“…a middle-aged American husband and father of two learns that he has lost his job. Keeping the news from his nagging wife and wound-up children, he packs up the family and embarks on a full day of park hopping . . . Soon, the manufactured mirth of the fantasy land around him begins to haunt his subconscious. An idyllic family vacation quickly unravels into a surrealist and darkly comic nightmare…” 1
Escape From Tomorrow is a fever dream of Lynchian proportions, a vision of one man’s repressed anguish amidst a sea of artificial revelry. As his chipper facade begins to fray at the edges, so too does the constructed world around him, making for a dark and hallucinatory ride that seeks to subvert the mythology of Disney’s “happiest place on Earth” along the way.
Since premiering at Sundance the film has garnered a lot of buzz around the manner in which it was made—it was shot guerilla-style inside Disney World and Disneyland by a small team without any prior knowledge or approval from the Walt Disney Company itself.
“We were very careful,” said writer-director Randy Moore at a Q&A session at IFC Friday night. “We planned a lot, we scouted extensively. We walked through every shot—the whole film!—with our camera crew about nine times before we ever brought in the cast. We had to make sun charts, because that was our only lighting source. It was a lot of hard work, we were constantly racing from one side of the park to another…”
The film was shot almost exclusively using the Cannon 5D MK II, a small DSLR which enabled the crew to blend in with the general populace.
“Cameras are ubiquitous there, everyone has one. If we didn’t have a camera with us, we would have looked out of place. We pretty much fit in, there were a lot stranger things going on around us while we were shooting than what we were doing…oddly!”
“The only close call we had was towards the end of the shoot, when [park security] thought the camera guys were paparazzi . . . they asked the family if they were celebrities and [the actors] said no, and so security said, ‘Well why do you have paparazzi following you?’ . . . they knew something was weird and pulled them aside.
“The kids said they had to go to the bathroom, and so security said ‘Ok, take your kids but come right back.’ [The actors] went to the bathroom, took off their sound equipment, headed back and as fate would have it a parade was going down the street that separated them from the security guys. A PA quietly walked by and said “go to the exit, there’s a van waiting.’ And so, along with the parade they made their way to the exit and got into the van, and from there we were doing evasive maneuvers through downtown Anaheim in case there was an unmarked Disney car following us!
“Luckily that was the end of the shoot . . . if that had happened at the beginning I think everyone would have been too freaked out to continue.”
To date the Walt Disney Company has declined to comment. The filmmakers are banking on the film falling under “fair use,” but this has not stopped them from putting a “number of hours since release that we haven’t been sued” ticker up on the film website.
Escape From Tomorrow is playing in select theaters.
1 Source: Escape From Tomorrow | Credits