Like his last movie Tangerine, Sean Baker shot Snowbird exclusively on iPhone 6s smartphones, along with the Moondog Labs' anamorphic clip on lens and a $8 app, FiLMiC Pro.
Snowbird, the title of the movie, is a term used to describe the people who migrate from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern USA and Canada to warmer locales in the winter.
The movie was shot in Slab City, a snowbird campsite in the Sonoran Desert 156 miles northeast of San Diego, used by recreational vehicle owners and squatters from across North America. The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, and there is no charge for parking. The camp has no electricity, no running water, no sewers nor toilets, and no trash pickup service.
In the movie, a character shows Theo an old bomb he found in the surrounding desert, reminding her that the Slabs campsite sits on an abandoned World War II military base.