Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof Dare You To Change The Future #TomorrowlandEvent
“At first I wanted to work with Brad Bird. I think he doesn’t make bad films, and I just love the kind of films he makes. I know that Brad is an optimist and he wanted to write a film that said that every time we turn on the news as we do and see how bleak it is, that it doesn’t have to end that way; there’s a future out there if you get involved, and I like the idea of it.” – George Clooney on why he wanted to be involved with Disney’s “Tomorrowland”.
From the moment Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof stepped into the room, it was immediately apparent that their friendship and mutual respect for one another was something that went far beyond just two people who happened to come together to bring to life what is sure to be a new hallmark in movie making. Their comfort level with one another, their light-hearted banter back and forth not to mention the way they could finish each other’s thoughts and sentences, laughing all the way, was more like being with an old married couple then two people who had just started working together. Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof, in a word, are that rare pair of mutual admirers. Bird said that he always knew he’d especially like an episode of Lost when Lindelof, the show’s co-creator, was listed as the writer in the opening credits. And Lindelof’s adoration of Bird, goes all the way back to “Family Dog,” an animated episode of Amazing Stories that Bird wrote and directed in 1987. Although they were first introduced to one another in 2008, “Tomorrowland” which opens everywhere May 22, marks the first time the pair has actually worked together, even though Bird had brought Lindelof in for some uncredited screenwriting in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”.
The film shares a name with a world at Disneyland and the original concept came from the mysterious “1952 Box” and proved to be both a challenging yet exhilarating project for the pair. Both Bird and Lindefof shared their thoughts on their collaboration, their vision for the future, and the ultimate imagineer, Walt Disney.
So just how did the information discovered at the Walt Disney Archives help them to bring “Tomorrowland” to life on the big screen?
“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 Park itself and in particular Tomorrowland when he first came up with the concept in the 50s and 60s but I think that this sort of treasure trove of roads not taken was the part that we particularly zeroed in on was the 1964 World’s Fair where there were a number of attractions- Mr. Lincoln, Carousel of Progress, Magic Skyway and of course It’s A Small World, that we just felt like it would be really great to see those on the big screen to kind of re-create that feeling. Our initial ambition was a lot higher but again the World’s Fair and what it represented at the time, particularly in the 60s, the connection to Disneyland that was really the stuff that we kind of locked in on.“
The two went on to further expand on just how the World’s Fair first played into bringing this story to life.
“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. And they were semi regular event where people came together from all over the world and kind of traded ideas. And they had a utopian aspect. And 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. And that idea seems to have been retired. We were just kind of looking at each other asking why did that change and when did it change? But more importantly, how do we get back to it? So that was our starting point of trying to do sort of a fable around that idea.”
Both Bird and Lindelof are not only creative individuals but their love of telling a good story is apparent. So what was it like when two individual talents worked together to be able to bring this grand adventure to life and how do they keep that creativity going?
“Coffee and It doesn’t have to be Starbucks by the way. I think, you know we watch, we watch a lot of TV. We go and see a lot of movies. And we tell our wives and children that it’s work. But it is the idea of constantly sort of surrounding yourself. I do feel for me in particular and I think that Brad shares this is we sort of grew up in that culture and the idea of saying I want to do this one day. But where we start almost every time that we get together is ‘Oh, did you see this? Did you read this? What do you think about that?‘ I think it also helps because we are such huge fans of this material ourselves and then you add in the fact that we get to make it – it doesn’t get any better than that. I think the minute that you start to shut yourself off and say, ‘I’m just going to become completely introverted and write my own stuff’ you close the gates to everything that surrounds you. I think in a lot of ways this movie as is a little bit of a response to those other sort of apocalyptic storytelling that we’ve been kind of barraged with. We love “The Hunger Games” and we totally want to see “Mad Max” but we also think there’s got to be a future that isn’t of people trying to kill each other in the desert or teenagers killing each other. Again, or Zombies killing each other or Zombies killing teenagers or many of the other reoccurring themes that seem to be out there right now.”
Just how much of the discovery of the mysterious “1952 Box” purported to have been found in the basement of the Walt Disney Archives came into play in bringing the film to life?
“We can say that the origins of the box are and where it came from and who found it, the less defined answers 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 and 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? We took some things like the design for the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride and this weird kind of like disk that might have been an animation that Orson Welles might have had some interest in and we came up with the premise ‘What if Walt Disney was a member of this secret group of geniuses which became known as Plus Ultra and Tomorrowland itself was actually a cover for a real place that they built in an alternate dimension?’ And then we were kind of off to the races.”
In terms of the future itself there’s a lot of technology in the film. So just what part of technology would Lindelof like to have today from the ones that we see in the movie?
“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. But I think that there are a lot of sort of dream concepts in this movie and for me personally that was one of the things that attracted me was getting a chance to glimpse those things as well.“
What is the one thing that these two hope that people will take away with them after seeing “Tomorrowland”?
“Our goal first and foremost is to make a great time at the movies and you know one that goes well with popcorn. That said, my favorite rides in terms of movies are the ones where I still think about them later. And there’s a lot of very loud, very fast, very disposable entertainment right now where everybody goes and before you even come out of the theater you’re thinking about something else. You know that you paid money, you know that you were not bored and you know that you heard a lot of loud sounds and saw some flashy movement. But there’s not a lot to take away. And I don’t think those two things need to be mutually exclusive, you know. I loved “ET” years ago. On the face of it, it’s a movie about a rubber alien puppet but it absolutely swept you away and got you emotionally involved and you thought about it. I think we would like to be that. And we would like people hopefully to think and come away thinking ‘I have a hand in the future. I’m not a passenger on this bus. I can be the driver.’ We collectively are in charge of where we want, what we want the future to be and it’s a malleable thing that’s changing every day. And it’s being created by what people do today. We have a young woman in the movie and she is being barraged with things like the polar ice caps melting, and all the strife in the world knowing that things are going to be much worse in the future and she asks the only relevant question which is ‘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.”
This Friday, get ready to grab the entire family to see this astonishing event of the future. Transport yourself to a place of hope and inspiration on this “E Ticket” ride of a movie where nothing is impossible- “Tomorrowland”.
“What if everything Walt Disney kept in that box was the beginning of a whole other world?”
Missed my interview with the one and only George Clooney, who plays jaded scientist, but one time dreamer Frank Walker-just click here to read all about this genuine, funny, humble and all around good guy.
Read all about Britt Robertson, who stars opposite Clooney as the optimistic and hero of “Tomorrowland” Casey here.
Get ready to be dazzled-The Disneyland ® Resort, home to the original Tomorrowland is turning 60 and their Diamond Celebration starts this week. Learn more about the Disneyland Diamond Celebration and their special movie sneak peek and “Tomorrowland” movie exhibit here
Check out our exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Walt Disney Archives here
Bring home these free activity pages from “Tomorrowland” today
Want to learn more about Tomorrowland?
Visit the interactive Take Me To Tomorrowland Site
Like TOMORROWLAND Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyTomorrowland
Follow Disney Pictures on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyPictures
Visit the official TOMORROWLAND website: www.Disney.com/Tomorrowland
Don’t forget to follow #TomorrowlandEvent to stay find out all the latest
“What if there was a place, a secret place where nothing was impossible? A miraculous place where you could actually change the world- wanna go?”
“Tomorrowland” begins to change the world May 22.
I have been invited by Disney to cover the Tomorrowland Event. All expenses have been paid for by Disney but all opinions my own.