I love it when two of my favorite people come together to collaborate on a film. The film is directed by two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird, (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” “The Incredibles”) but both him and Damon Lindelof (“Star Trek,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” “LOST”) tackled the screenplay, story, and producing duties together. They sat down with the bloggers for an exclusive interview about the behind the scenes of Tomorrowland.
Q: How did the information from the Disney archives help you to bring tomorrowland to life on the big screen?
DAMON: I think that we are both fascinated with Imagineering and particularly Walt’s futurism. A lot of that stuff was rampant in the early days of designing the Parks itself. And in tomorrowland obviously he came up with the concept in the 50s and 60s but I think that this sort of treasure trove of roads not taken, the part that Brad and I particularly zeroed in on was the 1964 world’s fair where there were a number of attractions: Mr. Lincoln, carousel of progress.
BRAD: Magic skyway. Small world.
DAMON: It would be really great to see those on the big screen kind of re-create that feeling. Our initial ambition was a lot higher but again the world’s fair as what they represented at the time, particularly in the 60s, the connection to Disneyland that was really the stuff that we kind of locked in on.
BRAD: But it’s also that world’s fairs in and of themselves were a thing where people would bring together their brightest minds and talk about the future. They were semi regular event where people came together from all over the world and kind of traded ideas. They had a utopian aspect. When we were talking about what happened to the idea of a positive future we kind of started to notice that that great future sort of disappeared around the time the world’s fairs disappeared. The world went through world wars and had plenty of strife but people clung to the idea of things in the future will be better. That idea seems to have been retired. Now everybody seems to be going, yeah it’s going to suck. You know? Is there anything we can do about it? No. So we’re all just kind of on this bus that we have no control over the destination. We were just kind of looking at each other going, why did that change? And when did it change? How do we get back to it? So that was kind of trying to do sort of a fable around that idea was kind of on our minds.
Q: In terms of the future itself there’s a lot of technology in the movie. What part of technology would you like to have today from the ones that we see in the movie?
BRAD: Well, I would love to be able to travel somewhere without having to actually get on a plane. I mean I love the idea of walking through a doorway and being somewhere else. I think that that would probably change the planet in wonderful and nightmarish ways. I think that there are a lot of sort of dream concepts in this movie. That was one of the things that attracted me was getting a chance to glimpse those things. Of course, you sit there and talk about all the things that you could put on screen and that’s a wonderful pie in the sky moment of any movie. That’s usually very early. Then pretty soon you have to get down to the sobering reality after binging all my on what it could be, ha, ha. You know? Then you go, well wait a minute now that was great last night. I’m kind of hung over now but it’s two hours, we only get to spend this much money and we have a story to tell which means we can’t spend two hours just going, woohoo.
So you have to start saying what ideas are central to the story that you’re trying to tell.Sometimes your favorite notions don’t fit into the story you’re trying to tell. So you save that for another day.
Q: Can you tell us more about the discovery of the 1952 box and how that inspired you in the movie?
DAMON: The more that we look into, what the origins of the box are and where it came from and who found it, the less defined answers that we get. Suffice to say we became fairly convinced looking through it that we didn’t know exactly what it was. The items in it could have been probably 80% of them were completely and totally uninteresting.
But the ones that were interesting to us felt like, what if we were kids in third grade and someone put this box in front of us and said, tell us a story about the things that you find in this box. How would they all connect? And we took some things like the design for the, it’s a small world ride and Flushing Meadows in 64. This weird kind of like disk that might have been an animation that Orson Welles might have had some interest in. We sort of said, what if Walt Disney was a member of this secret group of geniuses plus ultra. Tomorrowland itself was actually a cover for a real place that they built in an alternate dimension? Then we were kind of off to the races. The box became just sort of you know, a part of the santa myth. It became sort of the North Pole but we were more focused on trying to leave presents under people’s trees. Bad metaphor but, Santa is real.
Q: What do you think people will learn or take away from watching this film?
BRAD: Well, I think we are hesitant to make it like broccoli and say you know, although I like broccoli. Go see this movie because it’s good for you. That’s the sure way to have sagebrush blowing through the theater. [INTERRUPTION].
DAMON: Do you like broccoli kids? You’re going to love tomorrowland. Yeah. Broccoli and homework? Yeah. We’re doing some viral with the broccoli industry. On the back of the box just a tie in.
BRAD: But I mean our goal first and foremost is to make a great time at the movies. That said, my favorite rides in terms of movies are rise where I still think about them later. There’s a lot of very loud, very fast, very disposable entertainment right now where everybody goes WOO and afterwords it’s like….Before the like even come up in the theater you’re thinking about something else and you know that you paid money, you know that you were not bored. You know that you heard a lot of loud sounds and saw some flashy movement. But there’s not a lot to take away. I don’t think those two things need to be mutually exclusive, you know. I loved ET you know, years ago. On the face of it, it’s a movie about a rubber alien puppet you know, but it absolutely swept you away and got you emotionally involved. You thought about it. You know? I think we would like to be that. We would like people hopefully to come away thinking I have a hand in the future. I’m not a passenger on this bus. I can be the driver and that we collectively are in charge of where we want, what we want the future to be. That it’s a malleable thing that’s changing every day. And it’s being created by what people do today.
DAMON: We have a young woman in the movie that you guys are well aware of and she is being barraged with the polar ice caps are melting, things are going to be much worse in the future. She asks the only relevant question which is, can you know, can we fix it? We hope that you walk out of the movie at the end saying, you can but you have to do something. You can’t just sort of sit around and the future isn’t something that happens to us it’s something that we make happen. And I think that she certainly comes out of the movie feeling that way.
Tomorrowland The Movie
From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s “Tomorrowland,” a riveting mystery adventure starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.
Featuring a screenplay by “Lost” writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, “Tomorrowland” promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.
The film also stars Hugh Laurie as brilliant scientist David Nix, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Robinson.
“Tomorrowland” is produced by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird and Jeffrey Chernov and directed by Brad Bird, with John Walker, Bernard Bellew, Jeff Jensen and Brigham Taylor serving as executive producers. “Tomorrowland” opens in U.S. theaters on May 22, 2015.
What IS Tomorrowland?
Take the entire family on a trip of a lifetime!
***Disclosure: I attended #TomorrowlandEvent . My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney & ABC. All opinions are 100% mine. ***