ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Bird Box Barcelona directors and writers Àlex and David Pastor about international stories and filming with real blindfolds (read more interviews). The film is now streaming on Netflix.
“From the producers of the global phenomenon, Bird Box, comes Bird Box Barcelona, an expansion of the film that riveted audiences in 2018,” reads the film’s official synopsis. “After a mysterious force decimates the world’s population, Sebastian must navigate his own survival journey through the desolate streets of Barcelona. As he forms uneasy alliances with other survivors and they try to escape the city, an unexpected and even more sinister threat grows.”
Tyler Treese: Alex, the original Bird Box was a huge hit for Netflix. How exciting was it to expand that universe, rather than do a retread to get to tell this whole different perspective of what is a global issue?
Àlex Pastor: Well, that’s what really attracted us to the project. This idea of directing a movie, that it was part of a mosaic of stories that they were going to tell more of a global tale. Instead of having a linear way of telling it and doing a direct sequel or prequel from the original one, creating these different chapters, these parallel stories that could be set in different parts of the world. We thought it was something that had never been done before and it wouldn’t have been possible before a global platform like Netflix.
David, you both also wrote the movie. I was curious about the creative process. Were you given a kind of franchise bible of what you could and couldn’t do, or did you have free reign? How was it navigating that process?
David Pastor: Well, I think that what attracted us to this project as filmmakers was the freedom that we had. Netflix only knew that they wanted to have a Bird Box story set in Spain, and obviously that story had to respect the rules of the original and be consistent with it. But other than that, it was one of those situations where [they said], “Knock yourself out, guys. Come up with something that you’re excited about.” Like Alex was saying, as directors, we didn’t want to just redo the original or give the audience something that they had already seen. So it was up to us to find a way of delivering something that was different and then really approach the myth of Bird Box from a completely different perspective.
Alex, for the blindfolded scenes, are the actors actually blindfolded? I couldn’t tell. Is it harder to pretend to act blind?
Àlex Pastor: Well, it depends. It depends on the actors.
David Pastor: And it depends on the scene.
Àlex Pastor: It depends on the scene. There are scenes that are too risky to perform actually blindfolded. So they are not. So sometimes they can see … they’re a little see-through. Sometimes they even have holes on it that, then with CGI, you patch.
David Pastor: Especially for the little girl, you know? Like the little girl, it would be too dangerous to have her on a place where she could fall down and basically kill herself. [Laugh]. So in those cases, we would call it the Ninja Turtles blindfold, which was like a blindfold with like two Ninja Turtle-style holes. And then, with CGI, we would erase them.
Àlex Pastor: But we had some actors who liked to be a little more method and they refused to have see-through blindfolds and they wanted to be able to go blind through the scene, which … whatever helps the actor, we’re game,
David, for any disaster movie, the human interactions are important. Can you speak to the human element of the movie and what interested you about this dynamic where they have to put their trust in others to survive, but they also have to be quite wary of everybody they’re interacting with?
David Pastor: Yeah, I think that’s something that we probably learned during the actual pandemic that we were all through. This balance between relying on other people, but also, the fear of the other, the fear of contagion. That’s something that I think that since we all lived through, it was very much in our mind when we were directing the movie and when we were talking to the actors about their interactions. That was a very important part of the film. I think that that’s something that people will be able to relate [to], even more now than how the audience did back in like 2018 when the original came out.
I know you’re not the one making these decisions, but how much potential do you see in Bird Box becoming even bigger of a franchise? It seems there are so many possibilities.
Àlex Pastor: For sure. I would love to see what somebody in Korea or in Tokyo could do with this story, and to see new perspectives. I think that that’s what’s so powerful and original from this franchise in particular. So I’m very excited to sit down and watch somebody else from a very different country from ours, with a very different perspective, have a crack at it and blow my mind.
David Pastor: I mean, we’ve seen America, we’ve seen Europe. I think we should see Asia, you know? That would be amazing. And in a way, it reminds us of a bit of the World War Z book — not the movie, which is fine, but the original World War Z book. Max Brooks really had this sort of mosaic of what was going on in the entire world during the zombie outbreak, you know? I think that could be like something really cool.