Michael Bay is a maverick filmmaker that does what he wants, when he wants. So it came as a surprise when SAG-AFTRA shut down his plans to film one of the first new movies since the pandemic swept the world. This put the whole production in jeopardy heading into the weekend. But now SAG-AFTRA has rescinded those orders, and shooting should start soon on the lockdown thriller Songbird.
It didn’t take SAG-AFTRA long to change their minds. They made the decision to reverse their ‘Do Not Work’ order just one day after they put it into place. Songbird is being produced by On a Lark Productions, LLC. It is now confirmed that any guild members tied to the film can go to work effective immediately.
Heading into the July 4th weekend, SAG-AFTRA demanded that any members associated with the production of the movie were not allowed to attend set. The reason: ‘[Songbird] failed to complete the signatory process and is therefore not signed to any applicable SAG-AFTRA agreement.”
It appeared that the producers were able to resolve the issue with the union. A rep had this to say last Thursday when the orders were first received, “We are actively working to resolve this paperwork issue with the guild.” In response to that, SAG-AFTRA offered this retort.
“The producers have not been transparent about their safety protocols and that is something we obviously take very seriously. Also, as noted in the Do Not Work order, the producers have not yet become signatory to our agreement. We have no further comment.”
It was announced early on during nationwide lockdowns that producer Michael Bay would be quickly moving forward on Songbird, which will directly revolve around the pandemic we are all still caught in. Michael Bay plans, “to take an unusual approach to shooting a movie in Los Angeles during the lockdown.”
Actors on the movie are undergoing remote training. It isn’t quite clear how the movie will be shot as the various Hollywood guides continue to compile their safety guidelines. It was initially reported that, “the filmmakers behind Songbird have screened their plans by the guilds, and they are good to go.”
Adam Mason has clocked in to direct the thriller, which will come from former Paramount production chief Adam Goodman’s Invisible Narratives. This is the note that SAG-AFTRA sent out on July 3rd to Bay and his team.
“On A Lark Productions, LLC, the producer of the picture entitled Songbird, has failed to complete the signatory process and is therefore not signed to any applicable SAG-AFTRA agreement. 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. 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.”
The union’s Global Rule One? ‘No member shall render any services or make an agreement to perform services for any employer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the union, which is in full force and effect, in any jurisdiction in which there is a SAG-AFTRA national collective bargaining agreement in place. This provision applies worldwide.’
This is the second time a movie has been halted during the ongoing pandemic. Back in Mid-June, the Scott Baio comedy Courting Mom Dad had its plug pulled after it was accused of failing to comply with LA County Health Orders and Child Actor laws. While Songbird is cleared for takeoff, an exact start date hasn’t been officially announced. But it can start shooting this week if it so chooses. This report originated at Deadline.