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March 9, 2015

Brad Bird & Damon Lindelof talk ‘Tomorrowland’ in Facebook Q&A

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Written by: Taylor Salan
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In honor of the release of the new Tomorrowland trailer , Director Brad Bird and Producer Damon Lindelof took to Facebook to answer fans burning questions about the highly secretive film. Both Lindelof’s and Bird’s films have held on to the mystery box aspect of their storytelling arsenal very firmly. While the Q&A itself didn’t shed too much light on the plot (The trailer does that pretty well), Bird and Lindelof did share information on both the inspiration and making of the film, which is due in theaters on May 22, 2015. Here is the full Q&A for Tomorrowland:


Q: The word “Tomorrowland” always reminds me of the older generation of science fiction, and the technology of the 1950’s. How inspired were you by old science fiction ideas about where humanity would be in the future?

(Brad Bird) I was not inspired by old science fiction as much as I was inspired by how the future used to be seen in contrast to how it’s seen today.

(Damon Lindelof) You’re SMART, Brad Bird!!!

Q:What made you consider and select Hugh Laurie as David Nix?

(Damon Lindelof) Hugh was, quite literally, the only actor we considered for the part. We needed someone who could:

A. Be very, very smart.

B. Be very, very funny.

C. Go toe to toe with George as to who is the greatest former TV doctor.

Q: Brad, because movies seem to take up a lot of your time, do you bring family along with you as work and travel?

(Brad Bird): My wife goes with me when we shoot. My boys visit whenever they can. On Tomorrowland, our youngest son worked as a PA on the film. So he was there every day during our shoot. Family is key.

I want to be a member of Brad Bird’s family. (that was Damon)

Q:I love movies about secret & hard to reach powerful McGuffins & this is fascinating in that Tomorrowland is uncovering long hidden Disney secrets & McGuffins. Is there a special inspiration in finding & then bringing to the screen a level of creative secrets that can’t usually be found on the surface of a produced story that requires extra digging & searching?

(Damon Lindelof) I apologize for answering with a frowny face. BUT… One of our inspirations was all the hidden Mickeys in the parks… the idea that the Imagineers themselves want to reward the super fans is something we really plugged into!

Q: Do you think the movie as a one time thing or more like a series?

(Brad Bird): I try to see each movie as a standalone thing but the world the movie inhabits as something much larger.

Q: Can you share with us what was the moment while you worked on the story that you realized, “Yes! Now I feel really good that this movie is working or what I hoped it would be!” I’m curious if it was at the writing stage or while you were working with concept art or doing research that that comfort level and excitement hit you. Thank you!

(Damon Lindelof) This is a great question, Frank. That moment came (and went) MANY times over the last four years. When Jeff Jensen and I first started talking about Disney history, particularly Walt’s involvement at the 64 World’s Fair… that was the first time I felt a tingle of, “Wow. We’re tapping into something pretty cool here.” I felt it again when Brad started doing pre-viz for some of the insane action sequences in the movie… and AGAIN on the scoring stage just last week as the brilliant Michael Giacchino led a hundred piece orchestra through the music for the movie.

Q: What was it like to work with George Clooney?

George Clooney is a MONSTER. A handsome, brilliant, talented, highly fun and intensely collaborative monster. (this is Damon Lindelof)

Q: Brad, you’ve successfully directed both animated and live-action films. What are some of the differences and similarities in how you approach developing the story in each medium?

(Brad Bird): Capturing the right tone. If each film is a creature, this film was a very finicky creature. The line between too much information and not enough was razor thin.

Q: This movie has been so mysterious. How careful should fans be when avoiding spoilers? Lost-level-careful or a slighter Incredibles-level-careful? Also, what’s the latest on Incredibles 2 Brad?

(Brad Bird): Keyword is “careful”. Don’t let anyone unwrap presents before Christmas.

Q: Brad, I saw your twitter posts about Richard Sherman and I wanted to ask what it was like working with him? Was he there for support or to actually contribute his work to the film?

(Brad Bird): It was great to have Richard there. Both Michael Giacchino and I are huge fans of his and you might even hear some Sherman Brothers work the movie.

Q: In relation to the film, how do you bring a fresh perspective into your directing? And how do you bring a fresh perspective into your writing?

Brad Bird): I think you do it by getting outside of your head and taking in other influences whether they’re other movies, books, life, paintings. You just try to take new things and the work changes.

Q: Hi Brad&Damon, could you please explain the poster a bit? What are they doing in the wheat field? WITHOUT SPOILERS of course.

(Damon Lindelof) George is looking at a massive thresher just off to the left of the poster, excited at the prospect of the bundling, milling and baking to come. The little kid on the left is distracted by that shiny, beautiful, inspiring City of The Future in the distance. (you said no spoilers)

Q: Hey Brad & Damon, if you could make one invention a reality today, what would that be?

(Damon Lindelof) I gotta go with teleportation. Traffic in L.A. was ruthless this morning.

Q: Hello Brad&Damon, I’m a fan of George’s. Why did you choose him as the lead in the first place? Since normally he won’t do many Sci-fi films. What does George Clooney have in common with Frank Walker?

(Brad Bird): George was our first choice. Luckily he accepted. Integrity is a key part of his persona. The fact that he hasn’t done a lof films like this speaks to that. He only gets involved with things he believes in. That’s also true of Frank Walker the character George plays in Tomorrowland. He’s a great actor and he’s funny.

Q: Will we see any Disney characters in the movie?

(Damon Lindelof) If you look REALLY carefully, you’ll see The White Rabbit from ALICE IN WONDERLAND and THE BIG BAD WOLF from THREE LITTLE PIGS!

Q: Does the Tomorrowland in the movie reflect some of your thoughts on what our real world of tomorrow will (or should) look like?

(Brad Bird): Yes it does but hopefully in a light-footed way.

Q: What Disney Parks attractions influenced/inspired you when creating this movie?

(Damon Lindelof) Brad turned me on to some of the classic Tomorrowland attractions like “Carousel of Progress.” The way the future was viewed from the PAST was really intriguing to us.

Q: Mr. Bird, what was the most challenging part of directing this film? Can we expect to see any special events at the parks leading up to release?

(Brad Bird): Capturing the right tone. If each film is a creature this film was a very finicky creature. The line between too much information and not enough was razor thin.

Q: Once Tomorrowland was decided for the title, was it hard to pick and choose what iconography to acknowledge (either directly or indirectly) from the park and its rich history? It’s easy to make out Space Mountain on the poster…

(Brad Bird): We cherry picked a few things that we thought would fit and would be fun.

Q: What was it about Britt Robertson that led to choosing her as your lead and how would you describe her character?

(Damon Lindelof) A zillion talented young actors auditioned for Casey, but Britt was the one who most embodied what we were looking for — a hopefulness and optimism that felt fresh without being corny. Casey is a dreamer… and explorer… a young woman who refuses to accept the status quo. We felt Britt embodied all of the above.

Q: Is the movie based on Walt Disney’s original plan for EPCOT.

(Brad Bird): Maybe in spirit but not specifically.

Q: Brad, What convinced you that this was the right script to be your next movie?

(Brad Bird): Damon was doing some uncredited writing work on the end of the last movie, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. We started talking about what the other was doing next and it completely sucked me in.

Q: Damon Lindelof do you think you brought a darker essence in this disney film given your history with dystopic sci-fi? BUT MOST IMPORTANT: Did any of you or the other crew ask at sometime for a little piano time from Hugh Laurie?

(Damon Lindelof) I am so excited you think I have a “darker essence” as this is the name of my new fragrance, available this fall! BUT SERIOUSLY. This movie is really a reaction TO dystopic sci-fi… as much as I love that stuff, we really wanted to explore what happened to our jetpacks! As for making musical requests of Hugh Laurie… well, let’s just say the reason you don’t hear him speak in the trailer is because we had him sing his entire part. Take THAT, “Into The Woods!”

Q: Was an objective of the movie, besides entertaining, to inspire optimism in people about the future?

(Brad Bird): I would refrain from making the movie unlike eating your vegetables. I would say it is a counter argument against the current obsessions with dystopia but I would probably rather say it’s just a good time at the movies.

Q: Damon, you’ve worked on a lot of darker, more adult projects lately (Prometheus, The Leftovers). How was it, in contrast, to be part of a family-oriented film like Tomorrowland?

(Damon Lindelof) I have an eight year-old son who hasn’t really been able to see any of the stuff I’ve been working on lately and LOVES all things Disney. This movie is the common ground we both share… I think it’ll be intense and actiony (not a word) enough for him to dig it, but not TOO scary, like, y’know, Aliens popping out of people’s chests.

(Brad Bird): Thanks for all the great questions! Hope you enjoy the trailer. If you already want to see the movie then don’t look at it! If you need you be persuaded, then stay tuned! I think you’ll have blast.
(Damon Lindelof): Okay, gang. Signing off for now. Hope you all dig the new trailer! We’ll be in touch again soon!


Stay tuned for more coverage on ‘Tomorrowland’ as the release date looms closer. In the meantime, here is the official synopsis for ‘Tomorrowland’:

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.

About the Author

Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan is a independent filmmaker who currently resides in the San Fernando Valley. Since childhood, Taylor Salan had a fascination with movies. Although he was an avid fan of film as a child, it wasn’t until his years as a young adult that his passion for the art of filmmaking truly came to fruition. A current student of the film production program at California State University Northridge, Taylor studies Cinematography but ultimately has plans to direct full time if afforded the opportunity. In his spare time, Taylor produces audio podcasts and blogs about film for He is also a longtime musician, playing drums for over 8 years.



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