I had the opportunity to interview Brad Bird, Director and Producer of Disney’s Tomorrowland, when I was in Los Angeles last month for the #TomorrowlandBloggers, #AladdinBloggers, #Disneyland60 press event. All travel expenses were covered, but all thoughts are my own. Photos courtesy of Disney (other than the shot of Brad Bird alone, since I took that picture). Note: affiliates links used in this post.
One of the things that impressed me the most when I was reading over Brad Bird’s bio prior to our small group, round table interviews was that Brad started making films when he was my youngest son’s age! He began his first film at age 11 and he finished it nearly 3 years later. His animated short brought him to the attention of Walt Disney Studios where we was mentored by Milt Kahl, on of the Disney legendary animators known as the “Nine Old Men.”
Brad spent years working on other projects, such as executive consultant on “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” (the two longest-running and most celebrated animated series on tv!). My husband is impressed that he created, wrote, directed and co-produced (phew!) the “Family Dog” episode of Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories,” which produces one of my husband’s favorite tv/movie lines to quote!
When Did Our Vision of the Future Change?
When Brad was working on Mission Impossible, he and one of the Producers and Co-Writers of the film started talking about how the concept of the future had changed since they were kids.
Brad said, “When we were kids it was a Jetson’s mentality of ‘The future’s going to be fun. We’re going to solve hunger and we’re going to get past all the problems with racism and every problem will be solved and it’s going to be a blast….And we’re all going to have jet packs.”
They asked themselves, “When did that change and why did it change?” They realized that children (and adults) today don’t view the future like that at all anymore. He said, “If you talk about the future and you want to be taken seriously, ‘it’s an apocalyptic wasteland where we’re all going to die.”
“Why did that change and can we make a sort of a fable about that?” They sought out to make a movie that would be simple and fun but would address some of those issues and raise those same questions that they had been asking themselves about why our concept of the future has changed.
“The only truly reliable critic is time.”
Portraying a Positive Side to our Future:
I love what Brad Bird had to say about the movie’s positive message: “I’m proud that the message is a positive one about the future and that hopefully people come out of it thinking that they can have a hand in shaping it. And that it isn’t set and that we don’t just lie down and go, ‘Yeah we’re all gonna’ die.’ It’s more like, ‘No, it’s challenging, but it’s also exciting. Let’s do it.'”
“It started with Walt’s idea of the future. I just remember when Disney talked about the future it was ‘It’s going to be difficult, but man this is going to be great.’“
When thinking of when the movie should be set, Brad said, “We thought 1964 was right about at the end of the idealistic phase. What’s weird is during the early 60’s it’s not like the world was in great shape. The cold war was in effect, we were only a couple of years from the Bay of Pigs where basically we were about ready to get World War III that would destroy the planet. And we came within hours of it and managed to dodge it. So it wasn’t like things were perfect. Vietnam was going on, there were a lot of problems, but there also was this compelling positive vision about the future that we would get past it…but something seemed to shift. I don’t know whether the start of it is loss of faith in our leaders or …I have no answers for exactly where it came from, but it seems to be a real thing and I just think that it’s a rudder and we can change where the rudder is tilting.“
Tomorrowland Bonus Features:
We asked Brad if he was particularly excited about any of the bonus features on the Blu-ray/DVD, and he said that one particular bonus feature stuck out in his mind.
He said, “We did a little film that was very limited animation that was originally intended as a structure for the ride that was underneath It’s a Small World. The idea was that it was going to be a ride that would present all this information. And that young Frank was getting educated on Plus Extra.”
“But it ended up being that you’re watching a kid watching a ride, and that’s just not a good use of screen time. So we ended up cutting it, but we still had the film that we used as the archetype. We showed it in about 10 or 20 theaters and everyone that saw it liked seeing it; they liked knowing about it.”
“The Origins of Plus Extra” is now available as an animated short before the movie on the Blu-ray to give some additional context to the story.
Other Bonus Features Include:
- Remembering The Future: A Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland With Brad Bird – the director reflects on the movie as both a celebration of humankind’s can-do spirit and a rousing call to action.
- Casting Tomorrowland
- A Great Big Beautiful Scoring Session
- The World of Tomorrow Science Hour – Hosted by Futurologist David Nix – Outtakes from a long-lost series pilot.
- Deleted Scenes
- And more!
Here’s a special bonus just for reading this post! Check out this behind-the-scenes sneak peek at Raffey Cassidy:
Official Boilerplate: 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.
© 2015, Food Fun Family. All rights reserved.