'Escape from Tomorrow' standard fare for Sundance, but not Disneyon January 28, 2013 @ 5:48 am (Updated: 7:49 am - 1/28/13 )
Like a lot of movies that premiere at Sundance, "Escape From Tomorrow" is an edgy and artsy independent film. It's shot in black and white, with small mobile video cameras, on a budget of less than a million bucks. It tells the story of a man's gradual decline into insanity. All pretty standard Sundance fare.
But what really sets this film apart is where it was shot. On the grounds of Disneyland and Disney world. Surreptitiously. That's right, the entire movie was secretly shot over a 10 day stay at Disney World (in Florida) and then a two-week stint at Disneyland (in California.)
The first-time filmmaker, Randy Moore, bought season passes to the theme parks, scouted locations during 8 or 9 walk-throughs, and always rehearsed the cast off-site.
Moore tells Filmmaker Magazine the actual shooting was a nightmare. They were constantly under the threat of being found out by Disney security guards.
For starters, Moore made the entire camera crew shave off their beards and don typical "tourist" clothes so they would better blend in with the crowds. And they usually only risked three or four takes before moving on. The one exception was the "It's a Small World" ride which his cast and crew ended up taking at least a dozen times to get it right. (Talk about combat pay.)
Filmed on the fair grounds and in the theme parks' resort hotels, the movie boasts scenes from inside eight different attractions. There's an extended sequence inside the Buzz Lightyear ride and the climax of the film occurs reportedly underneath Epcot's Spaceship Earth sphere.
The fact that the film is said to be a dark fantasy that involves Tasering, brainwashing, and the bloody death of the protagonist can only further anger an already unhappy Disney corporation. Whether it's an actual critique of Disney itself is open to interpretation. The New York Times calls it harsh, but The New Yorker said it is less of a critique of Disney than of the unattainable notion of the perfect family.
So far, Disney has made no official comment about on the film. It's known to be an aggressive protector of its brand though and is expected to do what it can to stop the film from getting released.
That may explain the run on tickets for it at Sundance.
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