Exploring the Genius Behind #Tomorrowland ~ Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof ~ #TomorrowlandEvent

by Heather

Damon and Brad Header PhotoPhoto Credit: Louise Bishop of MomStart.com

The future isn’t something that happens to us it’s something that we make happen – Damon Lindelof

Being a part of the #TomorrowlandEvent has really piqued my interest in everything Tomorrowland. It makes sense, right? That was the goal. When you are part of an event you are supposed to embrace it, which I did, but this goes beyond a warm hug, this is magical. From touring Disney Archives to visiting Disneyland (more on that tomorrow) and finally having the opportunity to interview members of the cast … it is as though I am part of the production, a part of the crew. No, no, don’t pull out the straightjacket. I haven’t lost my marbles, well ummm hmmm let’s not get into that, what I mean is this experience awakened something inside me that I thought I had lost. It is as though the lens of life that I was looking through was a bit cloudy but now everything is clear. Do me a favor, step outside and look at the sky, it’s beautiful, isn’t it? I have been smiling almost nonstop since I arrived home from Los Angeles and it is all because there is something new in my life … a renewed sense of hope.

My first night in Los Angeles for Disney’s press junket for Tomorrowland involved visiting the TCL Chinese Main Theater in Beverly Hills. After getting settled in the lights dimmed, a man walked out, and introduced himself as Brad Bird. I was dumbfounded. What in the world was the Director/Producer/Writer of Tomorrowland doing introducing the movie? How freaking cool is that! I was drawn, I mean leaning forward with a big smirk on my face, to his words as he talked about the movie. He thanked us for coming and then the movie began (more on that Friday). At the time, I wasn’t fully able to digest what he had said because the movie started but that night I was up until almost 2 AM just thinking about the movie, everything that went into it, and the obvious genius behind it.

Fast forward to Friday morning, May 8, 2015. I was sitting in a beautiful conference room at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills waiting for my first interview to begin. And when I say first, I mean FIRST, I have never been near anyone famous so I was FREAKING OUT. Brad Bird the Director/Producer/Writer and Damon Lindelof the Producer/Writer of Tomorrowland were getting ready to enter the room and I had no idea what to do with myself. I was fidgeting, bouncing my knee, drinking coffee like a maniac (yeah, because regular coffee calms nerves!), and I kept glancing at the door. Suddenly the door opened and there they were. Holy spit, Batman, I was in the same room with the creative minds behind TOMORROWLAND! OMG, OMG, OMG! I know that my face was bright red because I was nervous and my hands were shaking a little bit because I was nervous but I was smiling a real smile because I was in awe. These are truly brilliant minds.

TIDBITS: Not familiar with Brad Bird? Are you familiar with Ratatouille (2007), The Simpsons (1989), and The Incredibles (2004)? Then you are familiar with Brad.

Know that you have heard the name Damon Lindelof but can’t place it? He is a writer and producer known for his work on Lost (2004), Prometheus (2012), and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

A special thank you to IMDb for confirming this information!

As they got settled in I had no idea what to expect. Two guys with massive brains, they have to be stuffy or at least nerdy. Then again, they have worked on some seriously awesome entertainment so maybe cool with a touch of nerdy. They started the interview with

Brad Bird: We get to warm up for George, we’re very excited. It’s all downhill from here.

Damon Lindeolf: He’s pretty awesome.

 … and dissolved any uncertainty. Here’s the rest of the story.

Question: How did the information from the Disney archives help you to bring Tomorrowland to life on the big screen?

Brad Bird: Damon?      

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 that –- [INTERRUPTION].

Brad Bird: Four, yeah.

Damon Lindelof: Mr. Lincoln, Carousel Progress.

Brad Bird: Magic Skyway.

Damon Lindelof: And we just felt like –- [INTERRUPTION].

Brad Bird: Small World.

Damon Lindelof: 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. They were a semi regular event where people came together from all over the world and kind of traded ideas. 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 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. 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 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 how do we get back to it? Kind of trying to do sort of a fable around that idea was kind of on our minds.

Brad Bird1Photo Credit: Louise Bishop of MomStart.com

Question: You both are very creative and very imaginative individuals. It seems like you just love storytelling. What do you do to feed that creativity and just help you tell those stories?

Brad Bird: Coffee. Yeah. It doesn’t have to be Starbucks by the way.

Question: Are you sure?

Damon Lindelof: 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, 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. The fact that we get to make it. 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 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 Bird: Yeah, yeah.

Damon Lindelof: 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. Again, — [INTERRUPTION].

Brad Bird: Or zombies killing each other.

Damon Lindelof: Or zombies killing each other. Zombies killing teenagers and all that stuff.

Damon Lindelof1Photo Credit: Louise Bishop of MomStart.com

Question: In terms of the future itself there’s a lot of technology in the movie. It’s great that we can touch something and get transported somewhere else or animatronics around us. What part of technology would you like to have today from the ones that we see in the movie?

Brad Bird: 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. 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 all night on what it could be, ha, ha. You know? And 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, — [INTERRUPTION].

Damon Lindelof: Sure we can. Why not?

Brad Bird: So you have to start saying what ideas are central to the story that you’re trying to tell. Sometimes your favorite notions don’t fit into the story you’re trying to tell. So you save that for another day.

Damon & Brad 21Photo Credit: Louise Bishop of MomStart.com

Question: What do you think people will learn or take away from watching this film?

Brad Bird: Well, I think we are hesitant to make it like broccoli, although I like broccoli — and say, go see this movie because it’s good for you. That’s the sure way to have sagebrush blowing through the theater. I think first and foremost were out to –- [INTERRUPTION].

Damon Lindelof: Do you like broccoli kids? You’re going to love Tomorrowland. Yeah. Broccoli and homework? Yeah. We’re doing some viral with the broccoli industry. On the back of the box just a tie in.

Brad Bird: A talking broccoli.

Damon Lindelof: Yeah, absolutely. Hey kids. I’m good for you just like Tomorrowland. No one is writing this down. This is gold.

Brad Bird: Our goal first and foremost is to make a great time at the movies. To 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. And there’s a lot of very loud, very fast, very disposable entertainment right now where everybody goes [VERBAL SOUNDS] and afterwards it’s like, you know –- [INTERRUPTION].

 Damon Lindelof: Do you guys need a spelling on that? It’s Z X Z Z G Y, Z Z X Y C H.

 Brad Bird: It’s all of that. And then, before the lights even come up in the theater you’re thinking about something else and 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 have to be mutually exclusive.

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. You know? And we, I think we would like to be that. And 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 where we want, what we want the future to be. That 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 and things are going to be much worse in the future. 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 and 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.

Brad & Damon groupPhoto Credit: Louise Bishop of MomStart.com

Question: Being a huge Welles fan and now seeing the amazing Tomorrowland, your imagination is incredible. I was just wondering do you know where you’re going with the storyline from start to end or does it change? Because I’m noticing in Lost and Tomorrowland it just blows me away. It’s so creative and I don’t know if you know where you’re going with the story from the start.

Damon Lindelof: It was originally called Lost in tomorrowland. Kind of gets you off the hook, too. Hey, I didn’t say I was going to find anything. Thank you for saying all of that. I think that when I get engaged in a story there is a fair amount of sort 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. It sort of feels like, oh 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. We were engaged by this idea of Tomorrowland because you hear that title and you go, it feels familiar, it creates an emotional idea in me but I don’t exactly know what it’s about. 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, very often especially 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. I think that when Brad and I and Jeff Jensen and I 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. And how it was going to end? Where it goes from here, there are a number of different possibilities. But we didn’t want it to feel like this movie is a cliffhanger or were setting up a franchise or there’s nine different characters coming in at the end. And now we’re setting up our own Tomorrowland universe. We sort of felt like if this is the only movie that we get to make we wanted to feel like it’s complete, which is a much different storytelling mechanism than TV where every episode is designed to get you to watch the next episode.

There was somewhat of a relief to say, this is their journey. This place has a problem. These characters fix that problem and things are much better off than they were when we started the movie.

Now, we could just leave it up to you to create a picture in your mind of what Brad and Damon are like BUT, if you like spoilers … here are our thoughts.

Genius. Engaging. Hilarious. Imaginative. Hopeful. Down to Earth. Amazing.

To get to know Brad and Damon better, we encourage you to take your family and go see Tomorrowland THIS Friday, May 22, 2015. Then, come back and let us know what you think!



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.

Tomorrowland hits theaters THIS Friday, May 22, 2015.

Grab the family and GO!




Disclaimer: I was sent on an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, California courtesy of Disney to experience Tomorrowland and a series of other adventures surrounding the movie. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own.

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Linda Manns Linneman May 20, 2015 - 3:26 pm
I just cannot wait to see this. It sounds like you had a great time. Thank you so much for sharing
laura May 21, 2015 - 8:18 am
Everything I have seen and read about Tomorrowland is awesome! I can't wait to see it!

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