A bit over a week ago, we had a magical opportunity to meet and interview the creators and producers of the new upcoming Disney movie Tomorrowland – Brad Bird the Director and Producer, and Damon Lindelof the Producer and Writer for the movie.
Interacting and asking questions was an amazingly powerful experience. First, these two individuals are bursting with creative thoughts and ideas. Second, their view of the today’s world feeds their imagination in their creative process. To learn and to talk about their work in cinematography was a dream come true.
Having seen the movie at a special preview, I was astounded with the variation of thoughts and developments. But one central thought that ties all things together is the understanding that each one of us has a hand in the Future, thus ability to change it in a positive way.
We were very curious to find out how Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof came up with such an interesting way to present and build a storyline for the movie.
Damon Lindelof: The movie was originally called “Lost in Tomorrowland.” I think that when I get engaged in a story, there is a fair amount of mystery involved in it. I love the idea of the unknown and sort of like what is that? Especially, when we go to movies these days and you see the trailers before the movies, in two minutes they just told me the entire movie. There’s like, I want to go see the avengers, but I kind of feel like I just saw the avengers.
So we were engaged by this idea of tomorrowland because you hear that title and it feels familiar, it creates an emotional idea in me, but I don’t exactly know what it’s about. And the same is true of Lost. At the same time you can’t write unless you know where you’re headed.
Because every time you come to a crossroads, every time you’re at a fork, if you don’t know where you’re headed – you’re just going to sit there and basically not know which way to turn the wheel. That said, as you’re driving and if you switch the driver and the passenger from time to time, you make all these very interesting discoveries, which is why I love collaborating.
And I think that when Brad and I, and Jeff Jensen all sort of got together and started talking about the story of tomorrowland, we all kind of felt like we knew what the story that we wanted to tell was.
As we are celebrating the 75th Walt Disney Studios Anniversary this year, we could not avoid asking both Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof about their fascination of the rich history and data the Disney Archives present to any writer and movie director. Brad Bird, the Director of TOMORROWLAND, intentionally did the research and used in the movie the attractions and concepts from the Walt Disney Parks in California – Disneyland.
As both Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof were fascinated by and admired by the futuristic vision of Walt Disney and his vision of the future, they made the movie evocative of the themes of dreaming big and being responsible of bringing those dreams into life.
Damon Lindelof: 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, like Magic Skyway, It’s A Small World of course.
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 Bird: 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.
Something has been lost. Pessimism has become the only acceptable way to view the future, and I disagree with that. I think there’s something self-fulfilling about it. If that’s what everybody collectively believes then that’s what will come to be. It engenders passivity: if everybody feels like there’s no point then they don’t do the myriad of things that could bring us a great future.
When I was a kid, even though there were many negative things going on, as there always is and will be, it was acceptable to view the future in a positive light, that life was going to be better, that racism would cease, inequality would be mitigated, and so on.
Now there’s this sort of giant cosmic shrug and I hate that. I just don’t think that we’re on the planet to do that. We have the power to be responsible and go in the other direction.
One more trivia detail that popped up during the conversation about some 1952 Box discovered among other “Walt Disney” personal belongings that solidified the idea of the movie Tomorrowland.
Damon Lindelof: 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.
As we were deep in the interview questions, both men were openly joking and sharing their experience of working with amazing cast of actors. They also mentioned their preferences of transportation for the future, which created a long wave of giggles and laughter in the room, as they were going on and on. Here’s Damon’s favorite dream of futuristic travel-ability.
Damon Lindelof: I would love to be able to travel somewhere without having to actually get on a plane. 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 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.
It was especially nice to hear how both producers talked about each other’s contribution to making of Tomorrowland.
Brad Bird: I was an admirer of Damon’s work on “Lost.” My family and I are totally into “Lost.” And any time the episode credited Damon, had a screen credit on that script, I would [say] to my wife, “This is going to be good” [on their collaboration of Tomorrowland movie].
TOMORROWLAND Opens May 22nd In Theaters Everywhere!
Go See It with Your Family!
It Shall Change Your Vision of Future & Your Place In It.
Photo Credit: Louise Bishop