art out of such devastation. And that in itself is a story of hope.”
Songbird takes place in Los Angeles in 2023 and COVID-19 has mutated into COVID-23. Carson plays the role of Sara, who is quarantined in her apartment with her mom. Forced apart from her love interest played by KJ Apa, the story of Songbird is one many people across the globe have experienced this year.
“This has been my most challenging role to date. Not only because we were shooting during a pandemic, but because emotionally, Sara’s story is the heart of the film in the sense that she loses quite literally everything,” Carson says. “She’s kind of like the emotional catharsis of the film. Almost all of her scenes were incredibly emotionally draining, and I had to dive headfirst into her every waking thought, fear, emotion, and heartbeat because I really wanted her every thought to feel like my own.”
With a cast of Demi Moore, Bradley Whitford, Craig Robinson, and Alexandra Daddario, Carson was not only in good company on set, she felt safe. While shooting, the entire cast and crew were tested four to five times a week and many members of the crew had multiple roles, such as the director of photography also operating a camera, in order to minimize the number of people on set. “It wasn’t a typical film, it was almost like an independent film in the way that we were almost shooting like live theater. We felt extraordinarily safe,” Carson describes. “And because of this film, because we were able to shoot a movie safely, now Hollywood has been able to kind of figure out how to work through COVID. It’s like a new dawn for Hollywood.”
While the scenes of an empty and desolate city of Los Angeles are eery, there is something impressive about a cast and crew utilizing limitations to their advantage. There are only a handful of scenes that feature multiple actors face-to-face and with the pandemic storyline, there are a lot of hazmat suits and face masks involved.
Carson admits that this past year has been quite a journey of self-love for her but from her work in Songbird, her new music, her partnership with Revlon, and being named a UNICEF ambassador, I’d say the journey is going pretty well. “Now more than ever, being able to give back with an institution like UNICEF is truly the most important role that I will ever play,” she says of her greatest accomplishment in 2020. “It’s always been important to me to tell stories that mean something to every young boy and girl around the world who will be listening, and perhaps be shaped by them if they’re still growing up. It’s a privilege to be a part of stories like Songbird and to tell a story like “Guess I’m A Liar.””
It feels fitting that Carson’s music video for her new single “Guess I’m A Liar” echoes the fearlessness that we see from her in Songbird. “In the video, I was trying to channel a woman who is a survivor. She’s a warrior. And I guess Sara is very much that as well. She’s a warrior of hope in Songbird.”
Watch Songbird on select streaming services now.