Brad Bird on Tomorrowland, It's Mystery & Beyond

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Comicbook.com was recently invited to attend Disney’s Tomorrowland worldwide press event in conjunction to the upcoming home video release of the film. We were given a chance to speak with co-writer and director, Brad Bird.

What made you decide that you wanted to work on this project?

Brad Bird: I got a chance to work with Damon Lindelof who came up with this story with Jeff Jensen (while working) on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and we hit it off, and over lunch we fell into this discussion on how the future has changed in the realm of pop culture.

There was a general belief that the future was going to be better for everyone and somewhere along the line that changed. We kind of decided that we wanted to explore that as a fable and what if we did a fable that asked that question? What happened to the future?

I see what you mean, where at one time, glimpses of the future have always been happier, and more hopeful, these days we are more inclined to see dystopian, post-apocalyptic futures in popular fiction.

BB: The interesting thing about that is that some people enjoyed that, and some people took the film as a criticism of pop-culture using these dystopian futures. That dismayed me a bit. I love a lot of those movies. I love Road Warrior, Terminator 2, The Matrix and a lot of these visions of the future. Somewhere along the line these became the only vision of the future, and that’s when I started to think, 
“can’t there be something else?

I think some people took our film as a criticism, that you can’t enjoy those other films, and that’s not at all what we intended.

I think these types of feel-good movies are few and far between these days. I mean, the movie had great visuals and action set pieces too. But the best thing I thought was the intrigue and mystery. Was that tough to balance?

BB: It was a difficult movie to do, and it was hard to find the right tone. It seemed to constantly invite complexity that was not welcome. Meaning that whenever you give out a piece of information, it almost always begs questions, and if you try to answer those questions, they begged for more questions. And pretty soon, you end up making a movie you’re not interested in.

Keeping it simple and keeping it along the line of this journey was really difficult. You were either giving not enough information, or slowing the movie down with too much information. Finding the sweet spot in between was very tough for this movie.
There were set pieces that were attractive. The pin experience was a tough thing to pull off but gratifying to work on. The assault on the house was fun to do. But these things invariably are more fun to conceive than to execute. They were very difficult to execute and it was difficult to keep the movie moving at a pace where it was being done responsibly when each piece has to be exact.

The thing that was most fun to shoot was that little bit of film we shot in the Bahamas where Nix and Frank were fighting at the beach. We had a guerrilla team, a small team where everyone had several different jobs. We had to shoot it almost like a Roger Corman film. We had a very small unit in the Bahamas, but we shot it in two days but we had a blast.

There's been a bit of a debate online and even amongst some of my friends. Is this Casey’s movie, or Frank’s movie? What’s your thought on this?

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“I think that the core relationship is between Frank and Athena, and Casey is a catalyst for that. Casey is our way into it, and our way to connect to what’s happening right now. But the dance between the vision of the future that Frank had as a child and the feeling betrayed, and coming to terms with the future is embroiled within his relationship with Athena, which I think is a really unusual and interesting relationship to explore.”

Tomorrowland is available on blu-ray, DVD and digital HD starting October 13, 2015.