What must be done to save tomorrow, that is the premise for Tomorrowland. The film is directed, produced and co-written by two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” “The Incredibles”). Damon Lindelof (“Star Trek,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”) and Jeffrey Chernov (“Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”) are also producers. John Walker (“The Incredibles”), Bernard Bellew (“Les Misérables,” “28 Weeks Later”), Jeff Jensen and Brigham Taylor (upcoming “Jungle Book”) serve as executive producers. We had the opportunity to sit down with director Brad Bird and producer Damon Lindelof who shared the process of making the movie and how it was all inspired by the idea of an optimistic future. Lindelof really wanted to capture the past 1964 World view of optimism. But let’s start back at the archives we visited yesterday on the blog.
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 that…..Mr. Lincoln, carousel progress.
BRAD : Magic skyway.
DAMON : And we just felt like….
DAMON : Yeah, 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 : 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, you know, the world was, 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. And we are now everybody seems to be going, yeah it’s going to suck. You know? And is there anything we can do about it? No. So we’re all just kind of –, thank you. We’re all just kind of on this bus that we have no control over the destination.
And we were just kind of looking at each other going, why did that change? And when did it change? And you know, 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 : What do you do to feed that creativity and just help you tell those stories?
BRAD : Coffee. Yeah. It doesn’t have to be Starbucks by the way.
DAMON : 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 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 like, 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? And I think that we are so steeped we are fans of this material ourselves. The fact that we get to make it. And 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 these other you know, to the sort of apocalyptic storytelling that we’ve been kind of barraged with. And we love the hunger games. And I want to see mad Max.
BRAD : Yeah, yeah.
DAMON : But I also think like 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…….
BRAD : Or zombies killing each other…..
DAMON : Or zombies killing each other. Zombies killing teenagers and all that stuff.
Q : What part of technology would you like to have today from the ones that we see in the movie?
DAMON : 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 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.
And that’s usually very early. And 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? And then you go, 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………
BRAD : Sure we can. Why not?
DAMON : But so 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.
Q : Can you tell us more about the discovery of the 1952 box and how that inspired you in the movie?
DAMON : Yes, you know, I will say that the origin –. The more that we look into you know, what the origins of the box are and where it came from and who found it, the less –, you know, 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 you know, 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. And this weird kind of like disk that might have been an animation that Orson Welles might have had some interest in. And we sort of said, what if Walt Disney was a member of this secret group of geniuses 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. And the box became just sort of you know, a part of the…..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…. Sorry, yeah. Should we –, I like working around clockwise.