Talking With Tomorrowland Director Brad Bird And Writer Damon Lindelof #TomorrowlandEvent
*I received an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles for the coverage of several press events for Disney. All opinions are 100% my own and we only recommend events and shows that are a great fit for our readers.
As most of you know; I took a trip to Los Angeles last week to learn all about Disney’s Tomorrowland. While I was there, I had the amazing opportunity to meet and interview the Director of Tomorrowland, Brad Bird and the Producer, Damon Lindelof. This was such a fun treat! These two men are unbelievably creative and very funny to listen to. Just to refresh your memory; Brad Bird also worked on Ratatouille in 2007, The Simpsons in 1989 and The Incredibles in 2004. As George Clooney so eloquently put it; “he’s never made a bad film”. Before Tomorrowland, Damon Lindelof worked on Lost in 2004, Prometheus in 2012 and Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013. As you can see, these are two very talented men. As we were sitting and waiting on them to enter the room for the interview, we were all wondering what they were going to be like. You never know with the creative minds behind the films. They’re not always super socially savvy. I can tell you, these are two of the most likable guys I have ever interviewed. They kept the interview going and has so much fun input about the movie. This was definitely a highlight of my year! Now, onto the good stuff; what did they have to say about Disney’s Tomorrowland?!
Question: How did the information from the Disney archives help you to bring tomorrowland to life on the big screen?
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 park itself and in Tomorrowland. Obviously, he came up with the concept in the 50’s and 60’s 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. We just felt like 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: 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 events 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 and now everybody seems to be going, yeah it’s going to suck. You know? Is there anything we can do about it? No. 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? 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.
Question: What do you do to feed that creativity and just help you tell those stories?
Damon Lindelof: We watch a lot of TV. We go and see a lot of movies. We tell our wives and children that that’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 that we are so steeped we are fans of this material ourselves. I think the minute that you start to seal yourself off and say, I’m just going to become completely introverted and write my own stuff and you close the gates to everything that surrounds you. I think in a lot of ways this movie, as Brad was just saying, is a little bit of a response to the sort of apocalyptic storytelling that we’ve been kind of barraged with, but I 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 or zombies killing each other. Zombies killing teenagers and all that stuff.
Question: What part of technology would you like to have today from the ones that we see in the movie?
Damon Lindelof: 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 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. 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 and then pretty soon you have to get down to the sobering reality after binging on what it could be. 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’. You have to start saying what ideas are central to the story that you’re trying to tell. And sometimes your favorite notions don’t fit into the story you’re trying to tell, so you save that for another day.
Photo credit: Tomorrowland-Movie.com
Question: Can you tell us more about the discovery of the 1952 box and how that inspired you in the movie?
Damon Lindelof: Yes, 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. 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 Flushing Meadows in 64 and this weird 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. What if Tomorrowland itself was actually a cover for a real place that they built in an alternate dimension? Then we were off to the races and the box became just 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.
Question: What do you think people will learn or take away from watching this film?
Brad Bird: I think we are hesitant to make it like broccoli and say, 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. Our goal first and foremost is to make a great time at the movies and, you know, go well with popcorn and all of that. That said, my favorite rides in terms of movies are rides where I still think about them later. There’s a lot of very loud, very fast, very disposable entertainment right now, but you know, it’s all of that. Before they even come up in 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. 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. 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 what we want the future to be. It’s a malleable thing that’s changing every day and it’s being created by what people do today.
Damon Lindelof: 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. 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. The future isn’t something that happens to us it’s something that we make happen. I think that she certainly comes out of the movie feeling that way.
From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” 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.
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TOMORROWLAND opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, May 22nd!